How to Shut Off Water During a Plumbing Emergency

burst water pipe leaking

No one wants to have a plumbing emergency in their home so bad it causes flood damage. For times when you’re dealing with a burst pipe, overflowing toilet, or other large emergency that doesn’t seem to be fixable at the source, it’s good to know how to turn the water off before a plumber can arrive.

Local water shut-off areas

Inside your home near major plumbing areas, you can typically find water shut-off valves. Say your toilet is causing the water problem–if you look behind the tank, usually near the floor, you can see what’s called an angle stop. It looks sort of like a square knob coming out of the wall.

Turning this will stop the water coming into the plumbing for most pipes in that area. That means that although it’s behind the toilet, it can also stop the water to the bathroom sink, and possibly even plumbing in another room if they share a wall.

Before an emergency arises, take the time to locate all the angle stops in your home, and which pipes they shut off. This way you’ll be able to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible if something happens.

The main shut-off valve

If you cannot locate the angle stop, or if that isn’t solving your water problem, you may need to find the main shut-off valve for your home. This shut-off will stop all of the water coming from the street pipe to your house.

You may also need to use this option for times like a burst pipe, where an angle shut off wouldn’t be able to stop the problem, or if you have multiple areas causing water damage.

For most homes built before 2000, the main water valve can be located in a box on your property near the sidewalk or street. Simply remove the cover and use a shut-off curb key to turn the valve closed.

If your home was built after 2000, you can typically find the main shut-off valve in your garage.

Again, it’s recommended to locate your box and make sure your key is in an easily accessible place so that if an emergency comes up you can be ready for it.

When to call a plumber

If you’re having a leak, it’s always best to call a plumber to inspect and make sure it’s properly repaired. But that doesn’t mean you need to call a plumber in the middle of the night if you can hold off until the morning.

If you can find and utilize the shut-off valve to stop the leak, and it’s not interfering with your home needs, you can wait until morning to call the plumber so as not to incur after-hours fees. The important thing is to stop the leak and minimize damage, so it’s wise to do what you feel is best.

If you do feel like you’re having a plumbing emergency, even after shutting off the water in your house, make sure to call us right away. We have appointments available any time of the day or night, and weekends too.