How to Turn Off Your Water Supply to Your House
Chances are you'll likely have to turn off your home's water supply at some point. You may have to do this because you're planning a long trip or you've scheduled a plumbing repair. Then there are emergencies like a flooded bathroom, leaking water heater, broken toilet water supply, or a pipe burst, where you'll have limited time to react.
So it makes sense to learn how to turn off your water supply to your house or at specific spots for simplified regular maintenance and to cut expenses in a worst-case scenario.
Since water supply valves aren't in any specific location in the house, you'll take more time to find them - the time you won't have if your ceiling is rapidly leaking water.
This detailed guide shares tips on cutting water supply to the entire building or specific appliances and fixtures. Gain insights into the basics of both to help you in any plumbing predicament that may come up.
Things You'll Need to Turn Off the Water Supply
You can easily turn off most water supply appliances in your home by hand. However, you'll need tools to complete specific tasks that are a little more difficult. Generally, you'll need the following tools when turning off your water supply:
- Adjustable wrench
- Slip joint pliers
- Curb stop key
Besides the above tools, you also need to locate the following valves:
Local Shutoff Valves
Each plumbing fixture likely has its own shutoff valve. For example, the toilet shutoff valve should be nearby, the dishwasher and kitchen sink should each have their own under the counter or in the cabinet, and your home's boiler should also have one close by. When you know the shutoff valves exact locations, it's easy to regulate water supply in specific areas.
Main Shutoff Valve
Plumbing issues are predominantly not localised. After a pipe burst, panic quickly follows, and you may not have the time to look for the specific shutoff valve. In this case, the best way to restrict the water supply is to find the main exterior shutoff, usually located on the outside wall, the basement, or the utility room. Unlike the other shutoff valves, this one comes with both open and closed positions, but you'll turn the gate valves several times to close it entirely.
Water Meter Shut Off
You can use your home's main water shut off to turn off supply if your burst or leaking pipe is inside the house. Just like the primary and local shutoff valves, you'll also find one on your water meter box. Depending on your utility company specifications, the meter might be in an underground box between the pavement and your house or a basement.
The shutoff valve has an arrow to indicate the water flow direction. You may turn the handle by hand or use a water meter key, screwdriver, or wrench. Still, avoid applying unnecessary force. Reach out to your utility company if it can't turn to avoid responsibility for any water meter damage.
How to Turn Off Water Main Supply At Street Level
A pipe leak can flood everywhere in and outside, causing costly damage to your home and the environment around it. If you know how to turn off your water supply at the street level, you should be able to quickly fix this.
First, check your property boundary for an eight-inch plastic or iron cover. These covers typically have the WM or W marks, indicating that these are main water covers. Lift the lid with a screwdriver, then remove the frost pad. Inside, you'll find a stop tap that you'll turn clockwise to cut off the water supply and anticlockwise to turn it on.
Remember to carry out all plumbing adjustments while the main supply is off. The pipes in your home will still have water, so run the lines you intend to drain till they're dry and the water stops.
Most companies have access to the street shut off valve for a good reason. The following are the main circumstances in which you're allowed to turn off the street-level water supply:
- There's a drainage emergency in your house, yet your shut off has failed.
- The pipe between your property shut off valve and the street shut off is leaking.
- You want to replace the main shut off valve on your property.
How to Turn Off Your Water Meter
Knowing where your home's water meter is can help you overcome a water emergency. Generally, you'll find it below the kitchen sink, right where the water supply enters your house. It may also be in an underground section in your backyard or garden.
If your home is more modern, the water meter may be on the outside wall of your house. But if you reside in a flat, you'll find yours outside your apartment or in a shared metering cupboard.
Fortunately, you've likely located it. The right tools for this job include a screwdriver, curb stop key, and crescent wrench. Once you have everything ready, you'll follow these steps to cut the supply off from the water meter:
- Remove the meter box lid using the screwdriver.
- Find the oblong knob or angle stop, the main shut off valve, usually located on the meter's street side.
- The oblong knob has two loops side by side and an arrow at the centre indicating the flow direction.
- Place the angle stops key over the centre to cut off the water supply.
- Turn the improvised tee handle or curb stop key clockwise until the loops are together. This turn should be about 180 degrees.
If you haven't used the oblong knob for some time, it could lock itself. Whatever you do, never force it. It should turn when you apply moderate pressure. But if it doesn't, be sure to contact your water utility company.
How to Turn Off Your Water At the Main Shutoff Valve
If the weather is severely cold, water inside pipes can freeze, causing them to expand and burst. When this happens, you'll have to learn how to turn off the water main shutoff valve as fast as possible to prevent additional damages.
The valve may either be in the basement, near the wall or close to the street. You can also find it within your garage or near the boiler. But don't confuse it with boiler valves.
After locating the valve, you'll turn the lever clockwise to disconnect the water. A quarter-turn is enough to close it, and it should line perpendicularly with the pipe. Turn the handle clockwise if it's round or ball-shaped.
You'll then open any tap on your home's lowest floor to relieve additional pressure within your home's central heating system.
Can't find the main shut off valve? Go for the main water meter valve within a ground box adjacent to the nearest street, then turn it off.
You can also follow your home's main water pipe to locate the valve then close the meter using your hand. But if it can't turn, an adjustable pipe wrench will be helpful.
This valve has a lever handle. Grab it and turn clockwise till it's perpendicular to the water pipe. If the handle is round, turn clockwise until it's tight.
How to Turn the Water Off At the Boiler
If you find your boiler leaking all over your house, the next move should be to shut off your water supply to this appliance to minimise water damage.
The first step is to look for the shutoff valve that controls the incoming cold water into the boiler. On top of the boiler, you'll find the lever valve, also known as the ball valve. Give it a quarter turn to make it lie perpendicular to the pipe.
Once the valve is in this position, you'll go for the temperature and pressure relief valve, located at the top section of your boiler. Open it to release the pressure off the boiler, and this will stop the leak.
How to Turn the Water Off At a Fixture or Appliance
Suppose you're experiencing minor water supply issues like a running toilet or dripping tap. In that case, it will help to shut off the respective valves individually and allow the other fixtures to continue working. Most plumbing fixtures have their own shutoff valves, and each takes a different position and appearance. So ensure you locate each of them carefully.
- Sink Taps - Leaky sink taps are prevalent in many homes; hence most people are curious about how to turn off the water supply to bathroom taps. To do this, find the taps stop valve located right below the sink, then turn clockwise. If you have both the hot and cold water taps, each will have its shut off valve. The one for cold water is situated on the right. Turn off both of them if you're fixing a single-handle tap.
- Toilet - If you're wondering how to turn off the water to the toilet water supply, it is as simple as turning the valve clockwise. It may be too hard to use your hands, but slip-joint pliers will offer a steady grip. Notably, toilets have only one shut off valve situated near the toilet tanks bottom-left side.
- Shower or Tubs - Not every shower system has a shutoff valve. The valve is usually behind the access panel. But if you can't find one, check whether it's safely tucked in the ceiling or under the floor.
How to turn off the water supply to bathroom taps
You should know how to turn off the hot water supply to bathroom taps quickly before a flood problem comes up. When experiencing a drainage issue in bathroom appliances, you'll turn off the flow in the following three areas:
Shut off valves below the sink
- Look for the cold and hot water to turn off valves.
- Hold them with your hands, then turn clockwise till they can't move. Don't over tighten them.
- Run the water through the taps till it stops.
Main water shut off in the basement
- Find the main water supply, usually situated near a boiler if this is in your basement.
- Find a valve with a black or blue handle, then give it a quarter-turn till it's horizontal. Then, turn the knob valve counterclockwise till it tightens.
- Drain the line of water.
Outside main water shut off
- Find the metal cover at the street edge, then remove the lid to open the in-ground box.
- Use a large adjustable wrench to make a quarter turn and rotate the knob turnoff anticlockwise.
- Open taps to drain the lines.
Notably, label the shutoff valve to make it easier to find. Also, avoid applying excessive force when handling plumbing fixtures to prevent problems that will require repair.
How to turn off the toilet water supply
A faulty toilet can be disastrous for your home. The most common issue is a broken fill valve, which causes the cistern to fill up and overflow; hence it's crucial to learn how to turn off the water to the toilet. In this case, you must look for the closest isolation valve. But if you can't find one, try the following steps:
Coldwater storage cistern
Locate the cold tank's gate valve and close it. Doing this could limit the cold water supply in your bathroom appliances.
Use the mains stop tap to restrict water flow to the entire house, then run the bathroom cold and hot taps until they dry. Only turn on the water after you've fixed the issue.
How to turn off the water supply to the boiler
There are different boiler types, and the approach you use to turn off the supply will depend on whether you use indirect or direct feed. If yours is a combi boiler with a direct water supply, you'll shut it off by closing the main stop valve.
But if you use a hot water cylinder, it uses an indirect supply, and you'll find a valve on the pipe entering the hot water cylinder from the water storage cistern. Turn it off once you find it.
Notably, restricting the water supply cannot affect your hot water boiler operation. When you're not around, a hydronic heating pipe burst might not be as severe as that of a typical domestic water pipe.
Furthermore, it's a safe practice to turn off your water supply entirely before you leave the house. Doing this won't stop the water already flowing in the pipes, but you'll substantially reduce the risk of flooding.
How to turn off the water supply to the radiator
Central heating radiators use water to heat the house. But if you want to perform maintenance or cool it down, you must cut the water supply from them. This process is as simple as turning your radiator valves off.
First, find the thermostatic valve located on the left of the radiator. This valve is mainly at the lower section. But if it isn't near the bottom part, you'll find it at the top left section of the radiator. Confirm that it's indeed a thermostatic valve by checking out if it has a dial with numbers on it.
After ascertaining that it's a thermostatic valve, you'll turn it clockwise until the dial hits the zero mark. Keep twisting the valve until it doesn't go any further, and the arrow points to zero.
You'll then locate the second valve towards the right. Just like the previous one, this is also at the lower section. There should be a plastic cap at the top of this valve.
Twist it clockwise till you can't anymore. After closing down both valves, you'll have to cut the water supply to the valve, allowing it to cool down.
How to turn off the water supply to central heating
You must stop your central heating system from refilling to drain it down, and you can do this in different ways, depending on your system type.
If you're using a vented system, the feed and expansion cistern tops up the water level, so you must temporarily halt the supply to drain it down. Either tie up the float valve or close off the filter's incoming pipe valve.
Water comes in through the filling loop for a sealed system, which remains closed until the system requires refiling. Keep it this way until you need to top it up.
Generally, the tank's pressure corresponds with the water pressure. So if there's no incoming water pressure, there'll be no outlet for water pressure. So shutting down the water supply shouldn't cause catastrophic damage or failure to your system.
How to turn off the water supply to the kitchen sink
You must turn off the water supply before any kitchen appliance replacement or repair job. You can cut the flow in different ways depending on the plumbing issue at hand and the extent of the damage. Let's explore:
Through the sink shut off valve
First, turn the taps on your kitchen sinks shut off valve to the off position. Inside the cabinet under the sink, you'll see a large PVC pipe with a vertical bend entering the back wall horizontally.
You'll also find two other pipes (for warm and cold water) made of flexible lines or metal and running from the taps tailpieces to the wall. Each of them has a round lever or a football-shaped knob. If it's a lever, you'll turn off the water supply by making it lie perpendicular to the pope. Do so for both the hot and cold water lines, then open the tap to release the remaining water in the pipes.
Turning the water off elsewhere
If the plumbing issue is beyond your kitchen sink or you can't find the shutoff valves, you may have to disconnect water at any entry point, water main, or heater in other areas, such as the bathroom.
Begin with the boiler, which has a warm pipe leading out and another bypassing the heater. These are the hot and cold water pipes of the entire home, so find their shut off valves and turn them off.
Using the main shut off valve
Sometimes the kitchen shut off valve fails to turn off the water completely. In this case, you'll proceed to the main shut off valve serving the entire house. You'll find this at the point where the city's main water line links with the house piping system or at the meter.
After turning off the water to the house, open the lowest tap and the highest one to release pressure. Once done, you'll turn it back on by opening each lever or valve you closed back.
How to Turn Off Your Water Supply Quick and Easy
So you suspect that your home has a drainage problem? You may have some signs of water pooling in the backyard, an exceptionally high water bill, or water spurting from below the kitchen sink. Furthermore, you could be having a burst water pipe situation.
Before you reach out to your plumber, the most appropriate step to take is to shut off your water supply. The above insights will help you identify the location of respective valves in your home and how to turn off your water supply to minimise extra water damage.
Notably, your best shot at minimising water damage to your house begins with adequate prevention, and there's no better approach to this than to acquire the highest quality appliances for the different parts of your home.
As the UK's leading heating and plumbing supplier, PlumbNation can help you with various top-shelf products that will reduce the risk of water damage.