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Imagine you’re at home in the kitchen, cooking dinner and water suddenly starts to pour through the light fitting in the ceiling above your head.

Do you know how to shut off the main water supply into your home?

If you answered yes that’s great. But do your children know?

And yes just in case you were wondering a light fitting is the most common place for water to leak from in the ceiling. The first thing to do is turn off the water and not the electricity supply.

Considering the amount of panicking phone calls we receive every week at Whywait Plumbing from people who have water pouring out of the ceiling or out of a burst tap or from under their sink or from their hot water service I can assure you there is an awful lot of people who don’t know how to turn off their main water supply.

In any Australian home the water supply is one of the most important things that you always expect to be working. After all, a house would not be worth much without a working kitchen sink or toilet or shower. So familiarising yourself, and your family with your water supply system can save you stress, time, money and most of all avoid what can be costly repairs from water damage.

The most critical thing every person who lives in the house should know is where and how to turn off the main water supply.

Finding where is the first step. If your home is on the city water supply which is the greatest majority of homes then there will be a meter that controls the water supply. This is usually located at the front boundary line of your property on either the far left or far right side. In all likelihood it will be in the grass area in the meter box similar to the photo on the right.

Once you locate the meter box you will need to lift the lid to access the meter and the control valve. However do be cautious, as there are almost always spiders and often cane toads living inside.

In all likelihood when you lift the meter box lid you will be confronted by a build-up of sand or silt inside the box which frequently means digging it out to locate the control valve and the meter.

Once you have uncovered the fittings inside the meter box you will see there is only a control valve to turn off the water supply to your home and the actual water meter. Neither of these can be confused for the other.

The control valve is always located away from your house closest to the road or kerb side. Unfortunately it is not a standard valve and will come in a wide variety of configurations. Most common is a lever action ball valve which is simply a quarter turn to isolate the water.

Hopefully there are no problems with the water supply system in your home, but if the situation does arise it is best to be prepared. We therefore recommend you do the following:

  • locate where your meter box is on your property and ensure you work out how to operate the control valve
  • open the lid every month and remove and sand and silt build-up
  • at least every 6 months check that the control valve is turning the water supply off to the whole house
  • make sure every person living in the house knows where and how to turn off the main water supply control valve

If you have any questions about isolating your homes main water supply call Whywait Plumbing or next time you have a plumber from Whywait at your home or business ensure you get all your questions answered on turning off your water.

Finally always remember to turn off your water supply when going away on holiday because nothing will ruin your return home like driving up your driveway to see water pouring out of the garage or front door.

By Gary Mays