Where is the Water Shut Off Valve?

You might find your main water shut off valve in one of several places in your home. Check here:

  • If your home has a cellar, basement, or crawl space, you might find the water shut off valve outside along an exterior wall on the side of your house that faces the street.
  • Homes built on a 90 degree pipe joints might have the main valve near a water heater or inside a garage.
  • It might also be outside of your house at the water meter in a ground-level cement box. The cement box is near the end of your property or close to the front curb on the property line.
  • If you live in an apartment, co-op, or condo, it will be near your home's main water lines, most likely under the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, or near your in-apartment washer and dryers. It is also possible that each of those is a separate line supplying water only to those areas.

If you are still having trouble locating the water main valve, check your property inspection reportfor its location. You can also contact your water company or a plumber. They can either guide you to it over the phone or come out to show you where the valve is located in person.

Other Water Shut Off Valves
Throughout a home are several valves to control the water flowing through the home's water pipes. You will find them underneath your kitchen sink, your bathroom sinks, and behind your washing machine. These valves are strategically placed so you can stop water flow to those specific areas only.

The main water valve, on the other hand, controls the water supply to your entire home. Turning off the main valve will stop all water from flowing through all water lines. That is necessary in case of a burst pipe, leak, or another plumbing emergency so you can mitigate further water damage.

You, as well as any other person in your home, should know where the water shut-off valve is, what it looks like, and which way the shut-off valves turn. It is best to learn this before you ever need the information. It can be challenging to concentrate on finding a shut-off valve when your pipe bursts and water is spraying everywhere.

Types of Water Shut Off Valves
It is essential that you know what handle valves look like so you can recognize yours on sight. The two most common designs of water shutoff valves are the gate valve and the ball valve.

Gate Valves
Gate valves are the knobs that look like spoked wheels and are often used with garden hoses and behind washing machines.

Ball Valves
If a house has either copper or plastic main water pipes, there is likely a ball valve. A ball valve has a handle that turns to run either parallel or perpendicular to the water pipe.

Which Way Do You Turn to Shut-Off the Water Valve?
You can turn off your main water supply valve by turning the handle clockwise. Just recall the old saying, "Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" for help.

With a ball valve, you will only need to turn it clockwise to a 90-degree angle. You will need to turn gate valves clockwise until they tighten up fully.

How to Loosen a Stuck Main Water Valve
When water valves do not get turned often, they tend to rust and get stuck. Sometimes, they become too difficult to turn by hand.

If you cannot turn your water valves by hand, you may need a water shut off tool from a home improvement store, such as Lowe's, Ace Hardware, or Home Depot. It is best to buy yours ahead of time, so it is on hand if you need it. They sell for only $8.00 to $15.00.

If there is so much corrosion that you cannot shut off the water with the tool, stop trying, and call a professional. Continuing to push on your own could cause irreparable damage and high expenses. After you get it turned, make it a habit to turn it occasionally to keep it from rusting again.

Tips to Remember When You Shut-Off the Main Water Supply

  • Be sure you only touch the homeowner's valve, which is typically on the side closest to your home. The city's side is usually the one closest to the road. Tampering with the city's side of the water supply is illegal.
  • If your valve is in the concrete underground box, pests and small animals might make a home in there. Use a flashlight and be careful sticking your hand in to turn off the water.

At your service,
Young Alfred