Emergency Utility Shutoffs

Generally speaking, modern homes have a variety of safety shutoff devices for water, electricity and gas and/or fuel oil (if present). For safety, each gas device is required to have an individual shutoff. You can save yourself untold damage and dollars if you know how to quickly locate and operate your emergency utility shutoffs. Here are a few suggestions to do just that.

Gas/Fuel Oil Shutoffs

Typically the Main Gas Shutoff Valve is located on the meter pipe outside the house and looks about like the one below. Normally, if the valve is aligned with the pipe it is in the on position. Shutting it off will likely require the use of a wrench or pliers – so have some readily available.


Fuel oil shutoffs are located in a variety of indoor and outdoor locations. Ask your fuel oil supplier to show you where yours is and how to turn it off.

In multifamily units, condos and town homes the meters (and shutoff valves) are often grouped at the end of a multiunit building like this (be sure you know which one is yours – ask the management company/homeowners association, or meter reader):

If you have both gas and electric connections for your dryer and you are an electric dryer – be sure the gas shut off valve is capped, so a toddler can’t open up a simple stopcock valve like this one and fill you house with gas:

Water Shutoffs

Usually newer homes with a public water supply will have an Emergency Water Shutoff in addition to the utility company shutoff. The utility company shutoff is normally co-located with the meter near the street. The residence valve may be a faucet handle (remember - “righty tighty, lefty loosey”)

or a blade valve, often on the outside inlet pipe (aligned with pipe = ON: across pipe = OFF).

sometimes inset into an interior garage wall:

or maybe a closet:

The interior water shut offs are usually in the corner of the house nearest the outside water shutoff at the meter.

Electrical Shutoffs

In recent houses the main electrical shut off is located inside the service panel (usually a gray metal box located on an exterior wall, in the garage of sometimes in an interior closet that houses the circuit breakers). Here’s what the circuit breakers look like with the deadfront cover in place:


The Main Shutoff is centered at the top (sometimes bottom) of the panel and looks like a big light switch on its side. This one has the cover removed for inspection (something you should not do!!!)

Sometimes in multifamily unit buildings the main shut off for an individual unit is located in a common utility room for the entire floor (which may be locked – be sure and check!!), typically nearby the meter and numbered such as this:

or at an outside location typical of condos (again normally labeled with the unit number) such as this:

or sometimes pole-mounted such as this:

Older homes may have plug fuses,

which are normally inserted in a fuse panel somewhat like this:

or cartridge fuses

and a panel more or less like this with its own shutoff (the blue metal loop at the right center) – pull it down to break the contact.

both types often have a manual disconnect knife type switch with a handle that looks something like this:

raise the handle so the metal is not touching to disconnect the circuit.

If you have questions about your main utility shutoffs – ask your utility company, homeowner association or property management company, as appropriate, for help. If you ever have an emergency situation and need to quickly shut off gas, water of electricity – you’ll be glad you did!

Emergency Utility Shutoffs

Generally speaking, modern homes have a variety of safety shutoff devices for water, electricity and gas and/or fuel oil (if present). For safety, each gas device is required to have an individual shutoff. You can save yourself untold damage and dollars if you know how to quickly locate and operate your emergency utility shutoffs. Here are a few suggestions to do just that.

Gas/Fuel Oil Shutoffs < like something looks that handle a with switch knife disconnect manual have often types styloth>

raise the handle so the metal is not touching to disconnect the circuit.

If you have questions about your main utility shutoffs – ask your utility company, homeowner association or property management company, as appropriate, for help. If you ever have an emergency situation and need to quickly shut off gas, water of electricity – you’ll be glad you did!




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