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How to Shut Off Water Valves

October 02, 2023

You know how to shut off your water, right? Knowing how to turn off the valves can certainly come in handy. Especially if you need to repair a leak. You’ll also need to shut off your water before changing a faucet or installing a new sink. Every home’s plumbing is a little different, but there are three main stages where you can control your water supply:

  1. The wall, which stops water from flowing to individual fixtures.
  2. Your main valve, which stops water from following into your home.
  3. The street, which cuts off all water flow to your entire property.

For most repairs, you should only need to cut off your indoor water supply. Most homes in Arizona include shutoff valves for individual fixtures in addition to a main shutoff valve. In Phoenix, all of these valves must be in working order to pass a home inspection. If you need to turn off your water at the street level, contact your water company first. Cities have different types of street valves, so you should ask your water provider which type to look for and where it is located. Consult the City of Phoenix’s Water Services to learn more about how to control the water supply to your Arizona property.

The Shutoff Valve to the Water Supply for an Individual Plumbing Fixture

To stop the flow of water to a specific appliance, such as a sink, check the pipes for the nearest valve; it will likely be made of chrome and located directly below the fixture. Many showers and sinks have two valves for hot and cold water, respectively, so make sure to turn them both off. Appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators sometimes have switches, rather than valves, on the hoses connecting them to the wall. Water heater valves are usually located on the pipes above.

When it comes to which way you should turn the valve, keep in mind the old saying “righty tighty, lefty loosey.” In other words, turning a valve clockwise or to the right, will restrict the flow of water, while turning it counterclockwise or to the left, will allow water to flow. If you have trouble turning the valve, wear a work glove to get a better grip, or use a wrench. Once you turn all of the valves clockwise as far as they will go, the water supply should be successfully shut off.

Before you start making repairs, have a bucket nearby so that you can drain any water that is left over in the pipes. After you finish the job, turn the valves counterclockwise as far as they will go to restore the water flow.

The Shutoff Valve for the Main Water Supply to Your Home

The first step is locating your main shutoff valve. You probably have a brass valve with a round handle near the area where water enters your home. It could be located in your kitchen, a utility closet, a downstairs bathroom, or even on an outside wall. Turning the valve clockwise as far as it can go should shut off all of the water fixtures in your home; however, you’ll need to turn on all faucets to empty any water remaining in the pipes. Let your sinks and showers run until all water flow ceases, and then turn all faucets to the off position. After finishing your repairs or installations, turn the main valve back counterclockwise.

The Shutoff Valve for the Water Supply to Your Entire Property

Before you do anything, call your water company and ask for permission to access your street shutoff valve. If your home’s main water valve fails or needs replacing, you must turn off the water supply to your whole property before attempting repairs. You’d also need to do this before trying to fix a leak in the pipes connecting your home to the street valve. The shutoff valve for the property is usually located in the same metal box that contains the water meter. Remove the box cover and look for a handle; you might need a long wrench to reach it.

Different cities have different types of street valves. Ball valves have long, thin handles, while gate valves have more rounded handles. A ball valve handle will usually be aligned with the pipe while open; turn it 90 degrees to the right to turn it off. Gate valve handles should be turned clockwise as far as possible to stop the water flow.

Some ball valves have a metal flange, in which case you’d need to use a pipe wrench to make it turn. Valves that haven’t been turned in a long time may lock up. If you’re having trouble turning the handle, don’t force it; instead, call a professional plumber in Mesa or your local public works to turn it for you. Remember that your pipes will still be full of water after you cut off the supply, so turn on all of your faucets to drain what’s left before you start making repairs.

And if you ever get stuck in a bunch of hot (or cold) water, just give Patrick Riley | Isley's a call.

We’re here to handle all your plumbing emergencies.

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By Ty Lindsay

Ty Lindsay is the Director of Field Operations at Patrick Riley | Isley’s and a 15-year veteran of the plumbing and HVAC trades. In 2010, Ty earned his Journeyman’s plumbing license. He became a Master Plumber five years later and earned his Journeyman HVAC technician’s license that same year. Ty’s breadth of knowledge in plumbing and HVAC includes both residential and commercial work. He’s been a loyal member of the Patrick Riley | Isley’s team since 2016.