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How To Turn Off The Water In Your Home

Every once in a while, you’re going to need to shut off the water supply to your home. You could be experiencing a plumbing emergency or about to head out on a vacation. Or you’re performing a large scale home renovation. Turning off the water in your home during these situations is a necessity.  

Your home plumbing is a very complicated system. With all those valves and switches, where do you start? Which valve shuts off your home’s main water supply or the water supply to a particular fixture? Here, we talk about where to find those valves and switches, and how to select the correct one for your situation.

Fixture Valves

So you’ve discovered a plumbing issue. Your faucet is dripping despite being off. Or lately, your toilet has been running a little more than usual. Either way, you decide it’s time for some DIY repairs to set things straight. First, you will need to cut off the water supply to the fixture itself. So where to begin? 

Generally shut-off switches to fixtures will vary in both presentation and location. Most of the time, you’ll find them close to the fixture or appliance: 

  • Faucets – Shut-off valve for these fixtures will be below the sink basin. You’ll find them near the plumbing that runs up to the tailpiece of the faucet. For faucets supplying both hot and cold water, they will have two valves. Be sure both before doing any work on your faucet. 
  • Toilets – You’ll find a single shut-off valve near the bottom of the floor next to the bowl beside the water supply valve.
  • Showers & Tubs – Shut-off valves for these fixtures are usually in an access panel. This might be on the opposite wall from the fixture. It may also be one floor above in a ceiling access panel.  If not in an access panel, the valve could be under the floor of the basement.
  • Dishwashers – The shut-off valve to your dishwasher will usually be under your sink. Most of the time, you’ll find it on the water supply hose running beneath your sink cabinet into the dishwasher.
  • Refrigerators -Your refrigerator’s water supply line will usually have it’s own shut-off valve. This connects it to the cold water supply within your home. You can usually find this shut-off valve under your kitchen sink. If not found under your sink, it can be in your basement or a crawl space/cabinet beside the refrigerator. 
  • Washing Machines – Your washing machine will likely have two water supply valves. There will be one for hot water, and another for cold water. You will usually find these on either a utility sink or a recessed water supply box on a wall next to your appliance.
Location of toilet fixture shut-off valve.
Example location of a toilet fixture shut-off valve

Shutting off the Main Water Valve 

There may come a time where you will need to shut off the water supply to your home completely. This is usually the case with plumbing emergencies, like a burst main line pipe, or flooding. 

You would also likely shut off your water main during a large-scale home renovation. Especially in the case if the major work is being done on your home’s piping. 

Lastly, you will want to shut off your water if you plan on leaving your home for an extended period of time.  This can be for a vacation or any another reason. Doing so will save you water and prevent any damage to your home in the event of a leak. 

Whatever the case may be, you’ll need to locate your home’s main water shut-off valves. Here in Toronto or in any other colder climates, you will find the main shut-off valve indoors. This will often be right by the main water supply line. 

Gate vs Ball Valves

There are two types of main water shut-off valves. If you’re residing in an older home, you will likely have a gate valve. Gate valves feature a round handle, and will need many rotations to both open and close the valve. 

Image of gate valve on pipe fixture.
A gate valve

Ball valves, by comparison, are far more common in newer homes. These valves have a lever handle that you will need to turn 90 degrees to shut the water on or off. 

Image of ball valve on pipe fixture
A ball valve

Because these valves are rarely used, they will often be a bit stiff to operate. If you have an old gate valve, keep in mind they are sensitive, and will break if you force it. If it is completely, leave it alone. You will need to either have your local licensed plumber replace it. You may choose to also replace it yourself if you’re comfortable doing so.    

When To Call A Professional?

If you have any questions or need help with locating and shutting off your water supply, contact True Service Plumbing. We are more than happy to help!

Our plumbers are well equipped and knowledgeable to address any plumbing issue and fix it effectively in no time.

So be it a water valve repair, plumbing fixture installation and replacement or unexpected plumbing emergencies – True Service Plumbing has your back when it comes to all things plumbing. 

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