Cooling And Heating
Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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When making plumbing repairs or replacing a device that uses your home's water, it's important to know how to turn off the hot water supply. There are at least three separate places that you can do this, depending on your home's plumbing. It's also good to note that with some devices, you can turn off the hot water right at the device itself. This shouldn't require any tools, more often than not, so just about anyone can do it!
You can turn off the hot water supply at the appliance, the water heater, or the main shutoff valve.
Let's talk a bit more about that, shall we?
This is best when you notice that you've got a sink dripping or a toilet overflowing. Really, if you notice a leak at any device, you should know how to do this. Here's a list to show you how to locally turn off the water to troubleshoot individual devices:
As a note, some homes have branch valves that control the water to a whole room or series of devices. These are generally located along the main branch pipes and are in utility areas.
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If you need to make repairs to your hot water heater or have found a leak along the hot water line, this is what you'll want to find. Water heaters have two shutoff valves; one for cold water, one for hot. These are often colour-coded (red and blue for hot and cold, respectively).
While you may only need to turn off one for what you're doing, it's generally best to just turn them both off to ensure you don't get water running through the pipes as you're working. To shut off cold or hot water at the water heater, simply locate the properly coloured handle and turn it so it's fully off. This will generally have it perpendicular to the pipe itself.
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This is where you go when there's a leak in the main branch line or you can't find another shutoff valve that's a bit more local. The main supply valve is generally tucked away somewhere harder to reach, so it won't be quite as easy, but that's okay. If it was out in the open, it would get bumped all the time, leading to more confusion as to why you don't have hot water.
To locate the main supply shutoff valve, look for a utility space near where the main line enters your home. It could also be located in the house end of your water meter. Because this valve isn't used nearly as much, it may be a bit difficult to open - that's okay. Give it a bit more elbow grease and effort and you should get it done.
Once you've shut the main off, you need to do one thing to drain standing water. Locate the physically highest and lowest faucets in your home (in the basement and top floor, for example). Open them up and allow all of the standing water left to drain out. This ensures that your pipes are completely devoid of water, preventing unwanted spills while working.
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This should be the last stop to turn off the water, if only because you don't want to go outside if you don't have to. Locate your water meter box and you should see two valves; one on the "city" side of your meter, and another on the "home" side. Keep in mind that some areas have laws banning you from touching the "city" side of the water meter as the pipes outside of your home technically belong to the city.
This will be very obvious (two valves, turn the one closest to your home). Only use this as a last resort if you can't locate or use any other shutoff valves.
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Shutting off water in your home is, theoretically, rather easy. It only takes a single turn of a valve, but the hard part is finding the valve. Be sure to work your way from local to "big picture" valves for shutoff. In other words, if you're working on a leaking faucet, don't shut off the water at the main or water meter - use the faucet's local shutoff.
And if you're ever unsure of where to look, work your way back (as much as you can), following the pipes from your main supply. This will help you pinpoint all other valves for future use, and should simplify your job at least a bit.
Read Next: How to fix your hot water when it runs cold.
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