By Sean McCahill
How to Turn Off the Main Water Supply to Your Home
Shutting off the main water supply to your home seems so simple, but surprisingly many homeowners don’t know how to do it or even where to look.
Cutting off the water supply to your home may be necessary in the event of a burst water pipe in your home, water leak, or any serious plumbing repair. It is also essential to know where to look in your home to find the water cut-off valves.
In warmer climates the main cut-off valves are usually outdoors, whilst in colder climates these valves are usually indoors. The water shut-off valves have either lever or round wheel handles.
• Water shut-off valves: can be found in the following locations in or around your home:
• Outside: The shut-off valve is normally inside an underground ‘pit’ near the property line. These ‘pits’ usually have a cover that can be removed which gives direct access to the valve. This valve usually shuts off water to the entire property including sprinkler systems and outside hose
• Basements: This shut-off valve is usually found near the front foundation wall inside the home. The main water supply usually comes through the basement concrete floor or through the basement wall. In some cases, the main water could enter through a different area, such as near the furnace or water heater.
• Crawl-spaces with a basement: This shut-off valve is generally found where water enters the basement. In older homes, the shut-off can be located inside of the crawl space. It is usually ideal to have a secondary shut-off valve in the living space (under a sink or near the water heater).
• Crawl-spaces without a basement: This type of valve is typically found near the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but anywhere is possible. In some instances, the shut-off valve is found on a pipe near the water heater and may have a red handle.
• Slab-on-grade construction: This shut-off valve is located inside the home near the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but can be found elsewhere in the home.
• It is important to know how to close (turn off) the valves. The tips below will explain this in detail. It is important to note that if a valve is difficult to turn – DO NOT force it. Call a licensed plumber or the local public works authority for assistance.
• Round wheel handle valves will close (turn off) by turning the handle to the right (clockwise). A few turns should stop the wheel.
• Handle valves should slowly be turned clockwise ¼ turn. The handle should no longer be parallel with the pipe. It should stop at a ¼ turn.
• Tub and sink faucets (hot & cold) should be opened on the highest level to relieve pressure and to ensure a full shut-down. Continue to open faucets inside the home to drain the pipes as needed.
• When draining the water from your home it is important to shut off power to electric water heaters and boilers. This de-energizes the water heater and boiler. In the case of gas water heaters, shut off the gas to the heater.
• Close all faucets except for the tub or sink.
• The valves should be turned on (counter-clockwise) slowly, and extra slow for lever handles. You should stop turning after ½ revolution on a wheel handle and ⅛ of a turn for lever handles. At this point slowly turn off the open tub or sink faucets.
• Once the water pressure equalizes (intermittent noise ends from faucets) then fully open the main valve. Bleed air from lines by slowly opening all water lines to the property, waiting until the noise ends, followed by closing the water line.
• It is important to note that the power should only be turned on to electric water heaters and boilers after the water system is completely full and all air has been bled-out. If the gas for a gas heater was shut off carefully follow the restarting instructions located on the appliance jacket or call a licensed plumber or gas company for assistance.