How To Find Your Main Shutoff Valves

Tips On How To Find Your Main Shutoff Valves

How to Locate and Turn Off Your Water Shut-Off Valve

You’re enjoying a relaxing evening at home when you hear the sudden sound of water leaking. Panic sets in as you try to figure out how to stop the water flow and minimize damage. Knowing how to locate and turn off your water shut-off valve could be a lifesaver in situations like these.

By understanding the different types of valves, their purpose, and how to operate them, you can tackle water leaks and emergencies with confidence. In this post, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of water shut-off valves, arming you with the knowledge to act swiftly and effectively in times of need.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the different types of water shut-off valves and their purpose.
  • Identify, operate, and maintain your home’s water shut-off valve for optimal functioning.
  • Contact a professional plumber to handle plumbing emergencies and take special precautions in cold climates.

Understanding Water Shut-Off Valveshand shutting the water shut valve


Water shut-off valves are integral to your home’s plumbing system, regulating the water flow to your property. The most common types of water shut-off valves in Australia are ball valves, gate valves, and T-top isolation taps. These valves come into play in situations where it is necessary to cut off the water supply, such as during a water leak or repair.

Operating a shut-off valve typically involves rotating the handle counterclockwise to secure the valve stem and cease the water flow. Additionally, a rubber gasket should be pressed onto a seat or a gate should be forced to close. Deactivating an interior water shut-off valve is usually sufficient for internal tasks, such as fixing a leaky faucet. However, in cases where the valve is difficult to turn off or there is a persistent water leak, it’s advisable to contact a professional plumber for emergency assistance.

Understanding the various types of shut-off valves and their roles is beneficial. Here are some examples:

  1. Ball valves: characterized by a spherical disc that controls the water flow when the handle is turned.
  2. Gate valves: utilize a gate mechanism to stop water flow.
  3. T-top isolation taps: commonly found in water meter boxes and can be operated with a specialized key.

Each of these shut off valves, also known as shutoff valve, plays a vital role in managing your home’s water supply and addressing potential plumbing emergencies.

Identifying Your Home’s Water Shut-Off Valve

Various Type of Valve


Finding your home’s main water shut-off valve is key to managing leaks and other plumbing crises. The valve is typically found:

  • Near the beginning of your water main, at the boundary line of your property and the street or sidewalk, also known as a curb valve.
  • In colder climates, inside the home, often in the basement.
  • In Australia, close to the water meter.

Shut-off valves come in various designs, such as T-shaped handles, single handles for ball valves, or wheel-shaped handles for gate valves. Once you’ve identified your home’s main shut-off valve, you’ll need to know how to operate it. To open a ball valve, rotate the handle to a 90-degree angle. This move should be from a parallel position to a perpendicular one. For a gate valve, turn the handle using the “Righty tighty, lefty loosey” rule. Compression valves are closed by turning the handle right and opened by loosening it to the left.

Ball valve and Gate valve

If you require assistance in turning off the valve, consider using a screwdriver or pliers (depending on the valve type) to help you operate the water shut-off valve located in water meter boxes. Alternatively, you can contact a certified plumber for help. The ability to locate and operate your home’s water shut-off valve is invaluable in averting damage and dealing with plumbing emergencies.

Turning Off Individual Fixture Valves

turning off the valve

Individual fixture valves are small valves located near the plumbing in sinks, toilets, water heaters, and washing machines, often covered by a cover plate. They enable the water supply to individual fixtures to be shut off, which can be helpful in the event of a leak or an emergency. To shut off the water supply to a specific fixture, simply rotate the dedicated water valve located nearby or within cabinetry in a clockwise direction.

For water heaters, the valve to halt the water flow can be found on a pipe above the system, usually near a hose tap. It is not uncommon for there to be two valves for a mixing tap or shower.

If there are two valves, both the hot and cold water valves should be turned off simultaneously. Keep in mind that shutting off the water at the main water cut-off valve instead of at the fixture can introduce air into the pipes, potentially causing damage when the system is turned back on.

If you’re unable to turn a valve, try using work gloves to protect your hands while applying more force or using a wrench to assist you. However, never attempt to force a valve open or closed, as this could result in breaking the valve and causing a plumbing emergency. It’s beneficial to routinely check isolation valves to guarantee their optimal operation.

Handling Water Leaks and Emergencies

man fixing sink

In case of a water leak or emergency, being able to shut off the main water supply can help reduce damage and avert disasters. Turn off the main water supply as soon as you notice a leak or other plumbing emergency. If you’re unable to shut off the water main yourself, it’s vital to promptly reach out to an emergency drainage plumber.

In the event of a plumbing emergency, LJM Plumbing, Gas & Drainage can provide assistance with turning off your water main. They provide a full suite of emergency plumbing services, including:

  • Water line repair or replacement
  • Drain cleaning
  • Trenchless (no dig) pipe relining
  • Sump pump replacement
  • Water heater installation, repair or replacement

Their experienced and reliable plumbers are available around the clock, every day of the year, to help you handle water leaks and emergencies.

Being prepared for plumbing emergencies entails:

  • Knowing the location of your home’s main water shut-off valve
  • Understanding its operation
  • Regular inspection and maintenance of your water shut-off valves to prevent potential problems and ensure they function properly when needed.

Tools and Techniques for Valve Operation

Plumbing Tools for Water Valve

Operating a water shut-off valve, also known as a water shutoff valve, may require specialized tools, such as a meter key or a wrench, to open the valve cover and shut down the valve itself. Additionally, a flashlight could be useful for finding valves in dimly lit areas. Having these tools on hand can make it easier to locate and operate your water shut-off valves when needed.

The most commonly used water shut-off valve designs in Australia are:

  1. Ball valves: To operate a ball valve, the handle should be moved from a parallel position to a perpendicular position, stopping the water flow.
  2. Gate valves: Gate valves require turning the handle using the “Righty tighty, lefty loosey” rule.
  3. T-top isolation taps: To operate a t top isolation tap, a specialized key is needed.

Familiarizing yourself with the tools and techniques needed to operate various types of water shut-off valves can help you efficiently manage water flow in your home. In times of need, this knowledge can be invaluable in preventing damage and handling plumbing emergencies.

Regular Maintenance and Inspection

Plumbing Maintainance

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your water shut-off valves is pivotal to ensure their optimal functioning and mitigate potential water damage. To inspect a water shut-off valve, first, locate the valve and assess it for any signs of corrosion or damage. If you notice any issues, contact a professional plumber to inspect and repair the valve.

Maintaining your water shut-off valves involves lubricating the valve regularly and inspecting it for any signs of corrosion or damage. This simple, routine maintenance can go a long way in preventing plumbing emergencies and ensuring that your valves are in working order when needed.

Knowing the location of your home’s main water shut-off valve and individual fixture valves can help you act quickly in the event of a leak or emergency. Routine inspection and maintenance of these valves can help you avert potential issues and guarantee their proper functioning when required.

Contacting Professional Plumbers

Contacting Professional Plumbers

If you’re faced with a plumbing emergency or need assistance with your water shut-off valves, professional plumbers like LJM Plumbing, Gas & Drainage can help. We offer a comprehensive selection of other services, including:

  • Blocked drain cleaning
  • Hot water system installation
  • Gas fitting
  • Maintenance plumbing
  • Pipe relining
  • Sewage drainage
  • Stormwater services
  • Backflow testing

The team of LJM Plumbing, Gas & Drainage in Brisbane are:

  • Experienced and reliable plumbers
  • Have a vast range of plumbing and drainage expertise
  • Available 24/7, every day of the year
  • Specialized in handling water leaks and emergencies
  • Offer services in all areas from the Bribie Island to Ipswich and all throughout Brisbane.

When you need help with your water shut-off valves, don’t hesitate to contact a local plumber like LJM Plumbing, Gas & Drainage. Their expertise and prompt service can save you time, and money, and prevent damage to your home.

Know Your Local Water Authority

Girl Calling phone to Water authorities

Your local water authority is responsible for overseeing the water supply and associated shut-off valves in your region. In case of emergencies, the water authority can offer help, such as repairing broken pipes and restoring water supply following a natural disaster. The best way to contact your local water authority is by phone or online.

Being familiar with your local water authority and their role in managing water supply and shut-off valves can provide you with valuable information and resources when dealing with plumbing emergencies. They can also help you locate your main water shut-off valve if you’re unable to find it on your property.

Alongside getting in touch with your local water authority, having a trustworthy local plumber available for emergencies and assistance with your water shut-off valves is beneficial. Combining the expertise of both your local water authority and a professional plumber can help you address plumbing emergencies and maintain your water supply system.

Cold Climate Considerations

Frozen Tap

The following information is not relevant for people in Brisbane but may be useful for people further south.

In cold climates, locating and operating water shut-off valves can present unique challenges. Special precautions should be taken, such as ensuring that both hot and cold water shut-off valves are securely closed when shutting off the water supply and locating the main water shut-off valve and the meter in an area sheltered from freezing temperatures.

To prevent outdoor faucets, including your front hose tap, from freezing and bursting, it’s important to close the supply shut-off valve inside the house. Additionally, disconnect hoses, drain water, and store them for the winter to avoid damage. Taking these precautions can help protect your plumbing system and prevent emergencies.

By understanding the unique challenges of cooler climates, you can better prepare and maintain your water shut-off valves and plumbing system. This knowledge, combined with regular inspection and maintenance, can help you prevent damage and handle plumbing emergencies effectively.


In conclusion, understanding the types, locations, and operation of water shut-off valves is essential for homeowners. By familiarizing yourself with these valves and practicing regular maintenance and inspection, you can prevent water damage and handle plumbing emergencies with confidence. Don’t hesitate to contact your local water authority or professional plumbers like LJM Plumbing, Gas & Drainage for assistance and expert advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is my main water shut off valve?

The main water shut off valve can typically be found on the perimeter of the house, inside the home near the water heater or garage, or outside near the front curb or water meter. Follow the incoming water line up to the meter and you will likely find the red or green handle or knob.

Is a leaking shut off valve an emergency?

A leaking shut off valve can be very dangerous and is considered an emergency that should be addressed as soon as possible.

How do you tell if a water shut off valve is open or closed?

To tell if a water shut off valve is open or closed, examine the ball valve’s handle: if it is parallel to the valve or pipe, it is open, and if it is perpendicular, it is closed.

How do I turn off the outside water valve?

To turn off the outside water valve, rotate the handle clockwise or in the direction the “off” arrow is pointing. Make sure the handle is turned until it cannot turn any further, and disconnect the hose once it is turned off.

What are the most common types of water shut-off valves in Australia?

The most common types of water shut-off valves in Australia are ball valves, gate valves, and T-top isolation taps.