Locating Your Shut-off Valves. Do it NOW!


If your plumbing suddenly springs a major leak and your house is flooding by the second, your first instinct might be to call a plumber. Well, you will probably need to call a plumber eventually, but your first action should be to shut off your home’s main water valve immediately. Sounds simple enough IF you know where it is and how to close it.

Shut It Down

If your home is connected to the city water supply, you have a main shut-off valve that stops the flow of water to all the pipes and fixtures in your home. In most cases, this valve is located next to the water meter.

Sometimes the location of the water meter is not obvious. It could be mounted to the side of the house or installed on a short post. Often, however, it’s underground. If you don’t see the meter, check around for some sort of metal cover similar to a manhole cover. If you can’t find the water meter, your local water authority or plumber can help.

The shut-off valve will be connected to the water line next to the water meter. Some valves look like ordinary spigot handles while others are metal flanges that may appear to be part of the water line. If you can’t turn the valve by hand, a pipe wrench or water key may be required. You should have the correct tools handy in case of emergency.

Here, There, and Everywhere

It may also be helpful to shut off the valves to your individual fixtures and appliances. Sink valves are usually in the cabinet underneath the sink; toilet valves are usually a small valve attached to the water line leading from the wall to the toilet. It may be a little more difficult to locate and turn off valves to your appliances.