Bob Vila Radio: The Importance of Water Shutoff Valves

When plumbing problems arise, knowledge of water shutoff valves helps to keep the situation under control.

By Bob Vila | Updated Jun 28, 2015 1:03 PM

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Protect your home with a little added insurance—insurance that doesn’t cost a nickel—by making sure everyone in your household understands at least one thing about plumbing: water shutoff valves.

How to Find Water Shutoff Valves


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Listen to BOB VILA ON LOCATING WATER SHUTOFF VALVES or read the text below:

After all, knowing where the valves are—and knowing how to operate them—can keep a burst pipe or leaky connection from turning into a big, expensive mess.

Valves usually have either spigot-type handles or a lever. In either case, turn clockwise to turn off the water. You’ll find shutoffs under sinks and toilets, behind the washing machine, and at the top of your hot water heater. Valves for tubs and showers are often tucked behind wood or plastic access panels, but sometimes you’ll find them in an adjoining closet or hallway.

Of course, the most important valve everyone should know about is the main shutoff valve that supplies the whole house. It may be located either inside the house or out. Valves that aren’t used frequently can develop mineral deposits that make them hard or even impossible to turn, so check yours periodically to make sure they work. It’s also a good idea to tag them appropriately.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.