How To Find Your Home’s Outside Water Shut Off Valve

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 1, 2024

You don’t know it’s happened until it’s too late. By the time you see water pooling out from under a baseboard or raining down from the ceiling, a plumbing disaster is already soaking your home. You have to act right away.

It only takes a few minutes to stop the flood and minimize damage to your property. Do you know how to find the water shut off valve outside your house?

It’s one of those things that homeowners don’t think about until they’re facing it for the first time. We’re always here to back you up with emergency water removal services, but we want you to be prepared to take immediate action.

50 Gallons a Minute

Water damage from leaky plumbing or ruptured pipes can go from bad to worse very quickly. That’s because the pressure that keeps faucets and dishwashers running doesn’t shut down when there’s a break in the line. A half-inch water pipe typically carries a flow load of 50 gallons per minute.

That’s enough water to handle a full cycle of dirty clothes in the washing machine. Imagine that volume flooding your home every 60 seconds. When you’re suddenly dealing with a burst pipe or plumbing failure, you don’t have time to wonder, “Where is my water shut off valve?”

Turning Off the Main Water Line: 3 Easy Steps

Once you know how to find the water shut off valve outside, turning off the flow is usually simple. Still, understanding these three steps ahead of time makes the job easier.

1. Locate the Valve Housing – The water meter and two main water cut off valves are usually located in a recessed concrete box in your front yard between the sidewalk and curb. A heavy lid covers and protects the housing.

2. Identify Your Shut Off Valve – When you remove the lid, you’ll see two valves on either side of the water meter. The street-side valve is designed for city-use only. Your valve is located on the house-side of the meter.

3. Test the Valve’s Operation – Most shut off valves feature a round, knurled handle that’s easy to access. Simply turn it clockwise to cut off the water supply flowing to your home.

Power Tip: If you have trouble reaching the valve or it sticks when you try to turn it, arm yourself with a good water main shut off tool.

Other Water Shut Off Valve Types

Most homeowners find their shut off valves for kitchen and bathroom sinks in the cabinets under those fixtures. Other types of valves aren’t hiding, but they’re not always easy to find. Here’s a quick overview.

• Dishwashers – These shut off valves are usually located on the sink’s hot water supply line.

• Bathtubs and Showers – Find tub and shower valves under the bathroom sink or in the basement between floor joists.

• Toilets – Look under the tank for the toilet shut off valve’s oval handle attached to a ribbed water line.

• Hot Water Heaters – Water heater valves are located on the cold water line a few inches above the tank.

• Laundry Rooms – Look above or behind the washing machine, and check these valves often for signs of wear.

Heading Off Trouble: 4 Quick Tricks

When it comes to protecting your home from a water disaster, an ounce of prevention can head off thousands of gallons of damage. Use these four quick tricks to stay on top off potential trouble.

1. Routinely check outside and inside shut off valves for signs of wear or leaks.

2. If you notice your main water shut off valve leaking, contact a plumbing professional right away.

3. Tag your home’s outside shut off valve to avoid confusion with the city’s valve.

4. Make sure everyone in the family knows where all shut off valves are located and how to use them.

Keep in mind that shutting off the water main valve outside your home stops the flow but it doesn’t stop the damage. Put a restoration company on your contact list so that you always have backup in case of a water emergency. An established restoration contractor helps you navigate the insurance claims process too.

Count on Our Team 24/7

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We really enjoy sharing information that helps you handle the unexpected. If you’ve recently dealt with water damage at the house, tell us about it through our Comments Section. You’re always invited to join our online community and be a part of the conversation.

When you need emergency water removal services, call us first. We’re proud of our reputation as the best water damage cleanup company in Chicago and the suburbs, and we earn it every day. You can count on our teams here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba 24/7.