Finding and Operating Your Main Water Shutoff Valve
Think fast—do you know where your water main is? If you can’t answer this question immediately, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with its location.
When pipes burst or something from your own water supply is sending water flooding into your home or basement, the first thing you need to do is stop the flow, and the main shutoff valve is the best place to do it.
Finding Your Shutoff Valve
If you get your water supply from a municipal water supply, your main shutoff valve is probably right inside your home, on the side of the house that faces the street. This is the first place water comes in from the supply source, and your home will have a straight-line pipe bringing the water in from the street.
There may also be an additional valve called a curb valve, located at the spot where your property meets the sidewalk or street. If you can’t locate your main shutoff valve inside, there’s bound to be one here.
Look for a trap-door-style box or manhole. (You may need a special tool or even special permission to shut your water off from here. Call your water company if you’re not sure.)
Can’t Find It?
If you’re looking inside, look to the area right inside the perimeter of the home, where water service would first enter. Look high if you’re in a basement, and low if you’re above ground level.
If you can find your exterior valve at the street, walk straight toward your house from there—it’s likely that’s exactly where the water line is headed.
If you still can’t find it, check the inspection report you received when you purchased your home. There should be a section regarding plumbing, which should tell you where your main shutoff valve is and may even include a photo.
Turning Your Water Main Off
Your shutoff valve could be one of several types, but most can be figured out quickly.
A ball valve will probably look like a handle to you. When the handle is turned 90 degrees, it either opens or closes the flow of water using a rotary ball inside the pipe.
A gate valve uses a round handle that resembles a fire sprinkler head—turning this handle opens and closes a gate within the pipe that will stop the flow.
The street side valve, as stated, may require a special tool such as a water meter key, and may be difficult to open. Again, it may not be OK for you to close the valve without permission, so contact your water company before attempting it.
Water leaks can dump hundreds of gallons of water into your house, creating a major catastrophe. But you’ve got a friend in the industry ready 24 hours a day—contact SERVPRO to get recovery started right away.