How to Shut Your Home’s Water Off

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a homeowner like the sound of rushing water somewhere in the house. If you have a burst pipe, a ruptured washer hose, a leaking water heater or a faulty supply line, you need to know how to turn your water off quickly so you can mitigate the damage. And if you’re working on the plumbing or going out of town, you might want to turn off the water supply to your whole house for that, too.


Before you can turn off your home’s water supply, you need to locate your main water shut-off valve. Usually, it’s somewhere around the exterior walls of the house. In rare cases, though, you might have to shut off the water to your house in the street-side utility box. Ideally, you should locate your main water shut-off before you have an emergency leak -- that way, you can go straight to the valve and close it when your pipes burst in the middle of a cold winter’s night. Make sure everyone who lives with you knows where to locate the main water shut-off, so they’re not frantically texting you for help in the middle of a huge water leak. 


Finding Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve Is the Hard Part

In order to turn off the water to your whole house, you’ll need to locate the main water shut-off valve. This is the valve that controls the flow of water into your home, so it’s usually located inside near the perimeter wall of your home. If you have a basement, it’s probably in the basement. Most water mains begin at the street and progress in a straight line towards your house, so your main water shut-off value might be inside the exterior wall closest to the street. 

That’s not a hard-and-fast rule, however. Lots of things can happen to a neighborhood after houses are built, and those things include the relocation of roads and alleys, so your main water shut-off valve could be on the wall furthest from the street, or on one of the side walls. 

If you really have no idea where it is, take a look at your property inspection report. Your home inspector will have located the main water shut-off and should have even photographed it for the report. The inspector will have described its location, too.  

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Close the Valve

Once you’ve located the main water valve -- it may be labeled “water”, and if it isn’t, it probably should be -- you can close the valve. If it’s a knife-style valve, with a straight handle like a knife handle, it’s open when it’s parallel to the pipe. Turn it a corner turn to the left to close the valve. You can’t mess this one up -- it only turns in one direction.

If you have a knob, though, you need to turn it clockwise. You’ll have to turn it several times to close the valve completely. 

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DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations. 

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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