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Emergency Water Shutoffs

Well maintained main shut off valves and emergency shutoffs pay for themselves in peace of mind and the water damage they help avoid. Here is what they look like:

Each house has a main shut off valve. This valve is normally located outside the house where the water enters the building. The valve turns off all the water to all of the fixtures. Operating this valve is highly recommended when you leave your home for days. That’s because if a plumbing fixture fails while you’re away (it does happen), flooding will not occur.


  • Gate Valve (upper left)  This main shut off valve has a round handle. The gate valve pre-dates the ball valve and often needs replacement. Operating this valve will require many rotations to the right. The gate valve is an old design and out of favor with professional plumbers.
  • Ball Valve (upper middle)  This valve operates with a lever handle which stops all flow with a quarter-turn. This type of valve creates a positive seal with a stainless steel ball and is the easiest to operate. The ball valve is the best choice to replace the gate-valve.
  • Double Check Backflow Assembly (upper right)  Double check backflow preventers are installed outside homes all over Sarasota County. They are usually located near the water meter at the property line. Each backflow includes 2 shut off valves that will stop all flow of water. They are also quarter-turn ball valves that are durable and easy to use.

Below are a few photos of emergency shutoffs. Knowing their location in your home is important.


Emergency shutoffs isolate individual fixtures and are under each kitchen sink, each toilet and each lavatory. Turn the handle all the way to the right to shut off the water and control runaway leakage. Alert home owners save themselves a bundle when they operate these shutoffs quickly to avoid water damage. Emergency shutoffs should be closed and reopened from time to time to ensure a positive seal. Neglect this simple chore at your peril as you may find the valve too stiff and corroded to operate – just when you need it most!

Do not go on vacation or even a short weekend trip without first turning off your main water supply.

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