In most houses, you can easily turn off water to a bathtub by locating the stopcock or valve shutoff to the bathroom. In some cases, your bathtub might have its own valve shutoff.
However, if you want to turn off the water to your bathtub, you’ll have to start by determining if you have a shutoff valve. From there, you’ll have to find it to turn the water off. If you don’t have one, you can always turn off the bathroom water supply or the water mains.
How to Turn Off Water to a Bathtub
Learning how to turn off water to a bathtub normally starts with finding the water shutoff. Not all bathrooms have one. Therefore, you should always start by checking your water lines.
Check the bathroom for shutoff valves
In most cases, your bathroom will have shutoff valves for the toilet, the sink, and sometimes the shower or bathtub. However, this isn’t always the case. Especially in apartment buildings, you might simply not have a separate shutoff for the shower or bath.
If you’re lucky, there’s a stopcock or shutoff valve just behind the tub. However, you’ll likely need two valves, for the hot water and the cold water.
Check for an access panel
If your tub has a shutoff valve, it’s either at the base of the tub with exposed pipes or behind an access panel. In most cases, the access panel is located either behind the faucet and valves or on the floor. To find that, all you have to do is look for where the pipes enter the floor. However, there are some alternatives such as behind the faucet or valves, on the side of the tub, in the floor at the base of the tub, or even behind the valves in the shower.
In some cases, an access panel might be located on the other side of the wall. That’s especially true if you have a boiler or storage room located directly behind the shower.
If you do find an access panel, simply open it, usually using a flat screwdriver, turn the valves, and you’ve successfully turned the water off.
If you don’t find an access panel, there are some other ways to turn off the water to your bathtub. However, they almost entirely involve shutting off the water to your entire bathroom.
Shutting off the bathroom water supply
In most cases, you’ll find a shutoff valve to the bathroom either in the bathroom or near your water meter. However, this is cold water only.
- At the base of the wall coming into the bathroom
- Behind an access panel in the shower or bathroom
- In the water meter cabinet, separate from the main water shutoff. Here, you’ll want to look for the smaller shutoff. Just make sure the water supply doesn’t go to your hot water heater or boiler as well – you’ll want to shut that off before turning off water to it.
Turning off the hot water
If you don’t have a separate shutoff valve for the hot water, you’ll want to turn water off at the boiler or hot water heater. Depending on how your house or apartment is put together, you’ll either have hot water shutoff valves just under the hot water heater or you’ll have to turn the heater off.
- Check for shutoff valves or stopcocks. These are normally fairly large and visible. However, they might have a small wing-nut style closure. This might be hot to touch, so use gloves. If you have a gate valve, you should always be careful not to break the valve stem.
- If you don’t see a shutoff valve, check the manual for your hot water heater and turn it off following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, you can drain the hot water out of the line by turning on a tap.
Turning off the water mains
If you’re unable to find any specific shutoffs for the bathroom, you can turn off the water mains. Here, you simply want to turn off the gate valve next to your water meter. This might be outside. In addition, in some cities, the mains valve is located under a grate in the front yard. If you have this system, you’ll have to buy a water meter key. Normally these start at around $15 from your local hardware store or from amazon.
Importantly, you may want to turn your boiler or hot water heater off first. If you have a tank-style boiler or hot water heater, that isn’t necessary. Here, your hot water supply will stop working because there’s no cold water to push it out.
If you’re trying to turn off water to the tub, it can be frustrating. Maybe these questions will help.
Why doesn’t my tub have a shut off valve?
Bathtub shutoff valves are not extremely common. They are not required by any building codes. Therefore, some people install them and others do not. That means there’s no consistency in whether or not your tub has its own shutoff valve. You’ll have to check for an access panel to find a valve or turn off the bathroom’s water supply.
In fact, bathtubs and showers are explicitly excluded from mandatory shutoff valve requirements.
How to shut off water to a shower or tub without a valve?
If your tub or shower doesn’t have its own valve, you can always turn off the bathroom water supply or the water mains. In either case, you might want to set some water aside so you can still flush the toilet.
What if my bathtub water won’t turn off?
If your bathtub won’t shut off, it’s likely because the valves or the handle are damaged. However, if it’s the handle you can normally take this off and turn the valve with a large, flat screwdriver. However, if it’s the valves, you’ll want to turn off the water supply to the bathroom or to the tub. From there, you can purchase a new faucet set and replace the valves.
Where is the shutoff valve in a bathroom?
There’s no standard placement for a shutoff valve. In fact, it’s not even always in the bathroom. Common placement options include at the base of the wall on open pipes, under an access panel at the base of the shower or bathtub, behind the faucet, in the water meter closet, or even outside with the water meter.
Building code mandates that any shutoff valve be labeled to the appliance or room it goes to. However, that rarely happens in practice. If you turn a valve off, you may want to double check that it turned off the correct water supply.
Shutting off your bathtub’s water supply might be a simple matter of turning a gate valve. On the other hand, you might have to locate and remove an access panel first. And, worst case scenario, you’ll have to actually turn off water to your house. Either way, hopefully this article helped you learn how to turn off water to your bathtub.