During plumbing emergencies, such as a burst pipe or another plumbing problem, it is important to know where your main water shut-off valve is located and how to shut it off.

Where to Look

Start the search by looking in the basement or in a crawlspace. This is the most common place to find the main water shutoff valve. It is typically located in the front of your home near an outside wall within a few feet of where the main water line enters the home and wherever your water meter is located.

If your home was constructed on a slab and has no basement, the main water shut-off valve could be found near your hot water heater or inside of your garage.

In addition, each individual fixture including your sinks, toilets, and washing machine have individual Isolation valves designed to allow you to turn off a specific section of your system without affecting other water-using fixtures or appliances in your home. The next time you operate your toilet, washing machine, or sink, observe the isolation valve, connected to the pipes entering your fixture.

What It Looks Like

The water main shut-off valve will look like a slightly large pipe with some sort of wheel gate or ball lever handle stuck in the middle of it.

When to Shut off the Water

A faulty water heater or a loose connection to an appliance such as a dishwasher, washing machine, or refrigerator can create severe water damage in your home. If you encounter a water leak in your kitchen or laundry room, the easiest way to avoid extensive water damage is to turn off the main water shut-off valve to stop the circulation of water in your home.

If your pipes freeze, DO NOT turn off your water. In fact, you should turn both hot and cold lines on to drip water as you begin to thaw your pipes. On the other hand, if your pipes burst, then YOU SHOULD turn off the main water valve immediately and call your plumber.

For your washing machine and sinks, there will be separate hot and cold-water supply lines with separate shut-off valves for each, while your toilet only has one cold water shut-off valve. If you have an isolated overflow problem with just one of your fixtures, simply shut off the isolation valve to contain the situation.

When you go on vacation, it is a good idea to turn off your water heater, as well as the main water supply.

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