For many homeowners and business owners, it’s not the below zero temperatures that are the problem with pipes, it’s when temperatures get above freezing, the water thaws and pours out of the pipe that’s burst due to the freeze.
It’s important that you know where the main cutoff valve is for water service in your home or business.
This picture shows a typical cutoff valve. It’s close to where the main water pipe comes into your home or business. Typically it’s in the basement and comes out of the wall or floor. If you don’t have a basement, it will come out of the floor or a wall at the lowest level. It can be in a closet, behind a water heater or access panel. In some homes with attached garages, it can be there.
If you have a water leak or a burst pipe, the first thing to do is turn the water off and minimize the damage. To close most valves, turn the handle counter clockwise. Other valves may just have a handle that you turn a half turn to the off position.
It’s important to “exercise” this valve every three months. Just make sure you can turn it a full turn. Then open it all the way and back it off a quarter turn. If you don’t exercise this valve every so often, it can “freeze” in place. If this happens and have a water emergency in your home or business, the only way to turn off the water will be from the main shutoff valve in the street. Only a plumber or the water company can do this.
Here’s a video that explains how to find the water shutoff valve.
More about what to do with frozen pipes and how to prevent them from happening