Is the Water Off?

Mechanical room in my house. The water meter and water valve is to the right of the furnace. Every mechanical room looks different, but the water meter is in the mechanical room at least 90% of the time. If not, we would have to look around the house to find it.

Gate valves look like this. Turn right to turn off the water to your home.

Hello, Rimrock Plumbing,” I said.

Yikes! Our basement has a foot of water in it and I don’t know why!” said someone over the phone.

Shut off the water to your house and we’ll be over right away,” I said, as we wrapped up another job.

But I don’t know HOW to shut off the water to my house!” said the person who was freaking out.

Everybody should know how to shut off the water to their house. This will be important for you in these types of situations:

  • If you have a water emergency, such as a lot of water spraying or water leaking through the drywall and you don’t know where it’s coming from – shut off the water to your house, then call me.
  • Or to prevent a water emergency, turn off the water to your house before you leave home. You should definitely do this before you go on a vacation for more than a weekend, or leave your home for the winter to enjoy the Arizona sunshine next winter. (I’l have a whole blog about shutting down your house for the winter.)
  • In the summer, keep in mind that shutting off the water to your house will probably shut off your sprinkler system as well. However, it’s usually possible to keep on your sprinkler system and we can show you how. Give Rimrock Plumbing a call.

First, do you know where the water valve is? It is just below your water meter. So where is your water meter? Your water meter is usually in your mechanical room, near your water heater and furnace. (See photos below.)

If your valve is a ball valve it is on a pipe and it has a lever. (Ours is yellow in the photo.)

  • If the lever is parallel to the pipe, going in the same direction, then the water is turned on.
  • When the lever is perpendicular to the pipe, a quarter-turn (90 degrees) from the pipe, then the water is turned off.

If your valve is a gate valve, it has a round knob

  • To turn on the water with a gate valve, the knob has to be turned counter-clockwise multiple times.
  • To turn off the water with gate valve, turn the knob clockwise to turn the water off.

If it’s a gate valve, it’s an older type of valve, usually in an older home. In most newer homes, they use ball valves, because they work better. (More on that later.)

If you are doing this before going out of town, you need to turn on a faucet, both hot and cold, on the upper-most level of your house. Then, go to the lowest level of your house, and turn on another faucet, both hot and cold. This will de-pressurize your water system and most of water in your pipes will drain. Water will drain out for a few minutes. Just leave the faucets open the whole time you are gone.

Just remember that those faucets were turned on when you turn your water system back on. There will be air in the lines, so the water will sputter and spurt when you turn on the faucets again. We usually turn all the faucets on one at a time starting at the top floor.

P.S. You’ll get one more flush from each toilet after your water is turned off! (My wife asks me this question every time.)

And, of course, if you need help doing this sometime, you can call us at Rimrock Plumbing.

– Bill Manske, Owner and Master Plumber

(406) 855-7131