Shutoff valves are devices that can be put on any fixture to shut off the water immediately to that fixture, rather than having to shut off the water to the entire house. According to Randy and Rex Latta at Latta Plumbing Inc, the drain cleaning specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, not having a shutoff valve installed on the line below a kitchen sink is a big mistake that could end up costing you dearly should a problem come up with your plumbing that needs to be repaired quickly.
While shutoff valves are standard in all homes built today, there are many older homes that still don't have them installedusually because the homes haven't been renovated in recent years or because the homeowners don't know that shutoff valves are necessary.
Shutoff valves are key for fixtures that get worked on quite frequently, such as sinks and toilets. Without one, a homeowner would have to turn off the water to his entire home every time he wanted to make an adjustment to a kitchen or bathroom fixture. Kitchen sinks generally get worked on more than any other fixture in the home, so having a shutoff valve installed on the sink is especially important. If you don't have a shutoff valve on your sink, then it means you have got to go to the street to get that water turned off. But if you have that shutoff valve on, then you can work on that particular sink and everyone else can still have water in the meantime.
We recommend that any homeowner who is considering having shutoff valves installed make the call to have the job done now rather than later, since it's a matter of both safety and convenience.
The Time and Cost
In Birmingham, having drain work done on a fixture without a shutoff valve is going to take more time and money, since the plumbers working on the job will have to take the extra time to shut off the water to the entire homeincluding the water heaterbefore they can begin. Depending on the condition of the home's piping and the place where the shutoff valve is being installed, homeowners can expect that a basic shutoff valve installation should only take a few hoursand it certainly won't take an entire day to complete.
In order to have a shutoff valve installed, a plumber has to get underneath the house to see what piping and other lines the shutoff valve is going to be tying into. Costs on these types of services can be difficult for drain cleaners and plumbers in Birmingham to estimate, since older homes frequently have underlying plumbing issues that can drive up the cost of shutoff valve installation. It can get tricky, especially if the house is old and the pipes are old. Old pipes are generally weaker than newer pipes, and break more easily when being worked oneven by a skilled plumber.
People don't realize what a pain this is going to be until the job has already begun, and it's at that point that they really wish they would have had shutoff valves installed previously. Thankfully, most people who live in newer homes these days already have shutoff valves installed. Homes built in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s should all have shutoff valves installed on major fixtures, with newer homes obviously having even more valves in places.
Prior to the 1970s, however, the building codes were not as stringent and far fewer homes were built with shutoff valves specifically installed. Although many homeowners have installed these valves since then, there is no way to tell if an older home has them installed unless you make sure to check during the pre-purchase home inspection.
Ideally, there should be shutoff valves on everything that has water coming from it. If not, then a basic toilet drip or leaky sink is inevitably going to be much more difficult for a plumber to repair, since he'll have to turn off the water to the entire home just to make a simple fix.