How to Find a Water Shut-off Valve Outside

Water service shut off valve cover in concrete

When you have a plumbing problem, seconds matter. So, it’s crucial to know where your water shut-off valve is in case of an emergency. In many cases, it’ll be outside.

We'll explain how to find a water shut-off valve outside, tell you how to activate it, and answer some frequently asked questions about these valves:

  • Finding the Water Shut-off Valve
  • How to Shut Off the Water Valve
  • Why You May Need to Shut Off the Water Valve

Finding the Water Shut-off Valve

You’ve likely seen shut-off valves near your appliances and plumbing fixtures. You may have even used these valves to perform minor plumbing jobs around the house. But you probably don't deal with your whole home shut-off valve very often.

Here's how to find your outdoor water shut-off valve if you get your water from a municipal source:

  1. Look for a rectangular or round cover near the edge of your property, often between the curb and the sidewalk. Some water main valves are located in an alley rather than on the street. The cover may be metal or plastic with a "water meter" inscribed on it.
  2. Open the cover to the meter to find the water shut-off valve.

Private well valves are usually located near your pressure tank.

In both cases, you can usually find an additional shut-off valve in the home's utility area, where the water line enters the house. Some homes with municipally provided water will have a shut-off valve on an exterior wall next to the water meter.

If you've followed these tips and can't find your water shut-off valve outside, you can check your property inspection report. The valve's location should be in the plumbing section of the report.

Still can't find the water shut-off valve inside or outside your home? Contact your local Mr. Rooter® Plumbing for help.

How to Shut Off the Water Valve

Now that you've found the valve, you must shut off the water. Doing so usually requires a few different tools:

  • A socket wrench: Some shut-off valves have a cover with a security bolt. Use a socket wrench to remove this bolt. Sometimes, you may need to call the municipal water supply provider to unlock the cover.
  • A screwdriver: Certain covers can be pried off using a screwdriver.
  • Water meter key/channel locks: To adjust the valve itself, you may need a water meter key. If you don't have one, use channel locks.

After removing the cover, look inside the compartment for the water supply shut-off valve. This is the valve located closest to your house. To turn it off, twist the valve clockwise using the water meter key or pliers.

Why Do You Need to Shut off the Main Water Valve?

When your water line breaks, water keeps flowing to the broken area. This is what causes massive water damage when a major line breaks. You don't want that water soaking into your carpet and walls, and you definitely don't want the associated repair bill.

A water shut-off valve allows you to stop the water flow at the source, minimizing water damage to your home. Unlike the smaller shut-off valves you find near appliances and toilets, this valve cuts the water flow to your plumbing system. It's a crucial failsafe when pipes burst.

In a panic-stricken state with water flowing around you, it's difficult to stop and take the time to find the water shut-off valve. Identifying it now will give you peace of mind and a swift action plan if the worst happens.

Seek Professional Plumbing Help from Your Local Mr. Rooter

If you have to shut off the water to your home, you likely have a serious problem. It's crucial to identify the cause of the leak and repair the issue before you turn the water back on. Mr. Rooter Plumbing's helpful experts can fix your problem fast. Call us for emergency plumbing services or to schedule an estimate.