If you find yourself in an emergency situation with a water leak in your home, then it is important to know where your water main is located, & how to turn it off in order to prevent major damage to your home & property. It’s also important to know where the isolation valves are on the various plumbing fixtures in your home, such as your toilet, water heater, sink, and other water fixtures. Knowing where these shutoff valves are located & how to turn them off is an important part of being an educated homeowner.
When the weather outside dips below freezing, the pipes in your home have a chance of freezing & bursting, and can cause untold amounts of damage to your property. Knowing how to shutoff your water main can help negate the damage from these catastrophic events.
In newer homes, the water main shutoff valve is typically located inside or around the water heater closet. Very often, however, the valve can be in any number of places inside, or even outside your home.
The valve itself may look like a handle or knob, that either needs to be pulled or turned in a clockwise/counterclockwise direction. These are known as either a “ball valve” or “gate valve.” Sometimes the valve will be labeled, but often time it is very inconspicuous. If your home was built on a concrete slab, then the shutoff valve is most likely to be located near your water heater.
For homes that are built with a crawlspace or basement, oftentimes the main shutoff valve is located near the water meter connected to your home. This may be on an exterior wall, or underneath a sewer cover in your yard. Oftentimes, you will need a special meter key to either shut off the valve or access the meter altogether. These meter keys can usually be purchased at your local hardware or supply store.
There are usually 2 shutoff valves located on your water meter – a city shutoff valve, and a customer shutoff valve.
IMPORTANT: Do not tamper with the city side shutoff valve or the water meter itself. In many municipalities it is illegal to turn on the city shut off if it has been turned off by the city, and it is illegal to tamper with or obstruct the water meter.
If you can’t locate the water meter, then you should call your local water department that can assist you with finding its location and shutoff valve. If you have a leak within your pipes, they should be able to help confirm that based on your water usage.
If there is an appliance or fixture in your home that is connected to your water main, then it will also have an isolation valve that allows you to shut off water directly to that fixture or area. Sinks, water heaters, toilets, etc. all have shutoff valves located near the fixture that allow you to shut off water access individually.
After you have located the appropriate shut off valve, it is important to then call your local trusted plumber, like Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric to detect where the leak is coming from, and perform appropriate repairs. If done right, this process will ensure that the damage done to your home & property is minimal.