A Guide To Shutting Off The Water Supply in Your House

by Caitlin Schott / Mar 08, 2022
A Guide To Shutting Off The Water Supply in Your House

Do you know you can shut off the water supply to your entire home, as well as individual fixtures like your sink faucet, shower head, or icemaker, without the need for a professional plumber? Not only can you do it, but it's also important for you to know how to do it.

This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge to handle water-related emergencies around the house, like burst pipes, water leaks, and even a leaky water heater. You’ll also learn how to turn the water off to individual fixtures, including toilets, sinks, dishwashers, and more, so you can handle basic home improvement and maintenance yourself. As a homeowner or a handyman, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy this DIY project can be.

Why Would I Need To Shut Off My Water Supply?

In the blink of an eye, any water pipe, like copper pipe, pex, or CPVC, can burst due to factors like temperature changes, physical damage, excessive water pressure, and failed compression fittings due to aging. A water valve or a water supply line can fail, leading to a tidal wave of cold or hot water pouring all over your house. When plumbing emergencies happen, panic often sets in, leading many homeowners to call for professional help. This is not just about damage repair, which can run into thousands of dollars, but the fair pay the plumber will expect for what could have been easily prevented by turning a main water shutoff or a fixture turn valve in your house.

Knowing how to shut off your water supply could also be helpful in several other scenarios. For example, if you’re installing a new valve or need to handle the flow of water for a kitchen sink or bathroom sink renovation, you’ll need to cut the supply of water to the area you’re working on. If you're on vacation or away from home for an extended period, shutting off the water supply could also prevent water damage from any unforeseen leaks.

The Wrong Way To Shut Off Your Home’s Main Water Supply

Let’s start with the basics: Your municipality’s water line travels underground, then splits off to feed tap water into each individual house. As a matter of fact, there’s a sunken access box (also known as a “meter box”) in your front yard near your property line to provide your municipality easy access to your water supply.

Don't open that box; it’s for them, not you. And in most cases, it requires a meter key to access and some protection from anything that lies beneath (rodents, insects, and other pests often seek shelter there). Instead, let’s walk through how to shut off your water supply the right way: at your main water shut-off valve

The Right Way To Shut Off Your Home’s Main Water Supply

Instead of messing with the meter box, the recommended method to shut off your water supply involves a different approach. You need to find the main water shut-off valve in your house. This valve, often a ball valve in newer homes or an angle stop valve in older homes, is located near your water meter, which is typically in your garage or basement, close to where the water line from your municipality enters your home.

To shut off the water supply, turn the handle or wheel of the valve to the right until it stops. For angle stops, it will be at least a quarter turn. For ball valves, it could be three or more complete turns. This action will "close" the valve, stopping the flow of water throughout your home. Remember, if your house has a water heater, the water supply should also be shut off there.

How To Turn Off Water To Individual Fixtures

In some cases, you may not need to shut off the main water supply. Let's say you're replacing some chrome-plated fixture or handling a DIY valve replacement. In these scenarios, you need to shut off the water supply to the specific fixture only.

Each fixture has its own water valve (or two) with a handle or knob behind or beneath it. Sinks and washing machines each have two water valves; one for hot water and one for cold water. And your dishwasher’s water valve is usually underneath your kitchen sink.

Here’s a quick list to help you locate the appropriate water valve(s) for each fixture:

  • Toilets: Find the toilet shutoff valve beneath the toilet. 
  • Fridges: The valve is usually located on the wall behind the fridge.
  • Sinks: Usually, there is a separate sink shut-off valve for both hot and cold water. You can find the hot and cold water valves underneath the sink.
  • Washing machines: Locate the hot and cold water valves on the wall behind the machine.
  • Dishwashers: Find the valve underneath the sink, near the sink’s hot and cold water valves. In some older homes, the valve may be found under the washer itself.

Remember to always turn off the water supply before disconnecting any water pipes or removing any fixtures.


Protect Your Home & Protect Yourself

Prevent water damage by knowing how to shut off your main water supply and protect yourself and your family from water-related issues. As part of your home improvement effort, consider upgrading your water filters to ensure safe, clean water in your home. Both our inline fridge filter and 3-stage under-the-sink filtration system offer superior protection against common water contaminants. Plus, they can be safely installed in minutes simply by shutting off the water supply to your fridge or sink. Enjoy easy access to clean, safe water from any fridge or faucet today.

Remember, if you have any questions, you can always check out a full video on the process at home improvement stores like Home Depot or on DIY websites.

* This blog offers water supply information and is designed for educational purposes only.