5 Ways to Maintain Your Shut Off Valves

by | Jan 10, 2023 | Plumbing

About 14,000 people in the country are affected by water damage daily. That’s equivalent to a claim for water or freezing damage by one in 60 insured homes yearly. These numbers prove that knowing where and how to use the shut off valve is crucial for home maintenance. A water shut off valve is what allows you to stop the water flow through your pipes. The main shut off valve controls the flow of water in and out of your home, but you may have additional shut off valves for different fixtures.

This plumbing feature is crucial when repairing or replacing a pipe, fixture, appliance, or other water-related items. How do you find a water shut off valve? If it’s connected to a municipal water supply, it may be on the perimeter of your house, on the side that faces the street. You may also check your property inspection report or call the water company for help. A shut off valve may be a ball valve with a straight handle or a gate valve with a round handle.

Before water gets to faucets or fixtures, it passes through a shutoff valve. To shut off the main water valve, turn the handle to shut off the water flow. If it’s a ball valve, move the handle parallel to a perpendicular position. If it’s a gate valve, turn the round handle clockwise until it stops.

A shut off valve is one of the many parts of your home that you may only think about once it fails. However, proper maintenance can ensure it is working when you need it. Here are five ways to maintain yours at home:

1. Regularly Inspect and Test Shut Off Valves

When you inspect and test shut off valves regularly, you can ensure they function properly. Do visual inspections for signs of damage or wear. After checking the valve visually, test it by turning it off or on to ensure it still works.

Inspect all shut off valves in your home. Besides the main shut off valve, including the ones in the other parts of your home, such as in the following:

Signs of damage or wear on shut off valves include rust or corrosion of the valve body. It can also be sticking or broken handles and gushing water when it is closed. Rusting can occur over time and cause corrosion of the valve body. It’s also a sign of an old or defective valve that needs immediate replacement.

Operational tests help you ensure that your valve can fully open and close. You can turn the valve handle to sense a full range of motion. If it doesn’t move or is stuck in place, it’s time for a replacement. The same applies when it fails to shut off the water flow in your house completely.

2. Clean and Lubricate Shut Off Valves As Needed

Over time, dirt, debris, and corrosion can build up on valve components. These build-ups can cause valves to malfunction, so regular cleaning and lubrication can help to prevent these issues.

When cleaning your shut off valves, you may use a small brush and soapy water to remove any build-up. Wiping off the valve and its handles with a towel dries it before applying lubricant.

Lubricating the valve component after cleaning helps reduce friction and build-up. You may manually lubricate your valves by opening them and applying a lubricant to the stem. Investing in automatic lubricants is also ideal. Other ways to lubricate your valves are with the following:

  • Grease fittings
  • Graphite powder
  • Silicone-based spray
  • Silicone grease
  • Natural options, such as coconut, veggie, or olive oil

Never use petroleum-based products on your rubber seals, and watch out during chlorination. It’s always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning or lubricating shut off valves. Also, make sure to wipe off excess lubricants to avoid clogging.

3. Replace Damaged or Worn Parts As Needed

If a shut off valve is not functioning properly, it may be necessary to replace components such as seals or gaskets. A simple replacement can help you fix a leaking valve and get it back in working condition. Some valves may require total replacement if they are too old or damaged.

A seal or gasket might also be worn out due to age or excessive use. Rusting can occur inside the valve body and degrade components such as rubber seals, leading to leaks. The best way to replace these parts is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use compatible features.

Some homeowners replace damaged or worn shut off valve parts themselves. It’s doable, but it’s always best to consult a plumber for advice if you are unsure. Improper replacement could lead to more damage and require full valve replacement.

4. Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommended Maintenance Schedule

Shut off valves experience significant wear and tear over time. Each type of valve has specific maintenance requirements. The manufacturer knows the valve better than anyone else, and they know the best way to keep it in good condition. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule can help you with the following:

Longevity

Maintaining your shut off valves according to the manufacturer’s instructions allows you to extend the valve’s life. Manufacturers provide maintenance schedules for a reason, and following them can help you get the most out of your valves.

Security and Safety

A well-maintained shut off valve helps you protect your home and family from potential risks. It also ensures that your water lines remain free from leaks, blockages, and other problems.

Reduced Need for Shutdowns

Proper maintenance of your shut off valves can help you avoid the need for frequent replacements or shutdowns. Shutdowns often disrupt water service and require significant repairs, so avoiding them whenever possible is a good idea.

Cost Savings

Determining valve problems before they become major is key to preventing costly repairs. It’s always more cost-effective to maintain shut off valves than replace them.

You can check the manufacturer’s website for detailed instructions on maintaining your shut off valve. This information can help you understand how to keep it in good condition and avoid unnecessary repairs or replacements.

5. Follow Proper Safety Procedures When Working on Shut Off Valves

It’s possible to work on shut off valves without the help of plumbers. However, if you ever need an emergency water valve shutdown, make sure you understand the proper safety procedures and precautions. Taking the necessary safety precautions when working on shut off valves can help you avoid the following:

Accidents

Shut off valves are under pressure, so it’s essential to take the necessary precautions when shutting them off. Never force the valve open or closed. Instead, slowly adjust the handle until you hear a click. Avoid sudden pressure changes and potential accidents.

Damages

Shutting down the right valves can help you avoid any potential damage. Make sure to turn off the shut off valve completely before attempting any repairs. A partially-closed valve can cause backflow, which can lead to property damage.

Emergency water valve shutdowns could occur for various reasons, such as a water main break or a plumbing emergency. Before working on the valves, always shut off the power and water supplies. This step helps you avoid potential flooding or other water-related accidents.

Moreover, shut off valves can leak if mishandled or not correctly installed. Wear protective gear such as gloves and eyewear when working on shut off valves. This helps you stay safe in case of any accidental splashing.

It’s also vital to ensure the area is well-ventilated if you use any hazardous materials, such as lubricants and cleaners. These materials can be toxic and cause serious health problems if not handled properly.

Ultimately, it’s always best to consult a licensed plumber for shut off valve repairs. A professional can determine if the valve needs replacement or if a simple repair can do the trick. This also helps you avoid expensive repairs down the line.

Keep Your Shut Off Valves Jolly

Maintaining shutoff valves is doable and can save you a lot of stress and money in the long run. Regular inspections, cleaning, lubrication, and component replacements can help keep your shut off valves working smoothly for years to come. Ultimately, following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule will help you ensure that your shut off valves are in top condition.

Jolly Plumbing, Drains, Heating, and Air has been serving the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area for over 40 years. Our plumbing repair and installation services guarantee that your plumbing system functions properly. We also don’t let a leak go unrepaired with our leak repair services. Our team of experts understands that everything must be done correctly the first time.

If you have any problems with your water shut off valves, give us a call at (859) 287-4584 or (513) 644-5212 today!

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