During an emergency, especially those that are ground moving such as earthquakes, you’ll need to know how to turn off your utilities to avoid leaks, fires or flooding damage.  It’s best to learn and practice now, before an emergency strikes.  Here’s the information you need to know to turn your water mains off:
  • Where: the water meter is usually close to the street or alley so that it can easily be reached by your public works.  It usually has a cover on it that says “Water Meter.”  In colder areas, it is not uncommon to find the main water valve inside the house where it is less likely to freeze.  If you are not sure where yours is located, you can call your local public works for help.
  • When: in the event that you have broken water lines inside or outside the house, you can shut off the main water valve on the street.  Some cities do not allow homeowners to turn off the street water valve, please check with your local public works.
  • How: the water meter has a valve similar to that of the gas meter.  In the on position, it runs with the flow of the pipe.  To turn it off, turn the valve so that it is cross-wise to the pipe.  You may need some tools for this, try a pair of adjustable pliers.
  • Note: as with the gas shut off, these instructions are for the main water valve that sends water to your house.  You have smaller water shut-offs inside the house for fixtures that use water, such as sinks and toilets.  These can be shut-off by hand or with pliers just by turning the valve cross-wise to the pipe.