If and when your home has a water emergency, knowing where to go to shut off the water supply to your home can minimize water damage. Each room in your home with water supplies should have emergency stops to cease water at the source during a water emergency. There are a variety of valves found at various points along the water pipes in your home’s plumbing system that will allow you to turn off the water during emergencies or when you need to complete repairs or upgrades. Turning off the water supply is often the first step of many plumbing projects. Therefore, it is important to know which valves are in your home to turn off.
Water shut off valves for your home range from the main shut off, near the meter where your water supply enters your home to individual shut offs at each plumbing fixture such as the kitchen sink or bathroom toilet. Valves to shut off your water supply come in various forms. Some of the valves are larger in size and others smaller in size. Though there are various types of shut off valves, they all function primarily the same by stopping the flow of water. There are three main types of valves that you will find in your home; ball valves, gate valves, and globe valves.
Ball valves are a valve that will only take a quarter turn to cease the flow of water. Ball valves are known for their longevity and their ability to work perfectly each use. On the inside of the ball valve, a sphere usually made of brass, chrome-plated brass, or stainless steel has been drilled through from one end to the other. At the top of the sphere is a lever whose range of movement is just a quarter turn to control the water supply. When the lever is parallel to the pipe, and the opening in the sphere aligns allowing the water to flow. When moved perpendicular to the pipe, the solid section of the sphere blocks the flow. You can control the flow by moving the lever between 0° and 90°. The Quarter-turn valves main advantage is that they can be shut off quickly. The disadvantage is that they are more likely to create water hammering. For that reason, it’s best to turn the lever on a ball valve slowly.
Gate valves are valves that are operated with a wheel and a mechanism acting as a gate, moves up and down as the wheel is turned to turn on or shut off the water supply. When the gate is lowered to is lowest position, the water flow will stop, when at its highest point, water will flow as normal. Gate valves may have a rising stem; this will allow you to know when the water supply is flowing or ceased. Gate valves do need to be maintained as they are susceptible to corrosion that can prevent it from functioning properly. Additionally, gate valves should only be used in the completely on or completely off position. If the valve is left partially open, the gate will vibrate and may become damaged.
Globe valves are much different than ball and gate valves. Where ball valves and gate valves should be fully turned off or on for best functionality, the globe valve is designed for limitation of the water supply. They are operated with a wheel and a stem similar to the gate valves, but the stem is attached to a stopper that seals shut a baffle. This is essentially two half-walls that force the water to flow in an Z shaped pattern. The globe valves close slowly and shouldn’t produce water hammering sounds. The globe valve baffle makes free flowing water impossible, even when fully open, this helps with reduction of water pressure.
Knowing how these three valves function can make all of the difference when they are needed in your home. All fixtures that have water coming to them can be equipped with a shut off valve so that in an emergency, water can be shut off to a particular fixture rather than the entire home. If you have questions regarding shut off valves or would like to have water shut off valves installed/replaced in your home, give your SWEET plumbers at American Rooter Plumbing a call today.