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Shutoff Valves

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Shutoff Valves in Frisco Texas

Shutoff valves come in a variety of types, sizes and configurations. Sometimes they’re called by different names, but they all serve the same function in the plumbing world: they stop liquids and gases.

Many people in Texas realized just how important shutoff valves were in February 2021 when multiple days of subzero temps magnified by power outages caused water lines to rupture and flood houses. Too often, homeowners didn’t know how to turn the water off to their house. Even if the homeowner did know how to use the shutoff, they found that the valves were old, partially functioning, or worse, not functioning at all. Some were so old they even broke off in people’s hands as they turned them for the first time ever. A lot of homeowners find problems with their shutoff valves after it’s too late.

Truth is, we talk to hundreds of people every week, and the vast majority don’t know how to turn the water or gas off in case of an emergency. This overview will provide you a little bit of insight into the various shutoff valves that we have in the Frisco, McKinney, Plano, Allen, Little Elm, Prosper and surrounding areas along with their locations and importance.

If you need help locating, using or replacing your shutoff valves, call on Earl’s Plumbing!

Purpose and Importance of the Shutoff Valve

From a residential or business standpoint, shutoff valves allow you to control the flow of water and natural gas (or propane) to the various supply lines that feed the appliances, fixtures, or faucets in your location.

Shutoff valves are important in case of an emergency gas or water leak. They’re also important for basic maintenance and diagnostic reasons. Plumbers need to use these valves for a number of diagnostic tests, including slab leaks and other water leaks. This helps us save on time, cost and ultimately will ensure a more accurate diagnosis.

A functioning shutoff for gas is a no-brainer as well. Most people don’t realize that the gas companies (Atmos or CoServ) don’t do repairs to your home. They’ll come out and test for a leak at the meter, and then turn the gas off and tell you to call a licensed plumber. When the gas companies come out, they test for a leak at the meter and then lock the meter. Once this happens, many additional steps have to be taken by professional plumbers, including receiving permits, fees, tests and inspections, which can take multiple days. If you have a functioning gas shutoff valve and know where it is and how to turn it off, then you save yourself hundreds of dollars.

Types & Styles of Shutoff Valves

Below are the most common types of shutoff valves found in the Frisco, McKinney area. They have the same function but operate in different ways. They are:

gate valve

Gate Valves

Gate valves are only used for water or liquids. These types of valves are fairly basic and a little old school. They’re still used today just not as often because there are better options available. A gate valve is what you see on your water hose spigot, and it functions in the same way.  The handle looks like a wheel, or it might be football-shaped.  They operate by turning multiple revolutions to open or close.  There is typically a rubber gasket mounted onto a screw-type mechanism that pinches down over the opening, creating a seal and restricting the flow of water to shut it off.

The problem with these valves is that the rubber gasket deteriorates over time, rendering this valve almost useless. The stems can become corroded over time leading to leaks. In the long term, these valves start to partially function — especially when they’re exposed to the elements and/or are installed underground.

shutoff valves

Ball Valves

Ball valves come in many different appearances, sizes, and types, but they’re all engineered to function the same way. This type of valve has been around for years, but they’re more costly, and therefore, not used in new construction plumbing processes unless required. Other than the common water hose spigots (Arrowhead brand), Earl’s Plumbing avoids using any other types of shutoff valves. The extra cost for a ball valve is worth the peace of mind and longevity.

Ball valves are used for both natural and propane gas, as well as water and air applications. The simple, yet superior engineering allows you to turn the lever just a quarter turn to completely turn the water off or on. In addition, at the end of this simple quarter turn, there is an obvious hard stopping point that eliminates any guessing as to whether the valve is on or off. The ball valve’s simple mechanical function and minimal wear allow them to last considerably longer than other types of shutoff valves.

Ball valves are the current gold standard, and Earl’s Plumbing only supplies and uses ALL metal ball valves and angle stops.

Push/Pull Valves

This product is fairly new to the plumbing market. These are white plastic and the most common has a plunger-type mechanism that you push to close and pull to open. So far, these are primarily only used for toilets, faucets, ice makers and washer boxes.

Currently, they’re only is used in new construction when the plumber just needs a functioning shutoff valve that will last past the 1 year warranty period. They’re very cheap in comparison, coming in at over $7 less EACH versus an all-metal angle stop-type ball valve. This is a significant savings to the new construction plumber where the margins are razor-thin.

These are typically a “push to connect” type shutoff valve, similar to a SharkBite fitting. This means they’re pretty simple and should only be used temporarily, or not at all. In summary, these types of shutoffs are absolute garbage for a variety of reasons and should be outlawed by the plumbing code. At this time, they’re not, so if you have this type of shutoff in your home, you might want to consider this as a future plumbing project.

Angle Stops

“Angle stops” are a trade name given to the shutoff valves that are primarily used for toilets and faucets.  Angle stops are a smaller version of any of the previously noted valves above. They can be the “multi-turn” gate valve type, the “plunger-style” push/pull type, or the “quarter-turn” ball valve type.

At Earl’s Plumbing, we only use metal, quarter turn, ball valve angle stops. Although they’re a little more costly than the other types of angle stops, the quarter-turn ball valve engineering is far superior, simpler to operate and the all-metal versions are stronger and stay fully functioning for much longer periods of time.  This is well worth the extra $3 to $5 each.

Emergency Valves  

Emergency water shutoffs are valves that are automatically actuated to shut off in the case of an emergency. These things are awesome when it comes to safety and preventative loss mitigation purposes.

There are multiple forms and brands of emergency valves out there.  Some are fairly basic and are triggered by moisture. Some are app-based “Smart Home” versions that are Wi-Fi integrated and connected.

Earl’s Plumbing strongly encourages some sort of emergency water shutoff valve for water heater installations that are in the attic. Although water heaters are no longer allowed to be installed in the attics, there are easily over a half-million homes that we service that have this setup. From about 2003 to 2014, “attic installation” was the most common water heater installation in the Frisco, McKinney, Plano and surrounding areas.

We supply and suggest a product called “Flood Stop.” It’s a point of use, moisture-activated, super sensitive automatic shutoff valve that terminates the water flow immediately upon sensing any moisture while also producing an audible alarm. These are great, long-lasting, and highly suggested if your water heater (tank or tankless) is above a living area. Flood Stop makes other products for washers, dishwashers and other leak-prone areas.

We have also installed “whole home” flow monitoring shutoff valve systems. The Moen Flo is a product that is well thought of. If you’re a frequent out-of-town traveler or a dual-income family away from the house most of the day, this might be a consideration for you. One of our customers who travels extensively had significant leak damage in the February 2021 freeze AND the January 2022 hard freeze. We installed this for his home as a way for him to monitor for future issues.

Shutoff Valve Locations

Texas Plumbing Code states that every appliance or device that operates on flammable gas must have an accessible shutoff valve. Other appliances or fixtures that will have accessible shutoff valves include sinks and toilets. Your ice maker box and washer box will have them too.

Oddly enough, the vast majority of showers and tub faucets are not required and do not have shutoff valves.

About two-three times per week, we get a call from a homeowner saying their Moen shower cartridge won’t shut off. During business hours, we can come out to fix it, but that may take time, so you’ll want to shut off the water on your own.

The shutoff valves mentioned so far all have a certain level of importance. In a perfect world, they should all be functioning and accessible, and you should know how they operate. But THE MOST IMPORTANT SHUTOFF VALVES IN YOUR HOME (or business) THAT MUST BE FUNCTIONING AND READILY ACCESSIBLE ARE…

  1. Main Water Shutoff – if properly functioning, it can easily be operated by hand but is NOT always accessible
  2. Gas Meter Main Shutoff – by design, easily accessible but you will need a large wrench or pliers
  3. Hot Water Heater Shutoff(s) – easily accessible and can usually be operated by hand

How to Find and Turn Off Main Water Shutoff Valve

Every single home has a “Main Water Shutoff Valve” in place. This should be working and easily accessible. It is specifically designed for the homeowner to access in case of an emergency. Most homeowners do not know the location of this device or that it even exists. This is a problem because it’s most likely been ignored and neglected and will most likely NOT be functioning or even usable.

If your home was built before 2012, the likelihood of this device being accessible and in good working order is very remote. It’s also most likely a gate valve. If it is a gate valve, we strongly suggest calling a plumber for an inspection before you accidentally create a larger issue.

Depending upon your city and the age of the home, your main shutoff valve should be located in one of the following places:

  • Main water manifold closet – started in about 2020 but is not a very common due to cost
  • Garage or utility room access panel – started in about 2017 and continues to be the most common access area
  • Front flower bed – started in about 1999 near the sewer cleanouts and shares a box with the PRV
  • In the yard OR front flower bed – this applies to most other homes that don’t fall into the categories above.

The valve should be located somewhere between the meter and the home and is usually in a small valve box close to the home or business. If you don’t already know where it is and/or that it exists, then it’s going to be pretty difficult to find without special locating equipment.

The water meter is NOT where you turn the water off to your home. The water meter shutoff valve is for the city utility providers and licensed professionals. That’s why it’s locked and requires a special key and meter wrench to operate.

How to Find and Turn Off Gas Meter Main Shutoff

Again, this one is important and could save you a lot of time and money. If you smell gas or think that you might have a gas leak, you can do a couple of things:

  1. Turn off the gas at the meter and then call a local licensed plumber – Call Earl’s Plumbing!
  2. Call a local licensed plumber – Call Earl’s Plumbing!
  3. Call the Utility provider – CoServ or Atmos

The first option mentioned is always going to be the best option, but depending upon your level of concern, you have to make the best call at the time. Some people even call the Fire Department, and the only thing they’re going to do is turn off your gas meter and lock it.

The Gas Utility Providers only work on the main lines and their service stops at the meter. The only thing they can do is confirm there’s a leak and lock the meter shut. Sometimes their leak tests are not accurate. It’s not uncommon for us to show up to a gas leak where Atmos or CoServ (or Fire Dept) has locked the meter and there is no leak to be found. As we mentioned above, if the meter gets locked, we have to go through additional testing, permits and fees to get it unlocked, adding to your overall invoice. If the problem happens on a Friday, we have to wait until the following Monday, unless it’s in the winter. So, option 1 is always preferred if you know where the shutoff is and can turn that valve handle a quarter turn!

Knowing where your shutoff is and calling a local licensed plumber (Earl’s Plumbing!) is your best option.

How to Find and Turn Off Water Heater Shutoff Valve

This valve is pretty obvious. It’s always on the main water line going into the water heater. This is typically on the right side of the heater’s location. Both tankless and tank water heaters will have one — and sometimes more than one — shutoff valve.

Older tank water heaters will likely have a multi-turn gate valve, BUT they may not function properly, so be careful. Newer water heaters and most tankless water heaters, IF INSTALLED CORRECTLY, will have quarter-turn ball valves and usually more than one.

Note that many of the larger houses in our area may have a recirculation pump and/or a dedicated recirculation line. This is important to note in case of an emergency or when work is performed as this pump’s shutoff valves will need to be turned off and the pump unplugged to stop the hot water flow.

Call Earl’s Plumbing for Shutoff Valve Services

If you’re not sure about the location or condition of your shutoff valves or any other plumbing item concern, give Earl’s Plumbing a call, and we can come to inspect all of your plumbing systems and devices and give you a no-obligation estimate with a priority level recommendation to replace or repair like new.

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West Frisco, TX
2770 Main St Suite #263
Frisco, TX 75033
East Frisco, TX
11625 Custer Rd #110
Frisco, TX 75035