Ok, so you’ve decided to take on a plumbing repair and your first step is to shut off the main water supply valve. Ok, easy enough… except what is the main water valve and where do you find it??
For many plumbing repairs, it is necessary to shut off the main water supply. The main water supply valve is the shut off point between where the water comes into the house from the outside and lets the water flow to faucets, showers, hot water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers and all other appliances that use water in the house.
A main water supply valve in a house is typically either a gate valve or a ball valve. A gate valve is a fairly heavy looking, circular handle that has spoke-like metal pieces coming from the center toward the outer rim. The second type of shut-off valve is a ball valve which looks like a straight handle. There are other types of shut-off valves, but these are the two most common for residential use. Main water supply shut off valves are attached to the plumbing pipes. When the valve is shut off it stops the flow of water into the house and lets you work on your plumbing issue without getting drenched or creating a huge mess.
Look for the main water supply valve in the basement of the house. The valve is usually found on the wall that faces the street. Look near the water meter. The water meter is a box that hangs on the wall with a small window and numbers behind the window. It has a pipe entering it from the outside, which is not usually visible. It also has plumbing pipes exiting and going toward the configuration of copper pipes.
If you live in a house that does not have a basement, look for the shut off valve in the utility room. In warmer climates, many garages double as the utility room. Whatever room in the home that houses the hot water heater is generally where you will find the main water supply shut off valve. Make sure you find the main valve and not just the valve for the particular appliance the valve is located near. Shut off the main valve before you begin your project.