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How to Find Outside Water Shut-Off Valve

How to Find Outside Water Shut-Off Valve

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shut-off valve - Hand holding water shutoff valve - man holding blue handled ball shut-off valve

A burst pipe or ruptured line can quickly wreck your home and property, costing you a significant amount of money. In the face of an emergency, knowing where your water shut-off valve is will save you considerable trouble.

Every home has a main water supply shut-off valve, and it’s vital for everyone living in your home to know where yours is located.

shut-off valve - Person shutting off the water flow- white pvc pipes with valves and main valve controller

How to Locate the Main Water Shut-Off Valve

The location of the main water shut-off valve varies from home to home. Most times, you can find this valve inside your home. If it’s not inside, it will be on your property boundary line or in your street in a covered box situated in an underground “pit.” To find your water shut-off valve, look for the following:

Inside Your House

  • If your home has a basement or crawl space, your water shut-off valve may be located there. You will typically find it near the front foundation wall. The water shut-off valve is usually located within a few feet of where the main water pipe enters the house from the water meter.
  • For homes with a crawl space but no basement, the typical place to find the shut-off valve is under the kitchen sink or close to the water heater. If you find the valve inside the crawlspace, there’s a probability of a second valve in your living space. If your home is constructed on a slab, you may find the valve near the water heater or in the garage.

Property Inspection Report

  • Check the property inspection report if you’ve had no luck locating your water shut-off valve after searching your home. The information you need will be in the report’s plumbing section, which should have been completed in the final stages of purchasing your home.

End of the Property Boundary Line

  • If the main water shut-off valve isn’t inside your home, it must be outside. Some homes have underground valves on the property boundary line or the street. It is usually called a curb valve and is buried in a rectangular or round metal cover labeled “water meter.” However, you may need a “meter key” to access the cement box it is placed in. You can purchase this key at a local hardware store. 

How to Turn Off the Main Water Valve

shut-off valve - Main water flow shutoff valve pipes - ball shut-off valve with red handle metal pipes

The water shut-off valve will either be a gate or a ball valve. If it is located inside your home, it will likely be a gate valve.

Inside Your Home

Gate Valve

  • Gate valves are also referred to as round “wheel” handle valves. They are turned off by turning the handle clockwise several times. It may take two or more full revolutions to shut off the water. If old water shut-off valves are damaged or corroded, we recommend calling a plumber to help you if you find it difficult to turn the valve by hand.


Ball Valve

  • A ball valve is a straight handle; you know it is open when it is parallel to the pipe. Turn it off by moving the handle from a parallel to a perpendicular position. The body of a ball valve has stops that allow the handle to move in either direction and will stop it once it’s fully perpendicular. 
shut-off valve - Gate Valve - large blue gate valve unconnected

Outside Your Home

  • Turning off valves outside your home isn’t as simple as the inside valves. Once you’ve located the utility box, lift the cover, and set it aside. You may need pliers or a wrench to remove the bolt holding the cover in place. Some boxes require a meter key to unlock them.
  • Once you’ve successfully removed the cover, you will see the glass-covered water meter, which you can ignore. You may find two valves in the box: the street-side valve and the house-side valve.


Street-Side Valve

  • You’ll find this valve on the street side of the water meter. The valve is designed so that it is not easy to turn off. Only the water company can do that using a special tool. Be careful not to mess with this valve, as there may be legal consequences.


House-Side Valve

  • This valve is on the house side of the meter, which is closest to the house on the exterior wall. To turn the valve off, turn it clockwise. You may need a meter key or a wrench to turn it off. 
shut-off valve - Shutoff valve located outside - man seated next to outside water shut-off valve


You now know how to find your main water shut-off valve and turn off the water supply. This is crucial information, and it may be what will save you from the high cost of damaged property. 

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