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Disaster Strikes, Water Everywhere! Do you know where your main Water Shut-Off Valve is Located?

You just got the keys to your new home. You are moving in and your husband has just finished setting up the washer and dryer. After 3 days of moving in, you are exhausted and decide to go get some lunch right after you throw a load of laundry in the washer. When you return, you find that water is pouring out of the wall from behind your washer and water is going everywhere! YIKES!! The first question you will ask yourself is, do you know where the main water shut-off valve is in your home? If you are like many new homeowners, you never think to ask this important question and most likely, your response will be I HAVE NO IDEA! Furthermore, it takes a special tool to turn it off, do you have one of those? If you are unsure about where your shut-off valve is, you need to find it and understand fully how to use it and the tool needed to turn it off. If you ever find yourself in a water emergency like a serious leak, this information can save you from a plumbing nightmare that could ruin your home and the content inside.

Where You Should First Look to Turn off Your Water

Typically in most Phoenix homes you can find a water shut-off valve located near your front hose bib on the exterior of your home.

**Note: Understanding the type of valve you have is also important.

The two most common valves are a ball-valve and a gate-valve. A gate-valve a lot of times will fail when you close it, it might close but not open or it might not even close. The way a gate valve operates is like a threaded spindle that screws into the center of a gate and as you turn it, it either lifts the gate which allows water to pass or lowers the gate to

shut off the water.

Ball valves are designed with a ball inside the valve. The ball has a hole through the middle so that when the hole is in line with both ends of the valve, flow will occur. When the valve is closed by turning the ball 90 degrees, the hole is perpendicular to the ends of the valve, and therefore flow is blocked. Ball valves are very durable and usually have excellent shutoff even after years of use. They are generally preferred over globe valves in shutoff applications. The main limitation for ball valves is proportional control because of the large amount of flow that the ball allows.

Forrest Anderson recommends if you have a gate-valve you may want to consider switching it out for a ball-valve. This is also a great time to check your water pressure and make sure it is set correctly.

Where to Find the Main Water Shut-Off Valve

The shut-off valve is almost always located near the perimeter of your home. There’s no need to check the central portions of the house.

  • Shut-off valves are typically going to be located on the ground floor.

  • Water lines usually run from the water main to the shut-off valve with no extra piping or detours. Therefore, if you know where your water main is, see where the shortest path to your home would be. The valve is more than likely located here.

  • During the purchase of a house, an inspection report is supplied. The location of your main water shut-off valve is labeled in this report. This can be an easy way to understand from the get-go where your valve is located.

  • Do you know where the big panel is in your home? This panel houses the shut-off valve since it’s illegal to cover it behind the wall.

How to Turn off City Water

If your home is on city water, there will be a meter that controls the water supply, which usually is near the curb or sidewalk in your front yard.

Once located, you will need to remove the lid. Be cautious, as there are almost always spiders and other insects living inside.

There are two sides to a meter — one for homeowners and one for the city.

The homeowner side: This usually has a hand-operated shut-off valve. Turn the valve clockwise until it stops to close and counterclockwise to open.

The city side: If there is not a hand-operated valve, then you will need to use the city side. This side of the meter will have a place to insert a meter key into a notch that will turn clockwise. When the holes are lined up, your water will be shut off.

Be prepared to shut off the water

If you have city water, it is highly recommended that you purchase a meter key, which can be found at most local hardware stores. (The city does prefer that homeowners do not use a meter key unless it is the only option in an emergency.)

Plumbing Fixture Shut-Off Valves

A leak can occur out of nowhere, and at time's it can be much more than a drip. There are times where water can blast out of your pipes, leaving a pool of water on your home floor. Before you run directly to the main shut-off valve, check if that specific plumbing fixture has a shut-off valve of its own.

Toilet – The wall that your toilet is sitting against, there should be a small valve. Typically located below the bowl, it should be turned clockwise gently, to stop the flow of water.

Sink – Underneath the sink in the cabinet, there may be a small shut-off valve (similar to the toilet). During a pipe or faucet leak, turn the handle clockwise to suspend any water from leaking.

Washing Machine – Behind every washing machine, there should be two valves (and sometimes a lever). Both of these valves should be turned clockwise (or the lever should be switched the other way) in order to cease water from flowing. If you don’t see these valves (or lever), you may have to pull out the washer from the wall.

No one wants to deal with a plumbing emergency. But by knowing how to find and operate your home’s shut-off, you’ll be prepared to stop the flow of water if it does. If you have any questions about your plumbing system, or if you find yourself in an emergency situation, call Forrest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We have been serving the Phoenix area for over 50 years and you can call us day or night 24/7.

At Forrest Anderson, we provide residential and commercial plumbing and HVAC services throughout the Phoenix Metro area. Some of our most popular service areas include the cities of Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Ahwatukee, Chandler, Sun Cities, Queen Creek and the San Tan Valley.

Contact Forrest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning, INC. at 623.780.4060 or visit us online at

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