Locate the Source of the Water
The first thing you must do is find where the water leak is coming from. Check common areas for water leaks such as sinks, bathrooms, washing machines, water heaters, and sprinkler systems. If you cannot find the source of the water, there might be a burst pipe in your wall, floor, or ceiling. You must locate the water shut off valve to stop this type of leak.
Find your Water Shut Off Valve
You must find your main shut off valve in a hurry if you have water leaking from an unknown source. The shut off valve is in different areas of a home depending on the plumbing arrangement. Consider the following when locating the main water shut off valve:
- Does your home have a sprinkler system? If it does, your home has separate shut off valves for the main water system and the sprinkler system.
- Whether your home has a basement, crawlspace, or slab foundation determines the location of the shut off valve.
- Some water shut off valves have round handles, some have levers.
Finding the right shut off valve if your home has:
- Basement: The main shut off valve is typically by the front foundation wall or within 3-5 feet of where the water enters the house in homes with basements.
- Crawlspace and Basement: If your home has a basement and a crawlspace, the main shut off valve could be in the crawl space.
- Crawlspace with No Basement: The shut off valve is usually by the water heater or beneath the kitchen sink in homes with a crawlspace and no basement. However, the shut off valve might be in the crawlspace in these homes.
- Slab Foundation: The water shut off valve is under the kitchen sink or near the water heater in homes with no basement or crawlspace.
Shut Off the Right Valve
The following will help you locate the right water valve to shut off in an emergency:
- If your home has an indoor or outdoor main water meter and fire sprinklers, turn off the second valve above the main meter which should be downstream from the fire sprinkler system.
- If your home has an inside main water meter and no fire sprinklers, both shut off valves can cut the water to your home. If you aren’t sure if your home has a sprinkler system, shut off the second valve to be safe.
- If your home has an outside water meter and no fire sprinkler system, there is only one valve to shut off.
The main water shut off valve can have two types of handles, round wheel handles and levers. Turn round handles clockwise 1-2 revolutions to shut off the water. Give lever handles a ¼ turn, the handle should not go any farther. Once you shut off the main valve, open all faucets to relieve pressure and drain down the home. You should de-energize your water heater and boiler when down draining.
Turning on Main Water Valve
When you are ready to turn the water back on, follow these steps:
- Leave at least one faucet on the highest level of your home open to relieve pressure and close the rest.
- Turn on valves part way; ½ turn for wheel handles and half of the ¼ turn for level handles. Slowly turn off the top-level faucet once the water starts running.
- Open the main valve all the way once the water pressure equalizes. Slowly turn on each faucet in your home to bleed out the air and turn the faucet off once the air pockets stop.
- After the you have turned the water back on and bled out all the air from each faucet, turn on the power for your water heater and/ or boiler.
If you have a serious water leak in your home or building, you must quickly locate the shut off valve and turn off the water before sustaining severe damage. It is very important to know where your main shut off valve is and how to turn it off in case of an emergency. Water from leaks causes significant structural damage that requires the attention of water damage professionals. Calling for water damage restoration services immediately after shutting off the water will help limit the damage.