Believe or not but many home owners do not know where their main water shut off is located and others simply don’t even know what a Main is. After the water passes through the three city-installed valves, it comes to what is known as the main shutoff valve in your home. This is the valve that you need to be able to locate in an emergency. This valve is usually in the basement or on an outside wall in a utility area of the house. The main shutoff valve allows a full flow of water through the pipe when it’s open. Turning off this valve (by turning it clockwise) cuts off the water supply to the entire house.
The main shutoff valve in your house probably has one of two designs:
Gate valve: Gate valves are very reliable and last for years, but they become difficult to turn after not being turned for years. If you haven’t closed the main shutoff valve since you moved into your house, do it now. Better to find out that you can’t turn it with your bare hands now than to wait until you’re standing in 6 inches of water.
Ball valve: Houses with plastic or copper main water pipes leading into the house may have a full-flow ball valve. This valve is open when the handle is aligned with the pipe. To close it, turn the handle clockwise 1/4 turn so that it’s at a right angle to the pipe.
The main valve is the one to stop most plumbing catastrophes, such as a burst pipe. Make sure that everyone in the household knows where this valve is located and knows how to turn it off. Turning the handle clockwise closes the valve. You need to turn the handle several turns to fully close a gate valve.
After you’ve closed and opened the valve, it may start to leak a bit around the valve stem. The stem of the valve is held in place with a packing nut. Tighten this nut just enough to stop the leak. Don’t overtighten it or the valve is difficult to turn again. (If you need a cheat sheet to remember which way to turn the control, use a label or tag with the simple reminder: “Right off” with an arrow pointing right, for example.)
Any time you shut off the water and allow the pipes to drain, unscrew the aerators (small screens) on the ends of all faucets before you turn the water back on. Doing so keeps the small particles of scale that may shake loose from inside the pipes from clogging the small holes in these units.
If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your battery-operated radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials. Remember, personal safety should always come first! Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers.
Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s or relative’s home outside the threatened area. Know at least two exit routes from your neighborhood in case of emergency evacuation. Wear protective clothing; sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face. Take your emergency supplies kit. Tell someone when you are leaving and where you are going. Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.
If you’re sure you have time, take steps to protect your home. Close windows, vents, doors, Venetian blinds or non-combustible window coverings and heavy drapes. Lock your door and always remember if you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Assembling Emergency Supplies
When wildfire threatens, you won’t have time to shop or search for supplies. Assemble a disaster supply kit with items you may need if advised to evacuate. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags or trash containers.
Include in the kit:
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day).
- Food that won’t spoil
- One change of clothing and footwear per person
- A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications.
- Emergency tools, including battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of batteries
- An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler’s checks
- Sanitation supplies
- Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
- An extra pair of eyeglasses
- Important family documents stored in a waterproof container
When a water loss occurs in a building, it is imperative to act quickly. Many remediation contractors claim to have 24 Hour Emergency Service, but fail to answer calls after hours, on weekends, holidays, or even at all. The importance of quick response time will not only remove the standing water from the home, but it also limits the amount of content damage, water wicking, potential mold growth, etc. Mold can germinate within 24 to 48 hours, so having a home or building with standing water and wet building materials will be a feeding ground for rapid growth. The relative humidity will be extremely elevated in these situations, and it will not take long for mold to begin growing and hence, become a more costly remediation project. The right remediation contractor will respond immediately, pump out all existing water, remove all damaged building materials which can be dried, clean the effected areas and place the necessary equipment to structurally dry out the facility. They will clean and dry out all contents and/or document all losses while monitoring the equipment left behind for several days until the building is completely dry and structurally sound. This immediate response process will limit the amount of damage and bring the home back to pre-loss conditions much quicker than a remediation contractor who waits and allows the water to dwell long enough to cause significant and unnecessary damage to both the building and the contents within. So it is important if you ever suffer a loss in your home or commercial property to act quickly and find the right water restoration contractor who will promptly restore your loss in a timely fashion while following all of the necessary guidelines to insure the building is structurally dry and free from any potential microbial growth.
After a pressure relieve valve gave out, the home owner had to deal with an exorbitant amount of water in his laundry and living rooms. We arrived on scene and worked through the night to structurally dry this home, and here’s some of the photos.
Every winter season, the pipes in your home are at risk of damage from freezing conditions. Low temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze, and in some cases burst. The following tips can help you safeguard your home before, during and after a pipe freezes.
Preventing Pipes From Freezing
- Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.
- Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you’re leaving the house for an extended period of time.
- Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
- Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.)
- Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
- Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
- Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
- Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
- If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.
Monitoring Pipe Conditions
- Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing.
- The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
- Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.
- Check pipes around your water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces.
- These tend to be vulnerable to freezing conditions.
- Identify cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps that are near pipes.
If A Pipe Freezes
- If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)
- To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
- When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out.
If A Pipe Bursts
- Shut off water at the main valve.
- If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
- Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.
This section highlights examples of safety precautions you can consider to help prepare yourself, others and your personal property for winter freeze. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what’s appropriate.
For more information, visit our website at Biowashing.com
So many companies claim to have 24 hour emergency service, but do they really? Many instances customer will tell us that they had some sort of an issue, called a few contractors and either no one called them back, or they tried to offer their service the next business day. I can not emphasize enough that when a water loss occurs in a home, removing the water and drying the structure as soon as possible is imperative. It not only reduces the chance of microbial growth, but it also can potentially save items and materials which were involved in the loss. Pictured here was a basement where a hot water tank burst and did significant damage. The home owner called several companies who didn’t respond, and then he called us. We were there within an hour and were able to save personal items that were wet and the carpeting. In conclusion, many companies will claim 24 Hour Emergency Service because it attracts potential clients, but insuring your contractor does offer the service when needed can save you thousands of dollars when a loss occurs.