A recent Glencoe home inspection explains why it is so pertinent to have the location of the exterior curb box for the water supply to the home documented during a home inspection.  A curb box or buffalo box is the exterior shut off for the water supply main to the home that is located usually within the first 10 feet from the street to the home.  This valve is used in emergencies to shut off the water off in the home if there are major issues in the home that cannot be shut off from the interior water main shut off valve.    If you live in an older home your curb box or buffalo box may be under dirt due to the age of the home and the fact that the dirt around the home is constantly changing.  A covered or not located curb box or buffalo box can pose many issues.  Some of the issues include.

  • Damaged or missing curb box cover that can allow debris or water entry in the valve housing.  Debris in curb box housing can prevent the use of the valve in emergencies.
  • Not located curb boxes prevent emergency shut off of the water supply from the exterior if the interior valve has been damaged or compromised.

While performing the recent Home inspection in Glencoe Illinois we were restricted from the locating of the curb box for the water supply.  The large amount of snow that we recently received in the Midwest prevented proper location of this curb box.  In this situation we recommend that the seller or the buyer of the home to contact the village, city or town that they are buying the home in to assist in locating the curb box.  Most of the municipalities have a plumbing department that can assist in the location of the curb box prior to closing.  Usually the curb boxes can be found quickly by the city or village plumbing departments as long as snow and ice are not 3′ -4′ deep.

When the curb boxes are located the village or town plumbing department may also paint the cover blue to assure location of this curb box is easy to perform in the future.  This is exactly what was done for the clients of the Glencoe home inspection.  My clients from this property had no idea how important the curb box was to their new home.  To be honest, I understand.  I have clients in our plumbing company that have lived in their homes for 30 years and never seen or used their curb box.  A curb box only has a value when you really need it.  That is why the location of the curb box was brought up during the Glencoe home inspection.

If you are a home buyer this should be on your question list for your home inspector to look for if he or she does not bring it to your attention.  If you are a homeowner and do not know where your curb box is located then I suggest you contact your city or towns plumbing department to inquire if they will assist in the location of this valve to assure the location is documented in emergency settings.

Please contact me if you have any questions on any questions pertaining to curb boxes at pinnaclepropertyinspection.com or at 312-961-4228.  Thanks for stopping by and stay warm.


Jim Kolke

Thermal Home Inspector