Where is Your Water Main Shut Off Valve?

Ball valve

Ball valve

Because I offer 24-hour emergency plumbing service, I am the one customers call when there is an emergency flood situation. When a water pipe bursts and water is gushing out at top speed, the question I always ask is, “Did you shut off the main water valve?”

People don’t react the same in situations where they are panicking. It can be hard to think straight in the midst of a crisis. So, we always urge all of our customers to know where the water main is and how to shut it off before a potential flood situation.

What you’re seeking

The main water shut off is almost always a ball valve. It had a knife type handle. When the water is on, the handle runs parallel to the pipe. To shut the valve off, it should be turned to the right until it’s perpendicular to the pipe.

If your valve is a gate valve, turn the handle to the right until it stops.

Gate valve.

Gate valve.

At the meter or utility box

If you know where your water meter is, the main valve may be just past it if you follow the pipe. It might be in a utility box down at the street. Some homes have them on the side of the house. But, it’s an excellent place to start. DO not confuse your home utility box with the city utility box. You have to leave theirs alone.

At the front yard faucet

Some homes have their water main shut off at the spigot in front of their house. If you checked the meter and it isn’t there, look for the valve just beneath the outdoor faucet. It is a little surprising to a homeowner who never deliberately looked for their shut off to see it there when they finally search for it.

Test the valve

Once you locate the shut-off valve, try it. Shut the water off and then turn on a faucet. It will take a bit for the water to stop flowing, but once it does, make sure it stops. If it continues to trickle, the valve has become corroded or worn out and needs to be replaced. It may very well be that the nut or screw on the valve handle needs a bit of tightening. If that’s the case, remind us and we will do it for you when we come out on another call. We don’t recommend a homeowner does this themselves, especially in an older home. The homeowner who knows what they’re doing should be just fine, but the homeowner who doesn’t can break the packing nut and the whole valve will have to be replaced.

To turn the water back on, have a faucet turned on and slowly turn the valve back on, giving the air in the lines time to work its way out.

Final thoughts

Every man, woman, and child in the home should know where the water main shut off valve is in the event of an emergency. Remind the kids that it isn’t anything to fool with, but it’s one of those things that you’ll be glad they know if it ever becomes necessary for them to use it.

If you can’t find the water shut off valve, ask a neighbor, since a lot of homes in a neighborhood are built in the same way.

If you need an honest, dependable plumber in the Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe or Chandler area, call Jimmy at 480-757-1273.