Purpose and Location of Plumbing Shut-Off Valves

There are a few areas of a given home plumbing system that it’s vital for homeowners to know and be aware of, and perhaps the single most important example here is the main water shut-off valve. Likely your first course of action in many cases of plumbing emergencies, the main water shut-off valve has helped numerous homeowners avoid major plumbing disasters in their homes, and might do the same for you.

At My Buddy the Plumber, our plumbers are happy to assist new homeowners or anyone who is unaware of their plumbing shut-off valves with locating them and understanding their importance. Here’s a primer on both the main water shut-off valve and other shut-off valves for important plumbing fixtures in your home, including why they matter and how to locate them.

location plumbing shut-off valves

Main Water Shut-Off Valve Basics and Importance

Water flows through a variety of pipes and into several different home plumbing accessories, but all of these connect back to the main water shut-off valve. Most homes actually have two such valves: One for outside water sources, which is generally controlled by the city you live in, plus one for your indoor plumbing and water areas.

So why is this interior valve so important? Well, because it’s the only way you can shut off water to all fixtures in the home simultaneously if a major plumbing emergency is taking place, such as a burst sewer line or something related. Being able to immediately move to the main water shut-off valve during such an event often saves homeowners from hundreds or thousands of gallons of water leaking out into their home – but if you don’t know where this valve is, you risk letting such an emergency continue unabated, costing you massive sums for water damage and various plumbing repairs.

For these reasons, all homeowners should know the location of the main shut-off valve.

Locating Main Shut-Off Valve

Here are some basic steps for finding your main water shut-off valve if you don’t know its current location:

  • Generally check near the perimeter of the home, not the center – and you can also avoid upstairs areas, as these valves are always on ground floors or in basements.
  • In most cases, water lines run from the water main to the shut-off valve directly. If you know where your water main is, find the shortest path from it to the home, and you’ve likely found the valve.
  • If this doesn’t work, check the inspection report from the home inspection when you moved in. It should have the shut-off valve labeled. The valve will often be behind an access panel of some kind.

Other Shut-Off Valves

There are also a few specific plumbing fixtures that have their own shut-off valves in case of an emergency that only related to this one fixture. These include:

  • Toilet valve: Usually located below the bowl on the wall behind your toilet.
  • Sink: Under the sink in the cabinet.
  • Washing machine: Generally two valves behind the machine, both of which must be turned to stop water flowing.

For more on water shut-off valves, or to learn about any of our plumbing services like drain cleaning, sewer line repair or water heating assistance, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Plumber today.