You probably take indoor plumbing for granted. When you turn on a faucet, flush the toilet, or start a load of laundry, you expect everything to go smoothly. But what if a leak develops or the toilet overflows? These problems demand a quick response to minimize water damage. Learn how to find and operate your house water valve so you’re prepared the next time disaster strikes.
Common Home Water Shut-Off Valve Locations
If the main water valve is inside, it will be located on the main water line where it enters your home. Check the following locations as you hunt for the valve:
- On a perimeter wall near the front of your house: The main water line enters from the street, so check a wall at or below ground level on this side of your house.
- In the crawlspace or basement: If your home has any subterranean areas, this is probably where the shut-off valve is located.
- Near the water heater or furnace: If your home has no crawlspace or basement, but it does have a mechanical room, check there for the shut-off valve.
- In the garage: No basement? No mechanical room? Check the garage.
- Outside near the curb: If your efforts to find the main water valve prove fruitless, this could be because it’s not located inside. Sometimes, the shut-off valve is buried in a streetside utility box. Walk to where your property line meets the sidewalk or street, and look for a metal or plastic utility box labeled “water,” “water meter,” or something similar.
If you still have trouble finding the water line shut-off valve, try checking the home inspection report you received when you bought your house. The shut-off valve location should be clearly labeled.
How to Turn Different Types of Main Water Shut-Off Valves
Not only can valves be located in different places, but they can be different styles as well. Here’s how to operate the three types of main water shut-off valves.
Turning a Ball Shut-Off Valve
A ball valve features a straight handle that runs parallel to the pipe when the water is flowing. To shut off the water, turn the valve by hand 90 degrees until it stops perpendicular to the pipe.
Turning a Gate Shut-Off Valve
A gate valve has a round handle. To shut off the water, turn the valve clockwise several times until it tightens. It should be possible to twist the valve by hand.
Turning a Shut-Off Valve in a Streetside Utility Box
First, remove the lid from the ground-level utility box to access the valve inside. You may need a meter key to do this, which you can purchase at any home improvement store. To save yourself a trip, try opening the lid with a crescent wrench and screwdriver first.
Now, look inside the utility box. You may see two valves—one on the street side and one facing your home. The house-side valve is the one you want to turn. It may be difficult to shut off the valve by hand, assuming it hasn’t been turned in years. Luckily, a pair of pliers should get the job done.
Shutting Off Household Water Valves Near the Source
If a specific plumbing appliance or fixture is leaking, you may not need to shut off the main water valve. Toilets, sinks, and washing machines usually have easily visible shut-off mechanisms that let you cut off the water near the source. Here’s where to find them:
- Shut off water to a toilet: Check the wall behind the porcelain throne for a small valve. Turn it clockwise to cut off water to the toilet. If you flush now, the tank won’t fill back up until you restore the flow of water.
- Shut off water to a sink: Check below the sink for two shut-off valves—one for cold water and one for hot. Turn one or both valves as needed. Then, turn on the faucet to test that no water is coming out.
- Shut off water to the washing machine: Some appliances have exposed valves on the wall behind them. You may need to pull the washer out to see the valves further down the wall. Once you spot them, turn both knobs clockwise to shut off the water.
Turning your main water shut-off valve to prevent water damage is just one way to take control of your plumbing system. Another is to install a whole-home water softener from Kinetico Water. We are committed to providing better water for better living. The first step is to schedule a free water analysis, so contact us today at (480) 497-0488 to get started! We have proudly served homes and businesses in Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, and Scottsdale, AZ for many decades.