How to turn off the water supply to sinks, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures in your home
When a home’s water supply system leaks or a repair to one of the plumbing fixtures is needed, you’ll have to shut off the water. It’s best to do this at the valve that’s closest to the problem. That way, the rest of the house will still have a functioning water supply.
Most water-using fixtures and appliances have some type of shut-off valve that allows you to stop the water supply at the fixture without shutting off the water to the entire house.
To shut off a faucet, toilet, or similar fixture, first look for a stop valve that’s connected to the water supply tubes, located directly under the fixture. This is normally a chrome-plated or plastic valve. Beneath a sink, one serves hot water and one serves cold.
Turn the handle clockwise to shut off a valve. If it is too difficult to turn by hand, try wearing a work glove or gripping the handle with a pair of slip-joint pliers.
To shut off a water heater, turn off the cold water valve above the water heater.
To shut off the water supply to a washing machine, just turn off the valve behind the machine. Some washers have simple lever-style valves like the one shown here.
If you don’t find a shutoff valve near a fixture, you can shut off the valve that controls the flow of water to the entire house, normally located near where the cold water pipe enters (the valve will be outside in warm climates, inside in cold climates). In some cases, the valve is located on a pipe right before the water heater and may have a red handle. To turn it off, rotate the handle clockwise.
To turn off the water to your house and the rest of your property (including outdoor sprinkler systems, hose bibbs, and so forth), look for the main valve just to the house side of your water meter. This is normally out by the street, often in a concrete box just below ground level.
Once you locate the valve handle, turn it clockwise until it stops. If it is frozen in position, put a few drops of lubricating oil around the valve stem and wear a work glove to turn the handle or, if necessary, turn it with the help of a pipe wrench.
This valve should always be completely open or completely closed—never to control the amount of flow into the house.
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