Even if you don't need to know how to do this right now, it is a very wise idea to learn how to do this before disaster strikes! You may need to do this if you get a leak in the middle of the night. You may need to do this if some DIY goes wrong and you have a burst pipe! You may need to do this after a natural disaster! In case of emergencies like those above, or if you are just wanting to do some routine repairs or a bit of DIY upgrading of the plumbing, you will need to know how to turn off the water supply to your house. Below are some ways to turn off the water to your house:
Turn off the cold water to the inside of your house
You will need to know where the main supply line is into the house. If you don't know then this is usually in the garage. It will be the largest pipe coming into the house. On this main supply line there will be a valve. You will know because it will have a lever handle there. If you pull the handle down so that it is perpendicular it is in the off position. When the handle is parallel to the pipe, the valve is open. In older houses this main valve may be outside of the house. It will be clearly marked in a green box. The valve type may be a lever like inside modern houses, or it may look like a small round handle, or it may even have a key handle to turn it off.
Turn off the water at the street
This is also known as shutting off the water at the supply side. You will need to know where the main water supply is to your house. If you don't know, contact your water company – often your water meter is located where the stopcock is. Turning off your water to your house at the street, is much like turning off the water inside your house. There will be a lever, or a round handle, or there may be a valve with a metal flange. If the latter is the case, you will need a pipe wrench to turn it, a quarter turn will turn the valve off.
Turning off water to individual plumbing sections
There are also valves in the plumbing system in your house, which can be used to turn off water to individual areas. These valves will be in places like underneath the kitchen sink or in the pipe going to the toilet. The valve is usually directly under the fixture. For baths and showers there will be an access panel on the other side of the wall as the bath or shower, in the basement underneath the fixture, or in a ceiling above the fixture.
REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE
Once you have turned the water off, there will still be water in the pipes which is under pressure. A bit like a hose, you have to drain it or it will squirt out everywhere. You should go to a bath or sink and run the hot and cold taps to release the pressure in the system. Also important to note that if you are doing work in a house with two stories, use gravity to your advantage – turn the taps on in the lower story of your house!