How to shut-off the main water supply to your home!

“Do you know how, more importantly where to shut-off the main water supply to your home?”

After 20 years it still surprises me that so many (in fact most) clients don’t know how to go about turning-off the main water supply to their homes.

Every home should have a readily accessible, functional main water shut-off valve. The fact is many times the valve is concealed, not easily accessible, non-functional, all of the above or missing altogether!  Regardless, here’s a pretty sure-fire way and/or backup plan to get the water shut-off quickly in the event of an emergency:

1) Locate and know where your water meter is located, typically you can find it near the curb or sidewalk in front of your house.

Shut-off valve closed2) Open the lid to look inside.  Not all lids are the same.  Sometimes it’s necessary to remove the entire cover to see the meter or to access the shut off valve inside. 

Shut-off valve open

3.) There are a couple of ways to turn the valve.  Ultimately you’re trying to line up the two circles, about a 1/2 turn clockwise. There is a tool made that goes by a few different names, the most common of which is “Meter Key” sold at just about every home center and hardware store.  Expect to pay $10.00-30.00
Meter Key
You might have some hand tools laying around that may work in a pinch.  Namely a crescent wrench and something long, narrow & ridged like a screwdriver. See illustration on how to use these common hand tools to do the job in place of a “meter key.”
Hand Tools

It would do you well to familiarize yourself with the “how to” described here.

I can usually tell if a customer/client has lived through a plumbing emergency or catastrophe by their knowledge of where & how to turn-off the main water supply.  One family I met recently, had a bright red meter key conspicuously hanging on two nails in the garage.  My client told me about a nightmare experience they had in the past, wherein a toilet supply line had ruptured and nobody knew the first thing about getting the water shut-off. The water line leaked several hundred, maybe thousands of gallons of water into the house before the water was shut-off by a responding emergency plumber.  Not to mention the expense of the emergency service call, they now faced not only the repair of the broken toilet line (the least of their worries), but thousands of dollars in restoration repairs and a hefty insurance claim.  The client went on to say that now everyone who lives in the house (including their 7 year-old) knows what the meter key is and how/when to use it!

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