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How to Turn Off the Main Water Shut-Off Valve

Last Updated: February 28, 2018


  • Step 1: Locate the Main Water Shut-off Valve
  • Step 2: Turn Off the Water to Your House
  • Step 3: Have a Plan

Would you know how to turn off the water to your house in the event of an emergency? Many people don't have a clue. Trust me, waiting until a plumbing catastrophe strikes is not the time to figure it out. At some point every homeowner (or house renter) will find themselves in a situation that requires turning off the main water supply valve to the house. It could be a broken water pipe or a toilet or sink may malfunctioning sending water cascading across your floors. Sinks and toilets have their own shut-off valves but if the valves are stuck or they fail, you’ll have to fall back and find the main water shut-off valve to turn off the water before serious damage occurs.


The first step is shutting off the main water valve is to locate it. In colder climates, you can usually find the main water shut-off valve in the basement or inside a closet in a front room of the house. Sometimes, builders will hide it behind a removable panel. In southern states, the main water shut-off valve is often located outside the house, usually along the front outside wall and often near an outside hose bib (faucet). In the small Texas town where I grew up, the main water shut-off valves were inside the meter box near the curb. If that’s the case where you live, make sure you have a meter box key so you can get into the meter vault if you have to. Some shut-off valves inside meter vaults even require a special “key” or wrench to turn them off but most can be turned off with a crescent wrench. Fortunately, most shut-off valves inside the house just require a firm grip of the hand to turn off.


Remember, turn the valve to the right to turn it off. It's simple as that.


Not only should YOU know how to turn off the main water shut-off valve, you should make sure that every member of the family knows where to locate the shut-off valve and how to use it. This includes young children who may be home alone someday when catastrophe strikes. Additionally, it’s a good idea to put the plumber’s name and phone number near the shut-off valve. Tape a business card to the wall or place a tag on the valve. You may need to reach a plumber quickly if plumbing repairs are required. There are many scenarios where this could prove helpful. For instance, let’s say you've gone on vacation and your in-laws are house sitting when the water heater rusts out and starts flooding the floor. Water damage is not the first thing you want to see when you return home. You'll want that water turned off ASAP. To help you learn how to locate and turn off your water supply valve, Roto-Rooter created a helpful video that you should watch then share with family and friends. You can thank us later.


Every once in a while a faucet will break. Don’t be alarmed, the water can be easily shut off. First, look beneath the sink for the water shut-off valves. There should be two: one to shut off the cold water and another for the hot. They're usually chrome with a small oval valve handle. Next, turn the handles clockwise until the water stops pouring out of the faucet.

Sometimes water shut-off valves freeze up from lack of use. If they won’t budge, use a pair of pliers to assist and slowly turn the knob back and forth until the rubber seat inside loosens. Don't force it all at once or it could break and cause bigger plumbing problems. If the valve spins freely and won't turn, tighten the set screw on the face and try again.

Once the valve is moving, turn off the water and call the plumbers of Roto-Rooter, who will be more than willing and able to fix this common plumbing ordeal. For plumbing service call 1-800-GET-ROTO. Don’t hesitate to call; we are available 24 hours, 7days a week.



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