Mysteries Solved by Alex Guthrie

Some mysteries just aren’t fun; like the time I was trying to find a clients water meter and even with the assistance of 2 plumbers could not locate it. This shouldn’t have been difficult, it’s a relatively simple thing, find the water meter cover; open it and turn off the water. Only problem, no one including the property owner realized that the water meter had never been hooked to the water supply. The house was still hooked up to the temporary water supply from when the house was built years before; and buried underground. It occurred to me, what if there had been an emergency and the water to the house needed to be turned off? In fact it was odd that that hadn’t occurred!

It surprises me that homeowners aren’t more in tune with how their house operates, especially potentially dangerous things like gas and electrical. Unfortunately, many times this isn’t a priority for the builder and most cities don’t regulate the accessibility to these services. So you may have to run to the street to turn off your water or to the ally to turn off your gas. Your sewer clean-outs may be buried in the garden and your electrical panel might be in the garage or a closet or the outside wall.

Air conditioner compressors ( the big noisy thing outside) are supposed to have a disconnect on the wall with-in reach of the unit but occasionally don’t.  It’s a good idea to know how to turn this off just in case.

Not all water meters are the same but there is a simple and inexpensive tool called a meter wrench that you should have ready to use in case you need it. This tool has a key on one end that unlocks and opens the meter cover and a 2 pronged wrench on the other end for actually turning the water valve on or off. Be aware that fire ants and other critters sometimes love nesting in meters.

Your gas meter will normally be in the alley but in some older neighborhoods are in the front of the house. Learn which position is off, the water meter wrench might work for this or a pair of channel locks (pliers).

You can save yourself a lot of unpleasantness by knowing where your sewer clean-outs are located in the yard and in the exterior wall of the house. Normally these are in key locations and are simple to open. Look for white PVC caps sticking up near the house or in a wall. If you suddenly have a sewage back-up open these caps and often the sewage will come out before it’s in the house.

Some houses have multiple electrical panels; know where they are and how to turn them on and off. Also, learn how to turn off or reset your smoke and fire alarms.

Mystery solved!

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