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sarahsugs's avatar

Help! My shower won't turn off!

Asked by sarahsugs (2893points) January 3rd, 2012

For a while my shower has been dripping. In order to get it to stop dripping we had to turn the handles really hard (I know this is bad, but it was either that or listen to a dripping shower all night). Just now when I went to turn off the hot water, it gushed suddenly instead of slowing down, then when I turned the handle more it slowed, but now the handle is as tight as I can make it and the water is still completely ON! It’s running at about half its normal pressure – i.e., WAY more than just a drip! What do I do? Is there a way to turn off the water at its source somewhere? Tomorrow I can call a plumber but it’s 8:30 at night! Ack!

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18 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

If you can find the shut off valve for the house you could do that but then you wouldn’t have water anywhere. I’d fill up a couple of buckets and then shut the water off to house and call a plumber.

Randy's avatar

Yeah, you need to shut off the water to your house. If you don’t, your water bill will be outrageous. If it’s the hot water, you’re electric or gas bill will be too because your water heater will keep trying to heat the small amount that’s going through it. Call a plumber asap or you can fix it yourself. Plumbing isn’t as complex as some people tend to think. Either way, your best bet is to shut it down for the night.

WestRiverrat's avatar

There should be a shutoff valve somewhere. Look at the water heater first, if you are lucky the plumber installed shutoff valves for the tank. If not, you will probably have to crawl under the house and find the valve that shuts off water to your meter.

When I built my house I made them put in shutoff valves for all the sinks, stools and the shower.

filmfann's avatar

The water heater should have a shut off valve. If the problem is the hot side, that should do it.

tranquilsea's avatar

Our shut off is half way across the house from our hot water tank.

CWOTUS's avatar

Shut the water off at the main. You can turn it on again any time to get some cold water for flushing toilets and other uses, but shut off that water, because the hot water is costing you extra.

Later, with more time, you can shut off the outlet from the hot water heater. (Don’t shut off the inlet – where the cold water enters – because then as the hot water is taken off you risk exposing the heating elements in an electric heater and burning them up, or collapsing the tank.)

If you can find a shut-off for the hot water to the tub, that is if you have such an “isolation valve” then you can turn that off and resume using the rest of the house water system normally.

sarahsugs's avatar

Wow, thanks everyone. It is the hot faucet, so I’m going to look at the water heater for the shut-off valve. I also have a call into an emergency plumbing service who is coming within the hour.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If the hot water heater doesn’t have a shut off valve, shut off the water at the meter. You will be surprised at how much water you can lose in a short period of time.

tranquilsea's avatar

And if you’re on a water meter like I am that can add up.

Judi's avatar

Do you have 2 separate handles for hot and cold or just one? Can you access the wall directly behind the shower? Sometimes there is an access panel back there with a shut off valve.

sarahsugs's avatar

Hm…..the water heater has a clearly labeled “pressure release valve”—wrong thing. There’s a faucet handle high up on one of the pipes coming out from the top of the water heater – unlabeled. I turned it all the way in both directions but nothing happened. Then I decided I shouldn’t be turning random faucets where hot water is concerned so I put it back where it was and left.

I can’t see any shut-off valve for the water meter. Probably it is under the house, accessible only by a pitch black 2-foot dirt-floor crawl space and I am way too much of a wimp to go under there looking for a valve that I probably wouldn’t recognize anyway. I’m just turning off lights (as long as I’m wasting water I might as well save electricity) and hoping the plumber comes soon.

@Judi, there are 2 separate handles but they are set into a tiled marble wall and I can’t get behind it. :(

WestRiverrat's avatar

What is on the other side of that tile wall, a bedroom or closet? There may be an access panel there.

Judi's avatar

I hope your plumber gets there soon. At least set your water heater to vacation mode so you will stop spending money to heat it. When turning a valve, remember, lefty loosey, righty tighty. Your valve could be rusted out or you could have been turning a gas valve.
When the plumber gets there, as him to show you where the shut off valves are (so you’ll know for future reference. ) if they are inaccessible, you might want to consider asking him to bid putting a shut off valve where you can get to it. These things are stressful.

CrammaDoodle's avatar

Happened to me once if you have a turn nob pop the top off and all uou have to do is re tighten the screws because over time they become loose. I mean, i don’t know if thats the same problem but i thought I’d share. Good luck! If thats the problem it works instantly!

CrammaDoodle's avatar

Referring to the knob in the shower as well.* should have mentioned that! Haha.

ZEPHYRA's avatar


CWOTUS's avatar

Just in case this is still a problem… because I know that plumbers never come when you need them most…

Electric water heaters normally have a cold water inlet and hot water outlet located at the top of the tank. If they aren’t labelled, you can usually tell which is which simply by feeling them. Be careful as you approach any pipe when you don’t know its temperature.

Closing either valve will shut off the flow through the water heater, but shutting the hot (outlet) valve is safest. Shutting that valve will not harm the heater in any way. As long as there is water in the heater it can remain energized (turned on electrically). You can always flip the switch to the heater, too, either on the heater itself if there is one there or at the fuse / breaker box for the house. If you can’t turn off the water for some reason, at least de-energize the heater.

If you have oil heat and included hot water from the furnace, then the only instruction that would apply from above is “you can always turn off the valve at the outlet of the water heater”. That won’t cause a problem to the heater. (However, if the valve has never been operated, then it could expose new problems in the valve operation. The valve could leak if it’s old and unused – just as you’re finding in the tub.)

Hopefully your problem is already resolved by now.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s late on this but if it happens again here’s how to stop it. Look at your shower and see where the water comes out of the head. On the outside wall of the shower there should be three pieces of wood framing a box at the base of the wall. That’s the access panel and the wood pieces come off. The wallboard should be cut out under the wood. Remove it and you should find valves to turn off the hot and cold water to the shower. Yry to be careful removing the wood so you don’t mark up the wallboard.

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