Unplugging the Mystery of Learning How to Shut Off Your Main Water Valve

The most wonderful time of the year is now in season, which means it’s also high time for plumbing emergencies and problems. As aggravating and even intimidating as dealing with plumbing issues can be, being prepared can help keep you calm and focused in the event of a plumbing emergency. It can also save you a bit of money by reducing the risk of water damage!

How to Turn off Your Main Water Valve

One of the best ways to prepare for a plumbing emergency is knowing where your property’s main water valve is and how to shut it off. Did you know that a mere two-minute delay during a pipe burst can result in a bathtub’s worth full of water — roughly 30 gallons or so — of spilled water inside your home? Here’s how to find and turn off your main water valve:

  • Find your main water valve: The location of your home’s main water valve is very much dependent on where you live. In colder climates, it will be located inside your home in an area such as the basement, crawlspace, or utility room to prevent freezing. In warmer climates, it’s more likely to be found on an outside wall. Main water valves can be identified by their brass valves and handle located close to your water meter. Round handles that look like wheels are known as gate valves while flat handles that look similar to popsicle sticks are referred to as ball valves. Once you’ve successfully located this valve, it’s important to share its location with other family members in case of a plumbing emergency.
  • Turn the valve clockwise: In order to shut off the main water valve, be sure to turn the handle to the right. Turning it to the right, or clockwise, will shut the flow of cold water into your home. Appliances that use water will not work until the valve is turned counterclockwise and turned on again. Gate valves may require several rotations while ball valves only need to be turned until they’re perpendicular to the pipe.
  • Turn on all your faucets: Turning your faucets on after shutting off the main water valve opens them and allows water to drain from the system. Remember to unscrew the small screens, also known as aerators, from the ends of your faucets before turning the water back on. This helps to keep small pieces of scale or residue that may have come loose from the inside of your pipes from clogging the small holes found in these units.

Shutting off your main water supply from your home is different than shutting it off from the street water meter. You should only have to do so for one of three reasons:

  • Your main water shut-off valve inside your home fails
  • There is a leak between your home shut-off valve and the street shut-off valve
  • You’re having your home’s main water valve repaired.

Although most water companies allow access to the street shut-off valve, be sure to contact them first just in case.

Typically located in boxes with access covers, street shut-off valves and meters can be turned off in the same way that main water valves are. Although they may require tools such as a wrench to access and operate the valve, the same rule of turning it clockwise still applies.

Need some help finding or learning how to shut off your main water valve? Not a problem! Our friendly and experienced plumbers are happy to help you. Give us a call today and we’ll help you feel confident facing any plumbing emergency that comes your way. At Pipes and Plugs, our expert plumbing professionals are ready to tackle any plumbing emergency at any time of day. We’re proud to offer New Iberia and Lafayette our same-day, 24/7 emergency plumbing service, providing you with peace of mind and allowing us to get to work right away!