How to Shut Off Your Home’s Main Water Supply

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You may have heard of this small piece of equipment, but are unsure of how it works and if you even need one.  What you do know is that you want and need to have clean, uncontaminated water in your home. Let’s take a quick look together at how a backflow works and why it is so important to the health and safety of you and your family.

 

What is a Backflow Valve?

A backflow valve is a double-flow tube with either a screw or flip stopper on one end. It will look similar to the above picture. The stopper is built to stop the unclean water from reaching your faucet.  Without this small plumbing device, and maybe the addition of some filters, contaminated water would spread throughout your home.

A backflow valve is most useful when a pipe bursts, freezes, or a high pressure solid or gas tries to move through the plumbing system.  These kinds of incidents cause the normal water pressure to be altered, which will allow for the contaminated water to move through your pipes.

Normally, because the pressure is optimized for your home plumbing system, the sewage or other waste and contaminants will move down through the earth, while the cleaner waters will go up into the home. However, when one of the before mentioned disasters occur, the two types of water are usually reversed.

Where Is It?

If you’re in an emergency situation like an earthquake or a flood and you need to turn off your backflow valve, you can locate it in a few different places depending on state regulations.

Most homes will have their backflow valve on the outside of the house near their sprinkler system or water meter. As long as it is the spot where the city water comes into your home, the valve will be close to it. Depending on the climate, some backflow valves are on the inside of the house in the basement near the water heater.

In the event that you need to shut off the backflow valve you simple need to locate it, and turn it until the water stops flowing (you should be able to hear it stop). For a visual guide, check out Wiki How’s article on how to shut off the main water supply to a home.

Contamination Rules & Regulations

Did you know that each state and city has its own regulations about their water supply? Sometimes regulations require a small air gap between the delivery point of water and local storage or use in the home. This helps to control backflow due to high pressures. Other regulations control the quality of water and methods to avoid contamination.

Nearly every city and state has regulations for their individual water systems and annual testing and cleaning of systems, procedures and the water itself.  To find general rules about contamination, you can check out the EPA’s drinking water requirements. This is all done so that we can stay safe and healthy, at least as far as water is concerned.

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