The Importance of Maintaining Your Water Shutoff Valve
Most people don’t think about the water shutoff valve in their homes until water sprays all over the place and the valve won’t budge. Understanding the importance of maintaining your water shutoff valve may mean the difference between a little leak and a flooded house.
Types of Valves in Your Water Pipes and Fixtures
There are important differences between a valve that shuts your water supply off entirely, and one that just regulates the flow of it through a faucet or spigot. A shutoff valve is usually a gate valve or a ball valve.
A gate valve has a wheel type of handle. The valve lowers a gate into the pipe and seats it to seal off the flow, making your gate valve akin to a portcullis that keeps out an invading horde.
A ball valve has a ball inside it with a hole through it. When it’s open, the hole faces the direction of the flow. When it’s shut, the solid side of the ball cuts off the flow in the pipe. Ball valves usually have a handle that turns 90 degrees. When the handle is parallel to the pipe, the water is on, and when you turn it, making it perpendicular to the pipe, the valve closes.
A flow control valve, otherwise known as a globe valve, also has a wheel valve that looks like an old-fashioned faucet knob. When you turn the knob, it lowers a component (that isn’t usually shaped like a globe anymore) to restrict the flow of fluid. It controls the pressure of the fluid flowing through the pipe.
Globe valves can shut off the flow entirely, but they really shine for regulating the flow. They’re the difference between the gentle trickle you’d use to rinse an antique glass and the powerful blast of a shower.
Why Shut Off the Water?
Preventing water damage during emergencies, enabling planned plumbing repairs or renovations, or keeping your home safe from leaks when you’re away are all reasons to shut off the water. Michiganders are no strangers to cold weather, so they know to shut off the water to exterior spigots and remove hoses as a preventative measure against frozen pipes.
Maintaining Your Water Shutoff Valve
Regular maintenance ensures your water shutoff valve works when you need it. A well-maintained valve can also prevent leaks, which waste water and lead to higher utility bills. Plus, regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of the valve, saving you from costly replacements.
Regular inspections are an excellent place to start. Check the valve for any signs of wear and tear, rust, or leaks. Lubricating the valve can also help keep it in good working condition. Use a waterproof, non-melting silicone lubricant for best results. Ensure that the valve turns off and on smoothly without any resistance. If, despite your efforts, the valve won’t budge or close, it might be time to replace it.
It’s important to check your water shutoff valve regularly for efficient water management, preventing leaks, and extending the lifespan of your valve.