Top 5 DIY Plumbing Fixes Every Homeowner Should Know

Shutoff valve in copper for cutting off water.

Plumbing Fix #1: How to Shut Off the Water

At the top of every homeowner’s DIY plumbing list is knowing how to turn the water on and off to your house as well as the individual plumbing fixtures in it. Turning off the water is the first step in stopping a leak or making other plumbing repairs, so it’s important locate the main water shutoff valve to your home now before you need it.

Turning Off All the Water in Your House

To turn off all the water to your house, locate the main water shutoff valve, which is usually found at the water meter. Most water meters are buried in the ground near the street and have a concrete cover, though some may be mounted on the side of the house.

Water meter.

Water meter.

If you can’t find the water meter, call your local utility company and ask for help locating it. Once you’ve found the meter, remove the cover, and turn the shutoff valve 90 degrees with a water meter cutoff key to turn off all the water in your house. In a pinch you may be able to turn the valve with an adjustable wrench if you can't find a cutoff key.

Some houses may also have a secondary main shutoff valve located in the basement or where the water main enters the house that can be used to turn off all the water in your home.

Read our article on How to Check a Water Meter to find out more.

Turning Off the Water at Plumbing Fixtures

Shutoff valve under sink.

Shutoff valve under sink.

In many cases you don’t have to turn off all the water to the house to repair a plumbing fixture, such as a sink faucet or toilet. Instead, you can close the shutoff valve located below the fixture by turning it clockwise to turn off the water to just that fixture.

Bathtubs and showers may not have shutoff valves, and if they do they can be harder to find. Look for access in the wall or closet that backs up to the tub or shower to see if the water lines have shutoff valves. If a plumbing fixture doesn’t have a shutoff valve, you’ll need to turn off all the water to the house before repairing it.

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8 Comments on “Top 5 DIY Plumbing Fixes Every Homeowner Should Know”

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  • Penelope Smith Says:
    November 2nd, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    This is some really good information about plumbing. I liked what you said about when you do have plumbing issues you should turn off your water. That is a good thing for me to know because I am about to purchase my first home.

  • Mike Says:
    August 1st, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    You refer to a hot water heater……. Is it not a cold water heater?
    Or better yet just a water heater!

  • David Says:
    February 4th, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    What a good read this was, having been working with some of the best plumbers in La Mesa, CA, I can say with confidence that all of the tips that you gave is what I’m sure any professional plumber would agree. Knowing how to turn off the water heater is very important and giving problems. The best thing would turn it off and have a licensed professional inspect the water heater for any damages or malfunction. Water heater repair is very common in residential plumbing.

    All of the tips were great!

  • Frank Black Says:
    March 9th, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    sometimes in winter my bathrooms cold water freeze up and nothing comes out until the weather get a little warmer what is the main cause even my toilets freeze up the kitchen water always works why? thank you

  • Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    February 3rd, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, glad to hear you enjoy our monthly newsletter!

  • Robert Sotak Says:
    February 3rd, 2014 at 10:32 am


    I’m 86 years old and unable to do most of the jobs at home anymore but I enjoy very much reading your emails. If they apply to our grown children and their families, I send the emails to them or discuss the projects with them. Thanks for the good that you do.


  • Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    December 16th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Hi Joe,
    That’s called water hammer, and it’s caused by the sudden change in pressure when you turn off the faucet. It can be prevented by installing a water hammer arrester or water expansion tank in the water line near your hot water heater. Watch our video on How to Prevent Water Hammer in Pipes to find out more.

  • Joe Amichia Says:
    November 30th, 2013 at 6:13 am

    please, can you help me to fix my plumbing problem due to when I shut or cut off any of FAUCET at my home I hear some loud noise on or in PIPES.

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Top 5 DIY Plumbing Fixes Every Homeowner Should Know