water valve

How to Find and Turn Off Water Shut-Off Valves

How to Find and Turn Off Water Shut-Off Valves

November 17, 2017

water valve

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When you are faced with a plumbing emergency, such as frozen pipes, overflowing toilets, or a leaking appliance, you don’t want to waste any time searching for your water shut-off valves. If you have to wait for the fire department to shut the water off for you, you risk thousands of dollars (or more) in water damage, so you should know how to find and turn off your water shut-off valves.

You may also want to shut off your water supply before leaving on vacation.

All homeowners should know the locations and operation instructions for things like their electrical panel, gas and water shut-offs. With some pre-planning and quick thinking, you can avoid thousands of dollars of water damage in the event of a water leak.

Individual Appliances: How to Find and Turn Off Water Shut-Off Valves

You can find individual water shut-off valves on a variety of water sources for your home, including:

  • Toilets
  • Appliances
  • Washers
  • Appliances
  • Sprinklers
  • Humidifiers
  • And More

Typically, you can find small water shut-offs near the water source in question. For instance, the individual water shut-off (silver oblong handle) for your toilet is often right below the toilet tank.

If you cannot find the water shut-off near the source, you may have to go to the lower level and look for the shut-off underneath the plumbing, perhaps in a basement utility closet.

The shapes and sizes for individual shut-off valves vary. Sometimes they are oblong, while other times they may look like a cross, handle, or knob.

Occasionally, there may not be an accessible water shut-off, as is often the case for tubs and showers. You may have a closet, panel, or access in areas behind the bathroom, but if not, you’ll need a plumber to access and shut off these individual shut-off valves.

To shut your water off, turn your individual water shut-off valves CLOCKWISE until they stop moving.

Main Water Valve: How to Find and Turn off Water Shut-Off Valves

Sometimes, you’ll want to cut off the water supply for the entire home. If you live in an area with less severe winters, your main water shut-off will probably be located outside, normally in an underground box near the front curb.

Keep in mind that you may need a “meter key” to open the box. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one at your local home improvement store. Watch out for bugs and other critters. We suggest wearing gloves for the job. You may need to clean a lot of dirt and debris to see the different components clearly.

Watch these videos to learn how to open your outdoor water meter box and turn off the main water shut-off valve:

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Turn the water valve CLOCKWISE to shut your main water supply off! You can test by looking at the leak detection dial to see if it stops spinning or not.

Knowing where your water meter is can also help when trying to find out if you have a water leak. If the leak detection dial is spinning when nobody is using any water in the home, you have a water leak.

Don’t have a leak detection dial? Simply write down the water usage number, wait an hour without using any water whatsoever, then return and write down the water number again. Is there a difference? You have a water leak.

According to the EPA, “Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.” In addition to finding and fixing water leaks in the home, there are many other ways to reduce water heating bills.

If you live in a colder area, look for the main water shut-off in your basement, laundry room, or utility closet. It is normally located near the inside perimeter of your home, facing the street side. Is your house built on a slab? Look for the main water shut-off valve in your garage or by the water heater.

If you still cannot find your main water shut-off valve, find your property inspection report and look for section 6.1.

Water Meter Warning:

Do not touch the pressure regulator on your main water shut-off valve! Only qualified plumbers should adjust the water pressure. Also, never mess with the city water shut-off side or the meter itself. It’s a felony to tamper with your water meter or any other facilities of public utilities. The only thing you are allowed to do is with your main valve and you can only turn on or turn off water shut-off valves.

If you have any questions or doubt, don’t hesitate to call your local plumber.

Schedule your winter heating and plumbing maintenance service in Denver today, or sign up for our home maintenance plan, the Fix-It Green Club.

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