Water leaking up the stem on the main water shutoff valve


This article is to help those people whose water is supplied by the city. If your house is on a private pump or well, click here.


You will be able to find the main water shutoff valve to your home by finding your water meter.

Possible locations:

1. Your water meter could be located in a few different places, but in most homes the main water valve is located where your front yard meets the street. Look for a circular plate (plastic or metal) at ground level that usually says “WATER” or a concrete or plastic box (also at ground level). These boxes are typically 2 feet by 2 feet, but the circular plate is a little smaller. Lift the lid off of the box (use a pry bar if needed) and find the water meter. Next to...

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If the water is leaking on the home owners side of the water meter in most municipalities it is the owners responsibility to make or pay for any repairs. The repair is straight forward and simple.

If you won't be violating any ordinances you could turn the water off yourself. To shut the water flow off at the street you will need to look for the valve. Usually located just in front of the house near the curb or before the street. To help narrow your search water companies will mark the location/direction of the valve on the street surface. Look for a painted blue insignia. It will look something like a circle with an arrow pointing towards the valve location. It is probably in a sunken concrete pit.

To repair the leaking Gate valve with or without the water being turned off start by closing it half way. Using adjustable pliers (channel locks), pipe wrench or adjustable (cresent) wrench turn the bonnet/ packing nut clockwise slowly, but firmly. Apply only enough mild...

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Quick Guide

If this is an emergency where water from your home's main line is flowing into your house, do this first:


If you have a water leak or just need to turn off the water in your home for remodeling or repairs, you must turn off your water upstream at some point.

Luckily, many houses--especially newer houses--have a number of upstream cut-off points to try before turning off the water main.

Begin with the nearest cut-off and work outward. Here is the progression you should follow.

Before Anything Else, Try to Cut Off Water Close to Source

If you have a leak at your toilet, sink, clothes washer, or bathtub (with exposed plumbing), shut off water close to the source:

Toilet: Look under the toilet, against the wall. You will see flexible metal tubing. Turn the handle clockwise until the handle stops. Do not force. Sink: Look under the sink cabinet. You will see two sets of flexible metal tubing. Turn...
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After the water passes through the three city-installed valves, it comes to what is known as the main shutoff valve in your home. This is the valve that you need to be able to locate in an emergency. Find it before an emergency occurs so, when you’re in a pinch, you know where it is. This valve is usually in the basement or on an outside wall in a utility area of the house. The main shutoff valve allows a full flow of water through the pipe when it’s open. Turning off this valve (by turning it clockwise) cuts off the water supply to the entire house.

The main shutoff valve in your house probably has one of two designs:

Gate valve: Gate valves are very reliable and last for years, but they become difficult to turn after not being turned for years. If you haven’t closed the main shutoff valve since you moved into your house, do it now. Better to find out that you can’t turn it with your bare hands now than to wait until you’re standing in 6 inches of water.

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Fix a leaking shutoff valve

Photo 1: Tighten the packing nut

Tighten the packing nut on the toilet shutoff valve one-eighth turn clockwise to try to seal a leak around the nut. Wrap cloth or masking tape on the plier’s jaws to protect the nut’s finish. Use light, steady pressure so you don’t damage the water lines.

Photo 2: Disassemble the shutoff valve

Disassemble the shutoff valve—leaving the toilet and supply lines intact—then clean and flex the old neoprene washers inside the valve to renew them. Turn off the house water main before taking apart the toilet shutoff valve. Properly sized replacement washers for the shutoff valve are available from plumbing supply houses and better hardware stores that stock a large inventory of repair parts. If this step doesn’t stop the leak, you’ll need to replace the whole valve.

The plumbing supply shutoff valves behind toilets or under sinks can go for years without being turned off and then reopened...

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The 1/4 turn stops the valve from freezing in the open position and sometimes having the valve stem fully open causes a slight drip

How can someone say your meter is in the front yard not knowing where you live as some of us have to be concerned about a frost zone and not all water mains have water meters (private well for example)

"If it is the valve in your yard then that is the water company's problem. Only they can shut off valves further up the line to repair that one, and besides it's their equipment"

Not true as many locations the building owner is responsible for the tap connection to the city water supply and the sewer connection to the city sewer

When working on a packing gland leak (nut) I found by closing the valve and loosening the packing nut removing the stuff (packing) from inside the nut and replacing it with graphite or Teflon packing (not tape or paste) and slowly lowering the nut to compress the packing material and then losing the...

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Do you know where the main water shut-off valve is in your home? If you can’t answer that within five seconds, then you need to locate it and remember where in case there’s ever a serious leak. Otherwise, you could end up with a plumbing nightmare on your hands…

Where to Find the Main Water Shut-Off Valve

The shut-off valve is almost always located near the perimeter of your home. There’s no need to check the central portions of the house. Forget the upstairs too, as shut-off valves are going to be located on the ground floor. For those with basements, it will usually be located here.

Water lines usually run from the water main to the shut-off valve with no extra piping or detours. Therefore, if you know where you water main is, see where the shortest path to your home would be. The valve is more than likely located here.

During the purchase of a house, an inspection report is supplied. The location of your main water shut-off valve is labeled in this...
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sure that these valves are not painted closed from years of haphazardly applied exterior house paint. The valve should turn freely and should be easy to reach Additionally, the code requires that the main water shutoff valve must be made accessible (meaning it cannot be concealed or difficult to reach) and must provide for proper drainage. Drainage may be accomplished with a simple bleed orifice on the valve body itself or with a separate drain valve located near the main shutoff valve. The purpose of this drain valve is to “bleed” the water supply system after the main shutoff valve has been closed (turned off). Without a drain valve, the plumbing supply system in the home will continue to hold water – and therefore a fixture will continue to leak and cause needless water damage – until all of the residual water has drained out of the plumbing supply system. Figure 2 (at right) shows the main water shutoff valve in the curbside...
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WATER SHUTOFF VALVE, WELL - CONTENTS: How to Locate & Shut Off Water in a Building served by a private wellk & pump system. What are the controls, switches, valves found on water tanks and water pumps, what do they do, how are they repaired? POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to turn off water at a building: how to find the main water shutoff valve on pump and well systems REFERENCES

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Well water shutoff valves:

This article describes The Main Water Shutoff Valve or Control, How to Locate & Shut Off Well Water in a Building for private pump and well systems. We explain how to locate and use the main well water shutoff valve to turn off water in a building.

In our photo at page top the white arrow points to a lever type main water shutoff valve found near the outlet from the water pressure tank. This valve will turn off...

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This article is to help those people whose water is supplied by a private pump or well. If your house is supplied by the city, click here.


How do I find the main water shutoff valve to my house? My house is on a well.

Long before your toilet busts a leak and your faulty supply line valve lets you down, locate and label the main water shutoff valve for your house.

I wish I could tell you that every main water shutoff valve was uniform in it’s location, making it a cinch a find, but unfortunately that is not the case. So if you don’t find what you are looking for in this article, don’t get too angry at your plumber, just keep searching the web or call your plumber to help you.

There are a couple of...

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I'm going to be the party pooper here.

First, there is an actual tool for this sort of thing. I have one, although it doesn't look exactly like this. It has a cavity into which the shut-off valve handle fits, gives you leverage, turn, open:
But you can use a regular wrench if you're careful, but you may not want to touch it, since you risk screwing things up worse.

At the very least, DON'T DO DIY PLUMBING ON A FRIDAY, because if you mess up, you need to call the plumber for a Saturday or Sunday visit, and you're into double time charges.

I doubt that insurance is going to cover this. That's something that a home inspector should have caught before the papers were signed. But good luck.

It isn't the screw in the top of the handle; that only serves to hold the handle onto the valve stem, which is flared (or starred) so the force of the turning isn't all on the screw. The underside of the handle will have insets...

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How to turn off the water supply to sinks, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures in your home

LightWaveMedia / Shutterstock.com

Turn off water to sinks and toilets at the small valve beneath them. Off is clockwise.

When a home’s water supply system leaks or a repair to one of the plumbing fixtures is needed, you’ll have to shut off the water. It’s best to do this at the valve that’s closest to the problem. That way, the rest of the house will still have a functioning water supply.

Shut Off Plumbing Fixtures

Most water-using fixtures and appliances have some type of shut-off valve that allows you to stop the water supply at the fixture without shutting off the water to the entire house.


Lever valve controls supply to water heater. Note the red main supply valve in the background.

To shut off a faucet, toilet, or similar fixture, first look for a stop valve that’s connected to the water supply tubes, located directly...

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About two months ago I purchased a 1962ish 1 story house on a concrete slab. The water and gas lines come up through the floor behind the hot water heater and boiler. When I bought the house, I could tell that water had leaked at some point in this laundry room, but no water was leaking. See the link below for pictures of the main water shut-off valve inside the house. As you can see, a radiator clamp is holding on some sort of rubber strip that has been wound multiple times. The second clamp is just hanging loose. I cant tell if it was at some point on top of the first clamp or what? Yesterday it began leaking a drop of water ever 3-5 seconds. Obviously this needs to be fixed. Is this something I can address myself? I feel pretty handy, but the space is tight, and it leaves little room for error.

I do have a water shutoff valve at the street under a 1 foot diameter rounder cover. A few days ago I doused the valve with WD-40 to prep it in case something...

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How to Find and Shut Off Main Water Shutoff Valve

In case of a plumbing emergency, it is always a good idea to educate yourself on how (and where) to turn off your main water supply - as well as the isolation valves on your various plumbing fixtures. A ruptured line, burst pipe, or sewage backup can wreak havoc on your home and potentially cost you thousands in water damage and water bills.

In severe cold weather, the water in your pipes can freeze. When water freezes, it expands and can burst the pipe, not matter how thick or strong it may be. Learn how to prevent frozen pipes here; but, if it's too late and the pipe has already burst, turn off your main water valve as fast as you can to prevent further damages.

Being able to contain the situation as soon as possible will greatly help with damage control and allow a wider window of time for help to arrive (if the situation calls for it). Everyone in your home should know exactly where the water...

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Last Updated December 07, 2017 15:21 PM

While prepping to install a new kitchen faucet, I went to shut off the water supply to the house since there were no valves under the sink. I mistakenly chose to turn the city-side (gate valve) supply off instead of the home-side (ball valve). When I started turning, water began leaking from the stem. Doing a quick google of this let me know that I needed to tighten the packing nut. Never having done this before, I started tightening the wrong thing, which caused THAT to start leaking as well.

This 'wrong thing' is a second opening at the bottom of the valve. It's supposed to be closed off with a cap that just screws onto the thread. Tightening it caused it to leak. At this point I called a plumber and he said I could take care of this myself and told me the packing nut was my problem and how to tighten it. He called this other thing at the bottom a petcock. After getting off the phone, I followed his...

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The pressure relief valve on a hot water heater can leak over time.

I just flushed my hot water heater as you mentioned and now the pressure relief valve is leaking. Is this something I can replace on my own, or should I call a plumber? -Leighton

Hi Leighton,

Pressure relief valves sometime develop a drip when opened for the first time in years. Try opening and closing it a few times to see if it will seat itself. If you have a large leak or the drip doesn’t stop on its own in a day or two, the valve will need to be replaced. Whether you can replace it yourself will depend on your skill level, but as far as plumbing repairs go, it’s not that difficult. If you do try to fix it, here are the basic steps involved:

First, turn off the gas to the water heater, or flip the breaker if it’s electric. Close the cold water cut-off valve going into the water heater. Open the valve at the bottom and the pressure relief valve for a minute to drain a little water out...
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Hi Wayne5515, I’m Blake from The Home Depot in California. In most cases it is not possible to replace the valve or seats inside of a hose bibb as manufacturers do not make them with standard internal parts. Because of this you will need to replace the whole hose bibb. Since there are a few different types of hose bibbs you will need to find out which type you have before you can get a replacement.

Types of Hose Bibbs:

Soldered on (sweat on): Avalible in 1/2" or 3/4"

Male Threaded: Avalible in 1/2" or 3/4"

Female Threaded: Avalible in 1/2" or 3/4"

NOTE: Before removing any pipe fittings ensure that the homes main, or a local shutoff has been closed and that you have opened a valve to release pressure from the system.

If your hose bibb is soldered on to a copper pipe, you have two choices. The best way would be to desolder (melting solder with a mapp torch) and remove the current fitting. I would not suggest using a...

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InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Water heater piping installation & connections:

Here we describe the plumbing connections and piping options for hot water system hook-ups. We explain the piping for a basic water heater installation compared with options for connecting hot water heaters in parallel, in series, or ganged.

Included ar typical time estimates to install a water heater. Plumbing war story: geyser wars: what can go wrong when installing a part on a water cylinder (water heater). We describe a water heater relief valve repair catastrophe when just touching parts leads to a flooded basement.

Page top sketch provided courtesy of Toronto Home Inspection & Education Firm Carson Dunlop Associates.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

Water Heater Installation Hookup: Piping...

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Learning Objective: Identify types of hot-water distribution systems and components. Understand the operation and maintenance of these systems.

In hot-water heating systems, the water is heated at a central source and circulated through pipes to radiators, convectors, or unit heaters. There are two general types of low-temperature, hot-water heating systems. The first type is a gravity system in which water circulation depends upon the weight difference between the hot column of water leading to the radiators and the relatively cooler, heavier column of water returning from the radiators. The second type is the forced-circulation system in which water is circulated by a power-driven pump.


The distribution systems and piping for hot-water heating systems and for domestic hot-water supply systems are simpler in design than those for steam because there are no traps, drips, or reducing valves. Several items, such as supports, insulation, and...

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