Your home’s main water valve is one of the most important elements of your plumbing system. The main water valve helps to regulate water pressure and flow, and it also routes water correctly from the main water line. It should be noted that the main water line that connects your home’s plumbing system to your water company also uses a valve.
Most plumbing fixtures in your home will also have their own individual water valves. These are referred to as shut-off valves. For this discussion, however, we’re talking about the main shut-off valve that controls the water flow in your home. This particular valve is often located inside of a garage or along the side or back of your home, but it could also be located inside of a basement or crawl space.
Causes of a Broken Main Water Valve
A main water valve can break or become inoperable for a number of reasons. One of the most common causes of a broken main water valve is physical damage. If the handle on your valve gets hit hard, it is possible that the valve can become loose. This can lead to a broken valve due to an imbalance in water pressure. Damage due to physical force is more common with plastic valve components and handles compared to metal components.
You may also experience a broken water valve if the equipment has become corroded. This type of damage can occur naturally over the course of many years, but humidity and exposure to certain chemicals can speed along the process. As stated above, some main water valves and handles are made from plastic, but others are constructed using steel, cast iron, or brass. The threat of corrosion depends on the type of material used to form the valve.
Signs of a Broken Main Water Valve
When a main water valve stops functioning properly, there can be a number of signs and symptoms. While a water valve that has stopped functioning completely may result in water flowing from the handle, damage that is less severe may only result in a small leak. A disruption in water from a broken main water valve can also result in no water coming from your faucets or weak water flow. Over time, you may notice that your water bill has gone up or that your metering shows an increase in water usage despite no changes in your behavior. You may also hear the sound of running water despite no fixtures being used at the moment.
The Dangers of a Broken Main Water Valve
One of the biggest dangers of a broken main water valve is the threat of flooding and water damage. Even small leaks can cause water damage and wood rot over time, and a major leak can lead to flooding in your home fairly quickly. A water leak also raises the risk of corrosion in some cases. This can make a damaged water valve even more unstable.
If a lot of water ends up leaking from your main water valve, it’s also possible that mold growth can occur in affected areas. Even if you’re able to stop the flow and dry excess water, moisture may have penetrated into surfaces where it may soon grow mold. This can be potentially hazardous to your health and the health of loved ones in your home.
Steps to Take If Your Main Water Valve Breaks
Dealing with a broken main water valve in your home can feel overwhelming, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to make the situation a little easier. Below are five steps to take if you have a broken main water valve in your home.
1. Call a Plumbing Professional
If you believe that your main water valve is broken, it’s important to call a professional plumber right away. A broken water valve may get worse over time as pressure continues to push on weak points. This will only raise the potential for flooding and property damage.
A professional plumbing company can dispatch an expert to evaluate and repair your plumbing valve to mitigate the damage. Many plumbing companies, including our team at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, offer emergency plumbing repair services. This means that even in the middle of the night or on a holiday or weekend, you can call a plumbing professional.
2. Turn Off the Curbside Valve
While you’re waiting for a plumber to arrive at your home, look for the main line water valve that connects to your water company’s water line. This valve is often located near the edge of your property, and it may be along a curb or contained within a grate or box buried in your yard. In some cases, turning this valve requires a special tool that is used by utility workers. If you don’t have access to such a tool, you may be able to close the valve using pliers or vice grips.
3. Call Your Water Company
You should also call your water company’s 24-hour emergency line to report the problem if water is gushing out of the main water valve inside your home. Your water company should be able to dispatch someone to turn off the main water connection. Even if you haven’t experienced a massive amount of water flowing from your home’s main valve, you should still consider calling your water company after having a professional plumber make repairs. Some water companies will provide a discount on water usage if you can provide a receipt showing that a plumbing repair was made.
4. Dry up What You Can
If you are only experiencing a small leak from your home’s main water valve, consider grabbing some towels to soak up the water until your plumber arrives. You should be careful when drying around the valve as bumping or disturbing it could cause a broken water valve to become more damaged and lead to more water coming out. It’s also important to watch your step if water has leaked onto the ground. Standing water can lead to slips, falls, and injuries, so exercise caution when walking around a broken water valve.
5. Stay Safe
Don't attempt to repair your plumbing system yourself as doing so could be dangerous. Due to the intensity of water pressure in your home’s main water valve, you run the risk of getting hurt if the pressure causes a piece of metal or plastic to come loose on the valve. Unless you are drying water in a safe manner, try to keep your distance from the valve until your plumber has had a chance to assess the situation.
Call a Plumbing Expert Today
TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is standing by to help homeowners with plumbing emergencies. We specialize in repairing and replacing broken water valves in Plainfield, Illinois and the surrounding areas. We also deliver superior heating and cooling services as well as an additional array of plumbing services, such as gas line repair, drain cleaning, and repiping.
Call TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today for plumbing solutions.