March 2, 2023

How to Shut Off Water and Power During an Emergency

Knowing how to shut off the water, gas or power in your home 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 to find them.

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

Where Is My Emergency Water Shut-off Valve?

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 gushing out across your floors by locating your main water shut-off valve and turning off the water supply. There are two ways to do this:

  1. 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. This is the water supply line. You’ll see an interior water meter and bell shaped pressure valve. The shut off valve is the knob or handle along this line and often at eye level.
  2. Shut off the valve at your exterior 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 so it’s best to plan ahead. They’re available at most hardware stores.

What Does A Water Shut-off Valve Look Like?

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. If you can’t get your valve to budge, call in a professional.

Ball or Lever-type Valves simply 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 can’t find your valve or don’t have a main water shut off, have one installed by a professional plumbing company. It may come in handy someday.

Where Is My Emergency Gas Shut-Off Valve?

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 
  • Dead plants in your garden 

If for some reason you do need to turn off your gas supply, you can find the switch on your gas meter. Look for a small rectangular knob along the corresponding pipe. You may need a wrench to turn it clockwise.

Where Is My Electrical Shut-Off Switch?

A home electrical panel with arrow pointing at 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, usually located in the basement or garage,  that contains all your circuit switches. It is where the power supply enters your home.

Inside the breaker box are columns of switches. Each of these diverts power to a certain section of your home. At the top of the box is a larger or double switch that is your main shut-off. Flip this to turn off all incoming 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 Need

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 so that you can identify your shut-off valves and save time when an emergency occurs. Contact the professionals at Applewood today for assistance in re-lighting pilot lights, repairing leaks, opening shut-off valves, and more! Our local licensed technicians take care of Colorado homes like yours.

Call  303-328-3060

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