How to Shut Off Pipes to Repair Plumbing

Attempting to repair a pipe filled with water under pressure could leave any homeowner or plumber soaked if he skips one simple step: shutting off the water supply.

Utility providers sometimes place water meters in a front yard.Utility providers sometimes place water meters in a front yard.
Although many homes feature in-line shut-off valves, some structures require water shut-off to occur at the main water valve. Anyone can turn off pipes to repair plumbing and, in case of emergencies, everyone should know how.

Locate your home's water meter. A main-shut off accompanies a home's water meter-find one and you'll find the other. A water meter mounts on top of a valve that looks like a fat disk or bell. The meter features a dial marked that measures from 0 to 10 gallons with a needle. At the center of the dial is a meter that looks like a car's odometer.

Search for the water meter according to your area's characteristics. Climate and local conventions dictate the location of a water meter. In warm climates they can be found near curbs, in a rectangular or round boxes in the front yard or against one of the building's side walls. In cold climates, check basements and hall closets in addition to outdoor locations. Walk the perimeter of your home, the perimeter of your property and, finally, the basement and interior of your home.

At the water meter, locate the "house-side" shut-off valve. Meters feature a shut-off valve on both sides-the shut-off located before the meter belongs to the utility provider and the shut-off located after the meter belongs to the home owner. The shut-off valve after the meter is the "house-side" valve. Utility providers can charge hefty fees to repair damaged "supply-side" valves and recommend that homeowners only shut off the "house-side" valve for repairs. If unsure of which side is the house side, search for blue arrows that indicate the flow of water.

Turn the "house-side" valve to the closed position. If the valve is a conventional, bibb-style valve, turn the valve clockwise to tighten and close it. Wrap a rag around the valve to improve your grip. The alternate type of valve, a quarter-turn valve, features a straight handle. In the "on" or open position, a quarter turn valve's handle sits parallel to the water supply pipes. In the "off" or closed position, a quarter turn valve's handle runs perpendicular to the water supply pipes. Turn the quarter-turn valve to the "off" position.

Turn on a sink or open a hose faucet to check whether or the water is shut off.

Things You Will Need

  • Rag

About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.