All modern homes in Arizona have both main shutoff valves and shutoff valves located near individual appliances. Be aware of where these valves are located and how to operate them. This is not necessarily a home inspection issue, unless the valves are broken, leaking or otherwise not operating properly. All valves should be working properly in order to pass a Phoenix home inspection, and possibly other geographic areas where properly operating shutoffs can be a building code compliance issue.
Water, natural gas and propane sources will each have a main shutoff valve, most likely located near where the source of the water or gas enters the home. All appliances should also have an isolation valve very close to the appliance.
This Phoenix home inspection video tip explains the importance of knowing where to find these valves and how to use them.
There are three primary reasons to turn off the supply of gas and/or water to a home.
- To repair or replace an appliance. This could be a hot water heater, furnace, gas stove, sink, toilet, shower, bath tub, clothes washer, or other appliance. Most often in this situation, only the isolation valve located near the appliance needs to be turned off.
- In an emergency. A pipe break or major water leak may require the main valve to be shut off. In the case of a gas leak that’s difficult to locate, the wisest way to deal with it can be to leave the home and locate the main gas shutoff valve on the outside of the home. You may need a wrench to shut off the main gas valve. If water is leaking behind a wall due to a leaking or broken pipe, turning off the main water valve may be the best option. Whenever you have a gas or water leak, call the local gas utility company or a plumber to fix the problem. Keep the main valve shut off until they find and repair the problem. Never re-enter a home with a gas leak until it has been repaired.
- When the home is vacant for an extended period. Most real estate people will tell you that one of the main potential problems with vacant homes is water damage due to a burst pipe. If you are going to turn off the water while the home is vacant, or if you turn it off while leaving for a vacation, keep in mind that sprinkler and drip watering systems may not operate. If you live in a cold climate, a lack of heat in the home due to a gas furnace being shut off could cause water pipes to freeze and burst. When a home is vacant for a long period of time, there are pros and cons with the choice to shut off the main valves or leaving them turned on. Consider all possibilities for problems before making a decision.
An important safety factor to keep in mind is that whenever a gas valve to an appliance is shut off, you may have to manually re-light the pilot light in the appliance. Some modern appliances have an automatic ignition device, but many do not. Refer to the appliance’s user manual to find out if the appliance has a pilot light that needs to be manually re-lit.