Instructions for nearly every plumbing job start with this caveat: turn off the water supply. Failing to turn off the water before working on a pipe or other fixture in your Portland home can result in a mishap that’s either wildly comic or borderline tragic. It’s amazing how fast water flows from an open pipe as the you’re looking for the shutoff valve.

Whether you’re making a repair or there’s a plumbing emergency, it’s important to know how to shut off the water. If you live in the Portland-metro area, here’s what you need to know.

The Main Shutoff

Sometimes you’ll need to turn off all the water in a house. Do this if a fixture doesn’t have its own shutoff valve, or if you suspect your pipes are leaking.

Find the main shutoff: Look for this valve inside your home. It may be near the hot water heater, in a basement or outdoors near the house’s foundation. Turn the valve. Test to see if the water if off by turning on a faucet.

If you don’t have an inside water main: You may be able to turn off the water near the meter. Check with your municipality because in some areas only a city worker or licensed plumber is allowed to turn this valve. In Portland and the surrounding Oregon towns, residents are allowed to shut off water at the meter.

The water meter and main shutoff valve are in the water meter box.

The main shutoff is on the side of the water meter closest to the house. After turning the valve, look at the dial on the water meter. If the sweep hand and leak detector dial are still, no water is running.

Find the water meter: Residential water meters in Portland and nearby suburbs are generally in an underground box with a metal lid. The meter box may be in the sidewalk or near your property line in front of your house. The lid will be labeled “Water Meter.” The meter itself is a round dial, sometimes with its own flip-up lid.

Turn off water near the meter: The shutoff valve is between the meter and the supply line that runs into the house. You’ll need a wrench to turn the valve. There may also be a street-side shutoff valve between the meter and the street. Don’t turn off a street-side valve.

Confirm the water is off: Lift the lid on the meter face. Your meter may have a small blue or red leak-detector dial. If it is spinning, that means water is running.

Local Shutoff Valves

Fixture supply stops are often installed on the lines leading to individual fixtures. Your sinks probably have valves beneath them. Valves for your toilet and appliances such as washing machines and water heaters may have valves on the wall. These valves are convenient because you can work on a single fixture without turning off water to the whole house.

Tub and Shower Shutoff Valves

Some tubs and showers have shutoff valves that are difficult to find. They are sometimes inside an access panel, under the floor or in the ceiling. If you need to turn off water to the shower or tub and you can’t get access to theses valves, you’ll have to turn off the main.

Even if you never want to work on your home’s plumbing, it’s important to know how to turn the water off. If you have a plumbing emergency, you’ll want to turn off the water before it causes damage to your home.

Meticulous Plumbing is here to help with any of your plumbing emergencies or problems. If your home needs new shutoff valves, call us today for friendly, expert help.

Last updated August 18, 2016

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