Be Prepared Before a Crisis

Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Do you know where the master water shut-off valve is in your home? Knowing how to turn the water off is something everyone living in the house should be able to do, including the kids.

You never know when you’ll have a pipe spring a leak, and you need to turn the water off in a hurry. During an emergency, you can’t afford to waste time searching for it!

First, you need to locate the master shut-off valve. Understanding how the water comes to your house can help you identify and find it. Skagit PUD has waterline mains that feed different parts of a service area. Off the main line, distribution lines provide water to your house. Before water gets to your home, there’s a meter with a shut-off valve.

Technically, you can shut the water off to the property here, but the PUD prefers that you don’t use this valve because of the potential for damage. So, this is the last resort option to shut the water off from the meter.

Water lines usually run from the water meter to the master shut-off valve without extra piping or detours. Therefore, if you know where your water meter is located outside, look for the shortest path to your home. The valve is more than likely found here.

The most common location for the master valve would be:

  • Where the water supply pipe enters the foundation.
  • Near your clothes washer hook-up.
  • Near your hot water tank.

Locating the Proper Shut-Off Valve
Almost every home, apartment, and business has a master shut-off valve. To determine if you’ve found it, try turning the valve off briefly and see if that shuts off all water faucets in the building. If not, repeat this process with each valve until you find the one that does shut off all taps.

Basements. The shut-off valve is typically located near the front foundation wall. The line may come through the concrete floor or the wall. The valve is typically within three to five feet of where the service line enters. Sometimes, the service line may enter a different area, like a mechanical room, up through the floor, near the water heater or furnace.

Crawlspace plus a basement. The shut-off valve may be where the service line enters the basement; in some older homes, the shut-off may be inside the crawl space. If your shut-off valve is in a crawl space, you may want to consider a secondary valve located in the basement.

Crawlspace with no basement. The shut-off valve is typically located near the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but anywhere is possible. If it’s inside the crawlspace, you may want to consider a second valve located in the living space, for example, near the water heater or under a sink.

Slab-on-grade construction. The shut-off valve is typically located near the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but anywhere is possible.

Once you’ve found the master valve, mark it with something distinctive — bright paint, a tag, or ribbon. Marking it will save you valuable time should you ever experience interior flooding or other crisis requiring quick water shut off.