A plumbing emergency can happen at any time, and the key to mitigating the damage to your home’s structure and contents is to know how to stem the flow of water in the event of a major leak or burst pipe. Locating the water shut-off valve can be tricky, so instead of wasting valuable time searching for it in the midst of a serious event, make time to find the main water shut-off and identify the valves located behind your fixtures and appliances before disaster strikes.

How to Find the Water Shut-Off Valve

Use these tips to locate the main shut-off valve for your Charleston-area home:

Scour the Interior Perimeter

Your water main starts at the street and should follow a direct path leading to your home. When searching the interior perimeter, concentrate on the side of your house that faces the street, and focus your efforts at or below ground level. For homes that are built on a slab, the shut-off valve may be positioned in the garage or near the water heater.

Read Your Home Inspection Report

The property inspection report that was generated prior to the purchase of your home contains a wealth of information, including the location of your water shut-off valve. Begin your search in the plumbing section of the document which should outline where the valve can be found and may include a photo of the apparatus.

Look Outside

If the search inside your home is fruitless, the water main valve outside your home is a viable alternative. The main will be located at the edge of your property on the street side, along the boundary between the property line and the road or sidewalk. Look for a metal cover that is flush with the ground and may or may not be labeled as the water meter.

If you need help locating the water shut-off valve for your Charleston-area home or assistance with plumbing issues including emergency plumbing repair, call the experts at Preferred Home Services at (843) 405-3601 or contact us online today! 

How to Turn Off the Shut-Off Valve

Depending on the location and configuration of the valve, you may be faced with one of two types of handles:

Lever-Style Valve

This elongated handle runs parallel to the water pipe in the open position and must be turned one-quarter of the way to run perpendicular in order to stop the flow of water.

Circular-Style Valve

This more traditional round handle should be rotated in a clockwise direction by hand until it can no longer be turned to completely turn off the water.

Street-Side Water Main Valve

Once you have located the metal plate that covers the main valve and meter you will need to determine how to remove it to gain access. Some covers are simple to remove without the need for tools, while others may be fastened shut with a bolt or a mechanism that requires the use of a meter key.

If you are able to remove the metal lid you will likely find two valves located within, one on the street side that may only be accessed by the water company and one on the house side that will have a knob or a nut.

In the event of a plumbing emergency, if you are unable to locate the main water valve or successfully turn it off, contact your local water company or call Preferred Home Services at (843) 405-3601 for emergency plumbing repair. 

Plumbing Fixture Shut-Off Valves

Depending on the source of the leak, it may be quicker and more effective to shut off the water at the fixture rather than stopping service to the entire home. Common areas worth noting include:


If your toilet is overflowing or in need of repair the water supply should be shut off to prevent further or potential flooding. Look behind the fixture to where the supply hose leads out from the wall and locate the valve that is attached. Turn the handle clockwise until there is resistance, being careful not to overtighten.


Turn off the water supply to the sink before performing any plumbing repair or replacing a faucet. The valve handles will be located below the sink and should be rotated clockwise to stop the flow.

Washing Machine

Every washing machine has hot water and cold water supply valves, located behind the machine. In the event of flooding, repair, or replacement, turn both valves clockwise to shut off the water.

Charleston homeowners trust Preferred Home Services for fast, professional plumbing services. Call us at (843) 405-3601 or contact us online today!