Whether you are in the throes of a remodeling project or you’ve discovered a leak, knowing how and where to shut off the water to your home could potentially save you time, money and heartache!
There are two main ways to cut off the water supply to your home; a shut-off valve within the home and a main water valve outside, generally near your meter. The first of the two is by far the best way to halt your water supply and does not generally involve special tools or digging.
The Shut-Off Valve Within the House
Older homes may still have this valve on the exterior of the home but newer homes are required to install an interior shut off valve at the time of construction. First, make sure you know the construction type of your home. Was it built on a concrete slab? Does it have a basement? Crawl space? The construction of a home will help you determine where the valve may be. Second, know what you are looking for. There are two main types of shut-off valves, a Gate Valve (rotate clockwise) or a Ball Valve (turn perpendicular – 90°). Samples of both valves are pictured below:
Concrete Slab Construction: More often than not, your shut-off valve is located near your water heater. It is usually either underneath the tank or up above it.
Basement Construction: Most of the time, you’ll find your shut-off valve located in the basement itself. If you can locate where the water is coming into the house from the exterior, you’ll generally find the valve at the corresponding interior location.
Crawlspace Construction: You might need to get a little dirty for this one unless your crawlspace is cleaner than most. Once inside, you’ll likely find the valve somewhere along the front wall of your home.
The Shut-Off Valve Outside of the House:
If you find yourself in an emergency and are unable to locate the interior water shut-off valve, you can always shut the water off at the main, located outside of your house. You can often find this at the front of your property where the main city water comes in. It’s generally in a covered box and can sometimes be under a thin layer of landscaping. This can be a little more complicated but certainly doable.
If the valve is a Gate Valve, rotate clockwise. If it is a lever or Ball Valve turn it perpendicular – 90°. In some instances, the valve is a little different than one of the above and you’ll need a particular tool to shut it off. This tool is called the Water Meter Valve Key and can be purchased quite inexpensively at stores like Home Depot.
Interior Water Source Shut-Offs:
If you are just having a simple leak on the interior of your house that is related to a specific plumbing fixture like the toilet, sink, washer, etc; we’ve provided some tips on how to shut those off:
Toilet: Against the wall, under the toilet, you should see metal tubing that is often flexible. The handle attached to that tubing needs to be turned clockwise which will stop the water from coming through that particular fixture.
Sink: Under sinks (or behind, in the case of some pedestal sinks), you’ll generally see two sets of tubing, one hot, one cold. Turn both knobs/handles clockwise to stop the water flow.
Washing Machine: You may or may not have to move your washer out of the way to reach the two knobs/handles. Once reached, turn both clockwise to stop the water flow.
Bathtub: If your bathtub does not have exposed plumbing with which to turn off the water supply, it’s best to turn the water off at the main interior water valve as mentioned at the beginning of the article.
No matter which way you look at it, knowing how to stop the flow of water to your home BEFORE a problem occurs is most certainly a good idea. Through this process, if you find that your interior main water shut-off is in an awkward place that is difficult to access, give The Plumbing Joint a call and we’ll help you get it relocated right away!