How to Find Shut-Off Valve For Outdoor Faucet
Why do you need to know where the outdoor faucet shut-off valve is? Well, there are a few reasons that you might need to find it. Maybe there are cold temperatures in the forecast and you want to make sure your outdoor hose bib doesn’t freeze and crack like this very sad and broken brass shut-off valve:
Or maybe it is the exact opposite. Maybe you purchased your home over the winter and the outdoor faucets had already been drained to prevent potential freeze damage. Now that the temperatures have warmed up, you need to water your dry plants or wash your car.
But, alas! When you open the hose spigot outside, you get no water. We’ll need to find the shut-off valve quickly, before your garden starts to look like this:
Hopefully you are searching for this article for one of those reasons, and not because you currently have an active leak in your outside faucet. That would not be ideal for you, because if the leak is before the hose spigot itself and does not stop after you turn off the hose bib, you will need to go inside and find and turn off the outdoor faucet’s shut-off valve.
How to Find Shut-Off Valve for Outdoor Faucet?
Regardless of the reason, we need to find the shut off valve for your outdoor faucet, so let’s get to work. There is no uniform, guaranteed area where you will find your hose bib’s shut-off valve. It will depend on where the builder or plumber was able to connect to the main water pipe for your whole house.
Do you have a basement? If so, that will be a good place to start. Let’s head downstairs.
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It’s possible that you will get lucky and will find that the shut-off valve has been labeled by a previous homeowner (or the builder or a plumber who has serviced the system). If so, the label will probably say something like “hose” or “hose bib” or “outdoor faucet” or “spigot”.
Often, you are looking for an unfinished section of your basement. In newer homes, builders are generally pretty efficient in putting most valves in the same area.
If you are dealing with an older home, or if the whole basement is unfinished, you can start by looking at the inside wall on the opposite side of the outdoor hose spigot. You may just see the valve right there.
Or, if instead of drywall, your basement ceiling has drop tiles, you can try to remove a drop tile or two and look up in the ceiling to see if the shut-off valve for your outdoor faucet is up there somewhere.
If you don’t have a basement, your hose spigot’s shutoff valve may be in your crawl space.
If you don’t have a crawl space and you don’t have a basement, do not despair! We still have some options. I have seen hose bib shut-off valves in a cabinet under the kitchen sink. Or it could be in the back of a closet.
Out of ideas? Do you know where your main water shut-off valve for the whole house’s water supply is? If so, your hose bib shut-off valve might be in that area.
If your basement is finished and you did not find the shut-off valve near your whole house water main shut-off valve, it may be in a dry-wall cut out that has crown moulding trim. It could be that the valve was accessible when the basement was unfinished, but then drywall was added later, so the contractors needed to put the valve in a box with a hinge, so that it could be accessed.
It is also possible that your hose is connected to your irrigation system. In that case, as long as your irrigation mainline is on, you should have water running to the spigot. And if the irrigation shut-off valve is turned off, then the hose bib will not have water.
If you still can’t find it, you could try checking any documents that the previous homeowner left for you. Or if you or the previous homeowner have a regular plumber or handyman that you have hired over the years, it could be worth checking with them. They may have notes on your account that indicate where the shut-off valve is located. Or they might just remember having seen something on one of their previous visits to the home.
What Does my Water Shut Off Valve Look Like?
As far as what the hose bib shut-off valve itself will look like, they are usually fed by ½” lines. Depending on when your house was built, it may be a brass valve connected to a copper line. Or you may be looking for PVC or CPVC pipe. Just in case you are unfamiliar, copper is an orange-ish/brown metal pipe like this:
PVC pipe is white plastic. And a PVC ball valve sometimes look like this:
And CPVC is a yellowish/off-white/cream-colored plastic pipe.
How to Turn Your Water Back On
If the shut-off valve is currently off and you would like to use the outdoor faucet, you will need to turn the shut-off valve on to get water to the hose outside. The method of turning the shut-off valve on will depend on whether your shut-off valve is a ball valve or a globe valve.
Before you turn the shut-off valve on, go to the hose bib outside and make sure that the hose bib is turned off. Because if you go downstairs and turn the hose bib’s shut-off valve on without closing the outside hose first, it will start pouring water out of the faucet outside.
Ball Valve vs Globe Valve
Okay, once you have closed the hose outside and you are inside your home in your basement at the shut-off valve, you now need to determine if you have a ball valve or a globe valve. If you are dealing with a ball valve, the valve is off when the handle is perpendicular with the pipe itself. And the shut-off valve is on when the handle is parallel with the pipe.
To turn a ball valve on, you would simply apply light pressure to the handle of the shut-off valve (looks like a tongue depressor) and turn it from the 90 degree position to the 180 degree angle, so that it is now parallel with the pipe itself.
A globe valve is a round valve that looks like a hose valve itself. If you are dealing with a globe valve, the way to open it is to turn the handle counter-clockwise. Always remember: Righty tighty! Lefty loosey!
How to Winterize Outside Taps
First things first. If your hose is currently connected to your outdoor faucet/hose bib, go ahead and disconnect it.
If you are trying to shut off the hose bib for the winter, then you will want to do the opposite of what we have just outlined. Turn off the inside shut-off valve for the outside hose.
Then go outside and open the hose bib to drain the water out of the hose bib. Unfortunately, if it is already well below freezing, the hose bib might be frozen closed. So, be sure to get this done before the temperatures drop!
After you have opened the outdoor faucet to drain the water out, turn the faucet back off.
The last step is to drain the hose bib pipe down in the basement, if there is a bleeder valve cap on the shut-off valve. Grab a bucket and an adjustable wrench. Gently unscrew the bleeder cap with the wrench.
Then finish unscrewing it with your hand and let the water drain into the bucket. And be careful with the bleeder cap while it’s off! Don’t drop it in the litter box or down the sink. Because if you do, retrieving it will be annoying and gross.
Once the remaining water from the pipe has drained into your bucket, screw the bleeder cap back onto the shut-off valve. If you do not replace the bleeder cap and you turn the shut-off valve back on, water will spray everywhere. So, be sure to replace the bleeder cap when you are finished draining the remaining water in the pipe.
You did it! You found your outdoor faucet’s shut-off valve. And then you either opened or closed the valve, depending on what you were trying to accomplish. Nice work!
You can also pick up and use an outdoor hose bib faucet cover. Though turning off your hose faucet’s shut-off valve and draining down the pipe is the safest way to prevent freeze damage over the winter. A hose faucet cover will help to insulate your faucet, and can also help prevent freeze damage.
No Shut Off Valve for Outside Faucet
One other thing I will mention is that it is entirely possible that your hose bibb or outside spigot does not have a shut-off valve. Unfortunately, builders and plumbers can sometimes rely too much on “frost free” or “frost-proof” hose bibs.
It is a nice idea that temperatures will never get cold enough to freeze the outdoor faucet, but unfortunately mother nature does not mess around, and it is entirely possible that the temperatures will eventually get cold enough to freeze the hose bibb; or that the hose bib will malfunction and it will freeze anyway.
If you are concerned, you can always either insulate your hose bib, or contact a plumber to see if it is possible to add a shut-off valve inside somewhere, so that you can take all possible precautions and close and drain the outdoor faucet.
Abbreviated directions for learning how to find shut off valve for outdoor faucet:
- If you have a basement, check down there first.
- If you have an unfinished part of the basement with other shut-off valves, this would be a good place to start.
- It could be near the main, whole-house water shut-off valve. Often, the hose pipes tee off of the main water pipe near where it enters the home. So, if you know where your shut-off valve for the house is, this is a good place to start looking.
- Look on the opposite side of the wall where your hose is. Sometimes, the hose bib shut-off valve is just on the other side of the wall, in the basement.
- If you don’t have a basement, try checking your crawl space.
- If you still can’t find it, try looking for drywall cutouts that contractors may have left when they were finishing rooms or the basement. Sometimes they use crown moulding to “frame” the drywall cutout.
- Try looking in the back of closets or possibly under kitchen or bathroom sinks. Especially if your home is older, builders seemed to get very creative and just stick the valves wherever they could.
- If you have an irrigation system, it is possible that your outdoor faucet is connected to the irrigation system. That would mean that if the irrigation water shut-off valve is off, the outdoor faucet would be off also.
- Most outdoor faucet shut-off valves are connected to either copper, PVC, or CPVC pipe.
- Copper: An orangish/brown metal pipe (might have greenish tint)
- PVC: White, plastic pipe (might have blue or clear glue residue around connections)
- CPVC: Yellowish/off-white/cream-colored plastic pipe
- Turn the shut-off valve either on or off, depending on what you need to accomplish.
- The most common type of valves for shut-off valves for outdoor faucets are brass ball valves, PVC ball valves, and brass globe valves.
- Brass ball valve: The valve is off when the valve handle (looks like a tongue depressor) is perpendicular with the pipe. And the shut-off valve is on when the handle is parallel with the pipe. To turn a ball valve ON, you would simply apply light pressure to the handle of the shut-off valve and turn it from the 90 degree position to the 180 degree angle, so that it is now parallel with the pipe itself. To turn off a ball valve, apply light pressure to the handle of the shut-off valve and turn it from the 180 degree position to the 90 degree angle.
- PVC ball valve: The valve is off when the valve handle (usually red) is perpendicular with the PVC pipe. And the shut-off valve is on when the handle is parallel with the pipe. To turn a ball valve ON, you would simply apply light pressure to the handle of the shut-off valve and turn it 90 degrees, so that it is now parallel with the pipe itself. To turn off a PVC ball valve, apply light pressure to the handle of the shut-off valve and turn it 90 degrees the other direction.
- Globe valve: The valve is off when the valve handle is screwed all the way to the right. Or, put another way, the valve is off when the handle has been turned clockwise to the point where it will no longer keep turning. To turn a globe valve ON, you would simply grip the valve handle and screw the valve handle counterclockwise until it is fully open. To turn a globe valve OFF, gently turn the handle of the shut-off valve clockwise until it is fully closed.
4 thoughts on “How to Find Shut-Off Valve For Outdoor Faucet”
New to us house. Our basement was finished with drywall. There was no opening on the ceiling or wall near the faucet. I used a camera and light on a phone to see where the valve was though the neighboring room’s ceiling tiles. Too far away to reach. Maybe 6 feet. I ended up cutting a hole in the ceiling drywall near the faucet shutoff valve. Got the job done. Now I need to buy a cover for the hole.
Sorry it wasn’t accessible, but glad you were able to figure it out and get the job done. It’s always amazing to me when contractors don’t take the time to do things correctly. It wouldn’t have taken much time and effort to install a removable panel, and it certainly would have made your life easier. Nice that you were able to push ahead and find it.
I found the shut off valve for my dripping outdoor faucet – thanks for the tip that it would be a smaller pipe that I would be looking for. However, once I turned it off, while the water does not gush out as normal, it still drips steadily? I don’t see a way to bleed out any water – should I just leave it open for an hour or so? My immediate issue is that I’m afraid this leak has caused some kind of mold damage in my basement walls as I am starting to smell something funky. Thanks again for this article!
Hi Pam! If you just turned off the water, you can give it some time to see if the drip stops. If the drip does not stop, it may be that your shut-off valve for the outdoor faucet is not working properly and is allowing a small, steady leak through. Usually, a drip stops pretty quickly after the shut-off valve is turned off, unless there is a lot of pipe above the outdoor faucet that gravity is draining down through the outdoor faucet. Unfortunately, valves can fail and start to allow some water through. That is too bad that the shut-off valve does not have a bleeder valve because that would help to determine if there is still water in the pipes or if the valve is not functioning properly. Have you double-checked that the valve is completely closed? If so, you may need to call a plumber to have the valve replaced. When you are scheduling the service call, ask the plumbing company if the technician who will come out will be carrying a moisture meter. If so, the plumber should be able to use the moisture meter to detect increased levels of moisture to pin down whether there is a leak/possible water damage behind a wall. I’m assuming the basement is finished? Unfortunately, a funky smell can be an indicator that there is a leak in the walls. A failing shut-off valve is generally a separate issue from an actual leak. It could be that you have both a failing shut-off valve and a leak somewhere. Or, it could be that some water that is leaking from the outdoor faucet/hose bibb is backing up and leaking into the house. Either way, unfortunately it is probably best to get this checked out sooner than later, since the sooner you get the problem checked out, the less likely it will be that mold will be able to grow or spread. So sorry you are experiencing this! And I hope the issue gets resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible!