How to shut off a water meter

Updated February 21, 2017

Before closing your home for the winter season or performing major plumbing repairs, the building's water supply and water meter must be shut off. Finding and operating a main water supply valve is easy and requires few, if any, tools. Whether you're a landlord or a novice plumber, you'll benefit from knowing how to cut off a water supply and stop a water meter from running.

Locate the structure's main water supply shut-off valve. Although a water meter is property of the utility provider and tampering with it is often illegal, cutting off the building's entire water supply causes the water meter to stop running and accruing charges. Search the area surrounding the water meter, looking for a round knob or straight handle attached to water supply pipes. If the water shut-off valve is not located near the water meter, look around the entire perimeter of the house. If the valve is not located around the building's exterior, search inside the basement or utility closet. Occasionally, main shut-off valves are buried within utility boxes at a property's edge.

Turn the shut-off valve's handle to the "off" position. For knob-operated valves, twist the knob clockwise until it rests in a fully closed position. For handle-operated valves, turn the handle so that it rests at a position perpendicular to the water supply pipes. If in doubt, examine the valve for text or arrows which indicate the proper direction. Use a rag to grip sticky or corroded valves.

Check interior plumbing fixtures to ensure that the water supply is shut off. Open faucets or spouts and allow the water contained in the plumbing system to drain from the pipes. If the water flow slows to a drip, the water supply is shut off.

Look at the water meter to confirm that it is no longer running. If the water meter is still running, you may have shut off a part of the property's water supply, but not the main water supply. Search the property for additional valves or, if in doubt, contact your utility provider for suggestions concerning the location of your home's main shut-off valve.


Do not tamper with water meter parts or break the seals on a water meter box; utility providers often impose hefty charges for destruction of property.

Things You'll Need

  • Rag
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About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.