Quick, turn off the water, the toilet is leaking and flooding the basement! The spring storm has tripped a breaker, go turn it back on at the panel! Power is out and the garage door opener won’t work, we will have to use it manually!
The list of situations can go on and on! In case of an emergency in your home, do you know how and what to do? Everyone in the home should have a good idea of where and how to work some typical items in the home for safety and to prevent further damage to the home and structure.
You should have a list of where emergency shut offs are located, information sources, and basic tools needed to shut off items in the home. Locating and tagging them would be a helpful practice for all new home owners, after tagging them, take a tour with all family members explaining what these items do and how to operate them properly.
The main electrical Disconnect: This is usually located at main breaker panel in the home. Usually one switch will turn the power off to the entire home. In some older homes it can take up to 6 switches to turn off the power for the entire home. It is a good idea to see what style your home has before you have to turn this off and/or on when needed. Also make sure the breakers are labeled properly so you know what controls what in your home.
The water main valve: This valve will turn off the water completely in the home. The valve is usually located in the basement/crawlspace of the home near the water meter. If your house has its own well system, then the shut off valve will be near the pressure tank. To disable the well system you will need to turn off the valve and the electrical switch for the well pump.
The hot water shut-off and plumbing shut-offs: The hot water shut off is located on the cold water inlet at the top of the water heater. This will stop water from entering the water heater by closing the cold supply. Toilets will have shut offs on the supply line feeding the tank typically along the wall or floor behind the toilet. Newer homes will have shut offs for the water supplies to sinks under the cabinet, one for each, the hot and cold supply. If you have an older home you will have to turn off water for the entire home at the water main valve for any sink issues.
The Natural Gas Main: This will be located near the gas meter, either outside or inside your home, depending on the age. This valve will require a wrench to operate and takes only a quarter turn to turn it off or on. Remember, when the valve handle is parallel with the pipe, the valve is open.
Local gas Valves: These should be located at each gas appliance for safety and like the main gas valve, will take a quarter turn to close.
This is a basic list and we will provide more in our next blog. For more information feel free to contact Midlands Home Inspections, Inc, or your local utilities. It is important to know how to react to an emergency and to know how to turn off items in the home when needed.
Information provided by Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-it Inc. “How to Operate Your Home”