We regularly remind people to occasionally turn their shut-off valves off and on. A shut-off valve is one like you have below your toilet. Not all, but most faucets, whether kitchen or bathroom, have shut-off valves. You’ll also have some in the basement on your water lines, as well as a valve to shut the water off for the entire house.
One reason we suggest you occasionally turn these valves is so that they don’t stick. After a period of non-use, these valves can get so hard to turn that a wrench is required to turn them, and that can also lead to the handle breaking. If you are having a faucet replaced, or replacing parts to your toilet, the water has to be shut off. Or, if you have a sudden leak, you will want to quickly shut the water off to the toilet or faucet. If you have a problem turning the valve at this point, your only option is to turn the water off to the whole house. You’re then faced with having no water until the leak is fixed.
By occasionally turning these valves (including the whole-house shut-off valve), you can be sure that they are working properly and will shut the water off when you need to. If you don’t have shut-off valves for your faucets, they can be added fairly easily, if you know to sweat copper pipes.
Occasionally, these shut-off valves can develop a small drip, especially after they have been turned off. If this happens, tightening the nut behind the handle will usually do the trick. Also occasionally, when you turn a valve off, it doesn’t completely stop the water. In this case, the washer on the shut-off needs to be replaced. If this happens, and you don’t know how to replace the valve, you can try taking just the stem of the valve from a new one and replacing it in the existing valve, as long as they are the same size.
By adding the turning of these valves to a regular household checklist, you will be certain that when needed, the valves will work as they are supposed to. It would be a great way to start the new year in keeping up with your home.