The water main, or water valve, is responsible for controlling the water flow to your property. In Australia, water mains come in a variety of designs, most commonly found as a ball valve, gate valve or T-top isolation tap.
Your water main should never be used to regulate the volume of water flow as it is designed to be completely open (to allow full flow) or totally closed up (to stop water flow entirely). If you try to use your water main to adjust water flow, it can result in corrosion and increased wear-and-tear.
The majority of water mains will stay on or open to allow consistent water flow throughout the year. However, there may be instances where shutting off your water main is necessary.
When Would You Need to Turn Off Your Water Main?
It’s not every day that you would just decide to turn off your water main. However, there are a couple of scenarios where you might find yourself in need of knowing. Examples of this would be if you:
- Suspect there is a water leak in your property.
- Observe signs of water pooling in your yard.
- See water dripping out from under your kitchen sink.
- Find water gushing uncontrollably through your house.
The quick conclusion to such situations would be that there is a damaged or burst water pipe somewhere within your property. Shutting down the main water valve is a vital step in preventing any further damage from occurring.
Other instances where cutting off the water supply to your property is required include:
- Plumbing-related renovation work.
- Plumbing replacement, repair or maintenance.
- Replacing plumbing fixtures.
For in-house jobs, turning off your water valve isn’t necessary. Simply turning off an indoor supply valve is sufficient. However, in the other cases mentioned above, shutting off the water supply is necessary to prevent flooding, minimise water damage and wastage.
But the question lies - do you know how to turn off a water main? And do you even know where to find it?
Where to Locate and How to Turn Off Your Water Main
When you need to stop the water supply in your property, your first task is to find the water main location.
Inside Your House
In Australia and other warmer regions, the main shut off valve is commonly found at the front of the house, protected by a council cover plate. In places with colder climates, water mains are often located inside the house, such as in the kitchen or utility room.
When you find the shut off valve, all you have to do is turn it clockwise for the water supply to be immediately cut off from your house. Sometimes, the valve can be a bit too stiff to move.
If you’re having difficulty, try wearing protective gloves or use a pair of pliers to help turn the valve. Make sure that you turn the valve very slowly and apply an even amount of force to avoid potential damage.
Once you have successfully cut off the water supply, you can begin whatever plumbing work that needs to be completed. If you are in the midst of a plumbing emergency, such as a burst water pipe, call an emergency drainage plumber right away.
On Your Property
To shut off the water supply going to your property, you first need to inform your state’s government water agency. Reasons that are deemed acceptable are:
- You have a plumbing emergency and the water shut off is failing.
- The pipe running between the street shut off and your property is leaking.
- The main shut off valve needs to be replaced.
After you have notified your government water agency, you can then go about locating the shut off valve. As mentioned earlier, the property shut off valve is most often found at the front of a property under a council cover plate. You can remove the cover plate by prying it open with a screwdriver, or if it’s loose enough, simply lift it off.
The valve will have a small handle. It may be a T-shaped handle, a single handle (as in the case of ball valves) or be wheel-shaped (if it’s a gate valve). All you have to do is turn the valve clockwise as far as possible to ensure it is closed.
Again, if turning the valve proves difficult, you can use a screwdriver or pliers to help (whichever applies to the type of valve you see). If the valve won’t budge, definitely do not try to force it. Instead, call a licenced plumber such as Tunnel Vision for assistance.
If you only need to turn off the water supply to a fixture, for instance, if your kitchen mixer tap is leaking, the process is certainly easier. The majority of household fixtures will have a dedicated shut off valve located nearby or within cabinetry.
Once you find the shut off valve, all you need to do to cut off all water going to the fixture is to turn it clockwise. If your mixer tap or shower has two valves (one valve each for hot and cold water), make sure you close both off.
When you need to shut off the water flowing to your water heater, look for the valve located on a pipe above your system and shut it off the same way. Again, if you have a hard time turning a valve, use work gloves to protect your hands as you apply more force.
If it won’t budge, see if using a wrench will help. If you’re still unable to turn it off, get in touch with a professional plumber such as Tunnel Vision to close the valve for you.
Get in Touch With the Experts at Tunnel Vision
The water main is a plumbing fixture that you will most likely not interact with much, however, there are situations where you may need to use it to cut off the water supply to your home.
We can also provide a variety of other plumbing services, including unblocking drains and sewers, pipe relining, tree root control and many more. Give us a call on 1800 631 799 or book an appointment online!