August 11, 2021

Your Guide to Emergency Shut-off Procedures


Knowing how to shut off the water, gas or power in your home or business during an emergency can save you thousands of dollars in damages and repairs. Emergency shut off valves and switches are easy to use once you know where they are.

Don’t wait until a natural disaster or home emergency sends you scrambling to find your shut-off valves. Learn all you need to know with our quick guide to emergency shut-offs for our Denver, Boulder and Longmont home and business owners.

Emergency Water Shut-off Procedures

Tornados, snowstorms, broken sewer lines and plumbing failures are all reasons you may need to shut off your water supply. During cold Colorado winters, frozen pipes can burst, causing substantial damage. Whatever the emergency, prevent streams of water from flowing across your floors by locating your main water shut-off valve and turning off the water supply. There are two ways to do this:

  • Turn off the water where it enters the house. Locate your shutoff valve in your basement. You’ll see a pipe coming through your foundation near the front of your home or business. This is the water supply line. The shut off valve is the knob or handle along this line and often at eye level.
  • Shut off the valve at your water meter. You can shut off your water supply at the meter box via the valve inside. Locate the box in the ground at your property line. Remove the lid and turn the valve – you may need a meter key to do this. They’re available at most hardware stores.

Two Types of Shut-off Valves

There are two common varieties of shut-off valve: gate valves and ball valves.

Gate Valves are the round-handled valves, like you use to turn on your hose. Simply tighten the knob all the way clockwise to shut your water off. If your valve is stuck, try oil, a wrench or heat to get it moving. Be careful not to bend or break the pipe it’s attached to.

Ball or lever-type handlessimply require a one-quarter clockwise turn to shut off your water. When the handle is perpendicular to the pipe, the valve is closed.

If you don’t have a main water shut off, have one installed by a professional plumbing company. It may come in handy someday.

Gas Shut-Off Procedures 

If your home loses power during a natural disaster, do not turn lights on or off or use matches if you have gas heat or appliances. This is crucial! Many home fires are ignited by gas leaks in the aftermath of a storm.

Open your doors and windows to vent the accumulated gas and, most importantly, get out of the house. You do not want to be near a gas leak; leave it to the professionals to fix the problem.  

Signs of a gas leak include: 

  • A hissing sound 
  • The smell of rotten eggs 
  • White mist or fog around your property 
  • Dead plants in your garden 

Electrical Emergency Shut-Off Switch

In the event you need to shut off the electricity to your home or business, locate your electrical panel (also known as a breaker box or fuse box). This is the metal cabinet that contains all your circuit switches. It is where the power supply enters your building.

Sometimes electrical panels are in the basement, sometimes they are in the garage or mounted on an outside wall.

Inside the breaker box are columns of switches. Each of these diverts power to a certain section of your home or business. At the top of the box is a larger or double switch that is your main shut-off. Flip this to turn off all power. Remember a flashlight, you’ll be in the dark momentarily and never remove the metal cover as this is added protection from sparks and shorts. 

For All Your Emergency and Non-Emergency Needs

Get peace of mind during any situation from the plumbing, heating and electrical experts at Applewood. On every service call, we will provide visible orange valve tags to identify your shut-off valves and save time and chaos in the middle of an emergency.

Contact the professionals at Applewood today for assistance in re-lighting pilot lights, repairing leaks, opening shut-off valves, and more! We take care of Colorado homes and buildings.

Call  303-328-3060