Many types of plumbing emergencies call for turning off the main water supply. Do you know the location of your home’s main water shut off valve? Equally as important are the shut off valves located behind individual fixtures and appliances. Learn how to find and turn off your home’s water supply to limit damage from broken or leaky pipes.
How to Find the Main Water Shut Off Valve
Check inside your house first. If your home has a basement or crawlspace, the shut off valve is probably located on a wall near the front of your house. If your home is built on a slab, check in the garage or near the water heater for the shut off valve.
Next, check outside your house. If the water main shut off valve is located outside, it will be buried underground near the street. Look for a round or rectangular metal cover flush with the grass or sidewalk. It might be labeled “water meter” to help you identify it. Under this cover is the water shut off valve.
If you still can’t find it, call your local Mr. Rooter® Plumbing for help.
How to Turn Off the Main Water Line
If the valve is located inside, turn it clockwise to shut off the water supply to your home. You shouldn’t require any tools – simply turn the valve by hand.
If the valve is located outside, you may need special tools to open the water meter cover. In most cases, a pentagon socket wrench is required to remove a security bolt holding the cover in place. If the bolt isn’t recessed, you may be able to turn it with a simple pair of pliers. Some covers feature a “key hole” that can only be opened with a meter key. Then, other covers lift off with no tools needed – just give the lid a twist.
With the cover removed, look inside and locate the residential water supply shut off valve (the one positioned closest to your house). Turning off the valve requires special tools. Most likely, you’ll need a meter key. If there’s room, you can probably twist the valve with an adjustable wrench. Your underground valve may look as though it could be turned by hand, but if it hasn’t moved in years, don’t count on it.
Whatever tools you use, turn the shut off valve clockwise all the way to bring the water flow to a standstill.
How to Shut Off Other Water Valves
When minor plumbing problems strike, you don’t need to shut off the water to the whole house –simply turn the valve behind the appliance or fixture that’s giving you trouble. The primary water shut off valves you should know about are located:
- Behind the washing machine: If the washer hose starts leaking or the appliance overflows, limit water damage by pulling the unit away from the wall and turning the shut off valve behind it clockwise.
- By the toilet: Whether your toilet is overflowing or you need to replace a leaky flapper, stop the flow of water by turning the shut off valve (located on the wall behind the toilet) clockwise.
- Under the sink: Before you repair or replace a faucet, turn off the water supply. You’ve got the hang of it now – twist the water shut off valve under the sink clockwise.
Now you know how to shut off the water to your whole house and individual appliances and fixtures. This skill could come in handy the next time you have a plumbing emergency. For more useful tips, please contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing.