How to Shut Off Your Home’s Water Supply

When you first notice rushing water in your home, remain calm and find your water shut-off valve.  Uncontrolled water in your home is not only unsafe, but it can also create extensive damage. As long as the water is coming from your home’s own water supply, you can quickly shut it off to prevent further damage that may require extensive cleanup from a water restoration company. Read on to learn the necessary steps you’ll need to take to safely turn off your home’s water supply.

In most homes you can shut off the water supply at the main water cut off valve. This valve will effectively turn off all water to the entire house, including all outside spigots. Newer homes are equipped with multiple upstream valves that allow you to shut off water to specific areas without turning off water to the entire house.

Turn off Water Closest to the Source

Water leaks inside your home can come from a variety of sources—toilet, sink, washing machines, bathtub and other sources. When you notice water leaking, it is recommended that you shut off the water supply closest to the source of the leak.

  • Toilet: Under the toilet, there is a flexible metal tubing. Turn the handle on the tubing clockwise until the handle stops and you can’t turn the handle anymore. Don’t force the handle to turn anymore, as most are made of plastic and can break easily.
  • Sink: Under the sink, there will be two sets of flexible metal tubing. Turn both handles clockwise to turn off both the hot and cold water supply.
  • Washing Machine: In some homes, the water valves are clearly visible above and behind the washer. If this is the case in your home, turn both the hot and cold-water valves clockwise to shut off the water supply. If you can not see the valves, slide your washer out, away from the wall, and you should be able to locate them.
  • Bathtub: Bathtubs with exposed plumbing will have their shut-off valves clearly visible. Turn both valves clockwise to shut off the water supply.

Inside Water Cut Off Valve

If you are unable to shut off the water at the source or need to shut off water to multiple areas of your home, your best option will be to locate the water cut off valve inside your home. This will effectively shut off water to your entire home, allowing you to repair or open any pipes without worry about water flowing out. The inside valve is easy to shut off, easy to access, and does not require any special tools or digging to locate. If you’re not sure where to locate your inside water valve, here are a few places to look:

  • Inside Perimeter: In most homes, the shut-off valve will be located near the perimeter of the home, generally on the side closest to the road.
  • Ground Level: When searching for the shut-off valve, you’ll want to keep your focus on ground level. This means that if you are in the basement, you’ll want to look for your valve at eye-level or above. If you are on the main level of your home, you’ll want to look closer to the floor.
  • Straight Line: The water line from the outside meter generally comes in a straight line to your home, as water lines will take the shortest path to enter a home. Where the outside line meets your home is the most likely place to find your shut-off valve.
  • Access Panels: Look along your walls and inside closets for any access panels. Code requires that water shut-off valves not be sealed behind drywall. However, previous homeowners and legitimate contractors may have created an access panel around the valve.

Outside Meter Shut-Off Valve

If you are unable to successfully shut off the water at the source from the inside water shut off, your next option will be to turn it off at the meter outside. This method will shut off all water in the house. Additionally, this option is the most difficult because it requires tools and sometimes even digging to reach.

First, you’ll need to locate the round, square, or rectangular steel or iron lid located at ground level outside, near the road. If there is dirt or sand on top of the lid, brush it aside but do not discard it. If you live in an area that freezes in the winter, the sand or dirt is used to prevent the pipes from freezing. Inside the box, you will find three things:

  • Water Meter: This is a glass covered meter that sometimes has a second cover to protect the glass. You’ll ignore this, as it has nothing to do with turning off the water.
  • Water Cut off Valve: This is located on the street side of the meter and is designed so that only the water company is able to turn it off using a special tool. Do not attempt to turn this valve off, as there may be legal ramifications for doing so.
  • Your Shut-Off Valve: This valve will be located on the side of the meter closest to your home. It may be equipped with a knob for turning it on and off or it may have a nut.

Knowing how to safely and quickly turn off your homes water supply can prevent excessive damage from occurring in the event you have a leak. If a leak occurs while you are away from home, a water restoration company can quickly and professionally clean up and restore your home from any water damage that has occurred.