It's not always easy to find the main water shut off, especially when you are in an emergency or urgent situation. Newer homes are built to codes that require the main water shut off valve to be properly identified and accessible. When I enter an unfamiliar building to provide service, one of the first things I want to know is where to find the water main shut off. A common answer is "at the meter"; which is never a good sign. Using the municipal water meter as a means of turning off the water supply should be a last resort. Why? Well for a number of reasons;
-the meter is the property of the water purveyor and if you damage it, you are liable for the costs to repair the damages.
-turning off the valve at the meter requires a
tool, commonly know as a "meter key". This tool is readily available at most hardware stores., but most homeowners don't have one.
-even with the proper tool the meter shut off can be very difficult to turn. I have seen tools break and injury occur.
-And then there is the "Widow Facotr"!!!
This is what will stop most people dead in their tracks. The water meter box is a favored nesting place of one very dangerous and common spider; The Black Widow.
I have been careless enough to believe they were not present, only to reach down into a box and then see them tucked up under the rim. In general I don' fear spiders but It's pretty unsettling indeed to find yourself upside down in a cramped space and come face to face with a Widow spider.
I am happy to say I have never been bitten. I do know several folks that have endured the wrath of the Widow and it is NOT something I care to experience or would want an unsuspecting homeowner to experience. So here is my fare warning to all of the do it yourself-ers out there; Never reach into a water meter box without first thoroughly checking for the presence of The Widow.