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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Cook

Turn Off Outside Taps for Winter

Shut Off and Drain from October to May  

Step 1:  Locate the Shut Off 

The shut off may be located in one of two areas.  The first place to check is in the mechanical room at the  main water shut off and meter.  This is typically where the shut off will be in homes built after 2001.  The water enters the home through the floor, then there is a main water shut off (turns off all the water  to the home) then a water meter and then a brach just above  that is  typically the exterior hose shut off.

If your home is older then there will be a shut off for each exterior hose (usually two, one front and one in the back yard).  These may be more difficult to find if the basement is finished.  The easiest way is to go outside and find the hose bibs, this is what they look like.

Once you have located them on the outside, go to the basement and look in this same area just inside about one to two feet from the location of the hose outside.  Example:  If the hose outside is next to the front door, go to the basement and look at ceiling level near the front door area.  You should see a shut off like the one in this image.  If you have a drop ceiling, remove a panel to view.  If the ceiling is drywalled look for a removable panel.

Step 2:  Shut Off the Water

It is very important to shut off the water to these taps before temperatures drop below zero.  Water in the pipe may freeze and the lines may break causing leaks and flooding.  To shut off the water simply turn the handle clockwise until it stops.  Some small amount of water may drip from the tap as you do this, this is normal.  If water continues to drip the tap may not be completely shut off.  Ensure the handle is completely closed (clockwise).  

Step 3:  Drain the Pipe

Once you have the water shut off, go outside and open the tap.  A small amount of water should drain out.  Leave the outside tap in the open position.  Return to the basement and open the small drain plug located on the side of the shut off valve (it’s a small nub on the side).  Turn this counter-clockwise to open.  You may need pliers to do this.  Again a small amount of water will drain out, catch it with a small pail.  Once the water stops draining, usually a few seconds later, put the drain cap back on and tighten.  

Go back outside and shut off (clockwise) the exterior hose bibs so you don’t have to do it in the spring when you want to turn the water back on.  

If you have any questions you can call me on my cell phone at 403-909-7600 for advice.  I’m also happy to come out and help you find the shut off if you can’t locate it. 

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1 Comment

Oct 25, 2023

i have no turning valve. ceiling like 3 picture. front of house installed 2022. i have no separate turn off ,found under sink, the valve is screwed down . why is this not easy as i paid a plumber to install. cut a hole in the ceiling in basement the plastic line from outside goes to copper in house , a coupling, but no turn off handle?

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