Emergency Water Shut Off and the 80/20 Rule [Video]

By Mengning Heil

September 24, 2021

Plumbing Tips

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s every homeowner’s nightmare – a pipe burst and started flooding your house. Amidst the watery chaos, you scramble to stop the deluge from ruining your floors, ceiling, and dining room table. Sometimes the source of the leak is unknown, the closest emergency water shut off is a mystery, or you just need to act fast. In those moments, it’s super helpful to know ahead of time where your emergency water shut off is to minimize damage and buy time to call a plumber.

Watch this short video or keep reading to learn more!

Where Is the Water Shut Off Valve?

The location of the emergency water shut off is a little different in every house. So, where is the water shut off valve? 80% of the time it’s in the front wall of the house – usually in the basement.

If you have an unfinished basement the shut off valve should be pretty easy to locate. Look around to see if you can find a pipe coming from the wall with a valve and handle. If you have a finished basement, your shut off valve might be in a less conspicuous spot so you’ll want to look for something that looks like an access panel. Scan the room for something like a bump-out with a little handle and a door. If you cannot find the emergency water shut off inside your home, do not fret. Sometimes you need to look outside in order to discover how to turn off your home’s water.

There are two other main places to search for the water shut off valve. It may be located outside your house on an exterior wall, which is more common in areas with warmer climates. A good place to start looking would be near an outdoor faucet. If you still have not located the emergency shut off valve, it may actually be near the street. If this is the case, there will be a water meter below an access panel that is buried in the ground. Some access panels require a meter key in order to remove the cover.

Once you have the cover removed you may find that there are two valves. The one for the homeowner will be located on the side of the water meter closest to the house. The second valve will be located on the side of the water meter closest to the street. Note that the valve located on the street-side of the water meter might be for the city (even if that is the only valve you see). It is recommended that you contact your water utility company before turning the street-side valve because it may not be permitted for homeowners to use.

How Do I Turn off the Water to My House?

emergency water shut off

Once you have located where your shut off valve is, simply turn the handle until the water stops. Some emergency water shut off valves are circular and you only need to twist them to turn off the water – remember- righty tighty, lefty loosey! You may ask, “But, what if I don’t have a circular valve? How do I turn off the water to my house?” Some homes have a ball valve with a lever handle instead of a circular valve – when the handle is lined up with the pipe the water is on, when it’s perpendicular the water is off. Now that the water is shut off, it’s time to call a plumber for help!

Whether a busted pipe is threatening to damage your entire home, you want to take extra precautions to protect your home when going away on a long vacation, or you simply have a home project that will require you to shut off the water- it’s always a good idea to know where your emergency water shut off valve is.

Do you need leak detection in Baltimore County or the surrounding areas? Connect with an expert plumber in Jessup, MD today.

Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including sewer line repair, leak detection and pipe repair, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, and water heater repair in Baltimore County and the surrounding areas.