Shutting off your water supply is an essential part of most repairs made to your plumbing or shower. Without turning off your water, you cannot replace your plumbing, shower cartridge, faucet, or handle.
You will be left with serious water damage when repairing your water system by not turning off your water. This is usually due to a lack of knowledge or carelessness. Without the basic understanding of how to shut off your water supply, DIY jobs in the bathroom will be out of your reach.
Each water system is a little different depending on whether you have a shower valve and if you live in a home, apartment, or mobile home. We will cover all the possible locations of your water shut-off valve regardless of what type of home you live in. Additionally, we will go step-by-step, showing you how to turn off your water supply.
Do All Showers Have a Shut-Off Valve?
Most of the time, showers do not have their own shut-off valve. Shut-off valves are more common with toilets and sinks, although your shower may have one in rare cases.
Having a shower shut-off valve is a bit of a luxury as it allows you to turn off the water to your shower and make your repairs without taking away water for the entire house.
If you are in the process of remodeling or building your home, you have the option to put in a shower shut-off valve.
Can I Turn Off the Water to Just My Shower?
There are two main ways to turn off the water to just your shower. First, screwdriver stops, integral stops, or valve stops are screws located behind your shower handles cover plate on your shower valve. When these screws are tightened, they will close off your shower valve, allowing water to flow elsewhere in your home but blocking off your shower.
The only other way to turn off the water to just your shower is to use a shower shut-off valve. As stated previously, these shower-specific shut-off valves are not common, and if your valve does not have screwdriver stops, your only other option is to use your main shut-off valve, which turns off water for the entire home.
Where Is the Water Shut-Off Valve for a Shower?
There are a few places the main water shut-off valve could be in a house. Sometimes you can find the valve outside.
These valves are usually found by following your water meter in a straight line towards one of your exterior walls. Or it may be behind an access panel outside. You can usually find an outdoor valve by circling around the walls of your home.
But other times, the shut-off valve will be inside your home. In this case, they are usually near a bathroom in a utility closet or the basement.
Apartments have varying water systems, and it can sometimes be hard to find the shut-off valve. However, you will find the valve underneath your bathroom or kitchen sink in some cases.
Another common location for an apartment shut-off valve is the communal laundry room. When the valve is located in the laundry room, it is often behind a locked utility closet. If that’s the case, you will need to contact your apartments manager or maintenance personnel in order to have the water turned off.
Mobile homes are built differently than houses or apartments. With mobile homes being lifted off the ground you will usually find the shut-off valve underneath a mobile home. In addition, there are usually two shut-offs found on the main water line running underneath the mobile.
You may also find a shut-off valve near the water heater or outside near the water meter.
How to Turn the Water Off to a Shower
- Allen Wrenches
- Adjustable Wrench
- Flashlight (preferably a headlamp)
- Spray Lubricant (if you have a stuck valve)
For the convenience of everyone living in your home, you should first attempt to shut your shower’s water off through the valve screws or shower shut-off valve. If you have one.
To access the valve, remove your shower handle cover plate.
Some cover plates can be removed through screws, hex bolts, or by simply prying off the plate with a flathead screwdriver.
Once your faceplate is removed, inspect your valve to see if it has valve stop screws. There will always be two of these screws near the top of the valve, one on each side.
Tighten those screws all the way down and test your shower to make sure your water is off. You can use pliers to turn your handles if you have difficulty turning them with the faceplate removed.
If you have no valve screws but do have a shower valve, you can simply turn the valve by hand clockwise until it stops, which will shut off your shower’s water.
If you have neither a shower valve nor valve screws, locate your main shut-off valve and turn it clockwise until it stops and test your water to make sure it stops running.
Shutting off the water to an apartment can be tricky as you may not have access to the water shut-off valve.
Check under your bathroom and kitchen sink. If you find a valve down there, you’re in luck. You can simply turn the valve clockwise to turn off the water in your apartment.
If your apartment has no water shut-off valve, then the matter is out of your hands as you will need to contact management or maintenance in order to have your water turned off.
Usually, management will inquire why you want your water turned off and will demand that any repairs be handled by maintenance.
It is possible that the shower in your mobile home might have its own shut-off valve or valve screw stops.
Check by following the steps outlined in the house section, such as removing your shower’s cover or faceplate, tightening the valve screws, or shutting off the shower’s independent valve.
If your shower does not have its own valve shut-off or screw stops, prepare to get dirty.
Stationary mobile homes should have siding outside that runs across the bottom of the unit. This siding can be removed to give you access underneath the mobile home.
Once you’re ready to go underneath the mobile home, I would suggest wearing some clothes you don’t care much about, and bring a flashlight, preferably a headlamp, to keep your hands free.
When you’re underneath the mobile home, look for the main water line which should be a little larger than the rest of the plumbing and will run across the majority of the mobile home.
Once you locate the main water line, follow it until you find a valve. Then simply close this valve by turning it clockwise by hand.
Most mobiles have two shut-off valves, with each valve shutting off water to a certain section of the home. To be safe, it’s best to shut off both valves.
What if I Can’t Locate a Shut Off Valve or Can’t Turn Off the Water to a Shower?
If you can find your shut-off valve but cannot turn it off, you should call in a professional plumber to help diagnose the issue.
If you simply cannot find your shut-off valve, there are a few options available. If you own your home, the best option is to check the property inspection report completed when you purchased your home. This inspection report will list the locations of many things in your home, including the water shut-off valves.
If, instead, you rent an apartment, maintenance or the manager should know the locations of all water shut-off valves in the complex.