Plumbing Emergencies


  • 1. Where is the main water shutoff valve inside the house?
old water shut off

Old style water shut off

New Water Shut off

New style quarter turn valve

If there is a leak in a water supply pipe, you will want to turn off this valve FAST to prevent flooding in the house. Usually you can find this valve upstream of the water meter, in the basement at the front of the house. If this valve is really old or seized, it may not work, or worse, break or leak itself. Get a plumber to remove the old one and install a new one.

City Water Valve

City Water Valve in sidewalk

Sometimes the pipe can fail or be broken upstream of the main inside shut off valve, in which case the city supply has to be turned off.  Usually this valve is outside of the house in your lawn or sidewalk. Typically only the city can operate this valve.

      • 3. Where are the shutoffs for water fixtures?

If a fixture such as a toilet or faucet leaks, you can shut off the water supply to just the one fixture, if valves are installed for it. Sometimes they are not, which is a pain because then you have to shut off the water for the whole house to fix the problem.

Toilet water shut off

Toilet water shut off

        • 4. Who do I call if a pipe breaks inside the house?

Make sure you have the number handy of a plumber who does 24-7 emergency calls. Good idea to put it on your fridge, and on your phone.

      • 5. Who do I call to shut off the city water?

In Toronto, Dial 311 if you can’t shut the water off in your house from the inside. Tell them you have a plumbing supply leak emergency and you need the City to come and shut off the valve right away. Ask them how long it will take, and make sure you call a plumber too.

      • 6. Where is the basement drain?
Basement Drain

Basement Drain

Find the drain in your basement. It’s possible it has been covered with flooring. Keep it uncovered. If you have a water leak while you are away, the water needs to drain out.


A Meticulous Home Inspection includes a guided tour to show you the important features, like water shutoff valves, and drains in your home.