A burst pipe or ruptured line can quickly wreck your home and property, costing you a significant amount of money. In the face of an emergency, knowing where your water shutoff valve is will save you considerable trouble.
Every home has a main water supply shut-off valve, and it's vital for everyone living in your home to know where yours is located.
The location of the main water shut-off valve varies from home to home. Most times, you can find this valve inside your home. If it's not inside, it will be on your property boundary line or in your street in a covered box situated in an underground "pit." To find your water shutoff valve, look for the following:
If your home has a basement or crawl space, your water shutoff valve may be located there. You will typically find it near the front foundation wall. The water shutoff valve is usually located within a few feet of where the main water pipe enters the house from the water meter.
For homes with a crawl space but no basement, the typical place to find the shutoff valve is under the kitchen sink or close to the water heater. If you find the valve inside the crawlspace, there's a probability of a second valve in your living space. If your home is constructed on a slab, you may find the valve near the water heater or in the garage.
Check the property inspection report if you've had no luck locating your water shutoff valve after searching your home. The information you need will be in the report's plumbing section, which should have been completed in the final stages of purchasing your home.
If the main water shut-off valve isn't inside your home, it must be outside. Some homes have underground valves on the property boundary line or the street. It is usually called a curb valve and is buried in a rectangular or round metal cover labeled "water meter." However, you may need a "meter key" to access the cement box it is placed in. You can purchase this key at a local hardware store.
The water shut-off valve will either be a gate or a ball valve. If it is located inside your home, it will likely be a gate valve.
Gate valves are also referred to as round "wheel" handle valves. They are turned off by turning the handle clockwise several times. It may take two or more full revolutions to shut off the water. If old water shut-off valves are damaged or corroded, we recommend calling a plumber to help you if you find it difficult to turn the valve by hand.
A ball valve is a straight handle; you know it is open when it is parallel to the pipe. Turn it off by moving the handle from a parallel to a perpendicular position. The body of a ball valve has stops that allow the handle to move in either direction and will stop it once it's fully perpendicular.
Turning off valves outside your home isn't as simple as the inside valves. Once you've located the utility box, lift the cover, and set it aside. You may need pliers or a wrench to remove the bolt holding the cover in place. Some boxes require a meter key to unlock them.
Once you've successfully removed the cover, you will see the glass-covered water meter, which you can ignore. You may find two valves in the box: the street-side valve and the house-side valve.
You'll find this valve on the street side of the water meter. The valve is designed so that it is not easy to turn off. Only the water company can do that using a special tool. Be careful not to mess with this valve, as there may be legal consequences.
This valve is on the house side of the meter, which is closest to the house on the exterior wall. To turn the valve off, turn it clockwise. You may need a meter key or a wrench to turn it off.
You now know how to find your main water shut-off valve and turn off the water supply. This is crucial information, and it may be what will save you from the high cost of damaged property.