Every homeowner should be familiar with the location of their water main shut-off valve. It’s a crucial piece of knowledge that can prevent extensive water damage in emergencies. Whether you’re facing a burst pipe, planning some DIY plumbing, or going on a long vacation, knowing how to turn off your water main can be a lifesaver. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps and situations that warrant shutting off your main water supply.

Cartoon of a man in a basement preparing to shut off the water main

1. Locating Your Water Main Shut-Off Valve

Before you can turn off the water, you need to know where the shut-off valve is located. Typically, you’ll find it:

  • Inside the House: Often in the basement, crawl space, or near the water heater. It might also be in a utility room or garage.
  • Outside the House: If you don’t find it indoors, look for a covered box (usually rectangular) close to the street or at the front of your property.

2. Tools You Might Need

  • Adjustable Wrench: Some valves might be tough to turn by hand, especially if they haven’t been used in a while.
  • Flashlight: Useful if the valve is located in a dimly lit area.

3. Turning Off the Water Main

  • Ball Valve: If your home has copper or plastic main water pipes, you’ll likely have a ball valve. Turn the valve handle so it’s perpendicular to the pipe to shut it off.
  • Gate Valve: If you have an older home with iron pipes, you might have a gate valve. Turn the valve handle clockwise (right) until you can’t turn it anymore.

4. Testing to Ensure the Water is Off

After turning off the main, test to make sure the water supply is indeed off:

  • Turn On a Faucet: Go to a sink inside your home and turn on the faucet. The water should drain out and then stop flowing completely.
  • Check the Meter: If you have access to your water meter, it should not be showing any movement.

5. When Should You Turn Off Your Water Main?

  • Plumbing Emergencies: If you have a burst pipe or major leak, turn off the water main immediately to prevent damage.
  • Extended Vacations: If you’re away for a long time, turning off the water can prevent potential leaks from causing damage while you’re gone.
  • Home Renovations: If you’re doing any DIY plumbing or major home renovations, it’s a good idea to shut off the water to prevent accidents.
  • Frozen Pipes: If you suspect your pipes have frozen in winter, shut off the water main to prevent potential bursts.

6. Turning the Water Back On

When you’re ready to restore the water supply:

  • Open a Faucet: Before turning the main valve back on, open a faucet to allow air to escape.
  • Turn On the Main: Slowly turn the valve to its original position.
  • Check for Leaks: Once the water is back on, inspect the area around the valve and your home for any signs of leaks.



Knowing how to turn off your water main is an essential skill for every homeowner. It can prevent extensive damage and save on potential repair costs. While the process is straightforward, always approach it with caution. And remember, if you’re ever unsure or face plumbing issues beyond your expertise, professionals like CID Plumbing are just a call away, ready to assist and ensure your home’s plumbing is in top shape.

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