How to Turn off Water to a Toilet-With or without Valve

There are several occasions you may need to shut off water to the toilet. It could be for plumbing repairs, out for the weekend, or during your regular cleaning of the toilet or the water closet. 

If you’re looking to turn off the water supply, begin by locating the shut off valve for that water outlet and proceed to close it. Unfortunately, because of differences in make and architectural designs, some toilets don’t have an immediate shutoff valve. In such a case, you need to look for the main shutoff valve for the house.

As easy as this process sounds, complications may arise such as the valve breaking or getting stuck in between. This is why it’s essential to follow the right guidelines to avoid these hiccups. Below is a detailed guide on how you can turn off the water supply to the toilet with or without a valve.

Methods and Steps to Follow

Before we begin with the steps, let’s first understand the mechanism of shutting off the water.

diagram water supply to toilet tank
Water Supply System

To simply turn off the water supply, you need to close the tap that originally allows access to water in the bathroom area.

This is where the shutoff valve comes in. Most homes will have a shutoff valve within the house to allow you to close the water supply if need be.

The valve is located on plumbing fixtures such as the water pipes. It measures 3/8 or half-inch in diameter and appears as a lever or a round handle.

The valve should be able to turn clockwise to shut it. It should rotate to the end to ensure it’s fully closed. If it’s a lever, it should appear perpendicular to the piping to indicate that it’s shut.

Because people rarely shut off water unless, during certain occasions, the valve may be hard, stuck, or sturdy to operate. This also means the water may not completely shut off because of resistance.

That said, let’s look at three methods you can use to shut off the water supply to the toilet.

Method#1 Closing the Toilet’s Shutoff Valve

  1. Locate the shutoff valve. There are no manufacturers guidelines that indicate the valve should be at a certain position, so begin by looking for it. It could be behind the toilet or close to other plumbing fixtures.
  2. Depending on the type of valve either lever or rounded, turn off the water by pushing the lever down or turning the rounded head clockwise. Don’t apply too much force as it may break. If rusted, use WD-40 to loosen it. Make sure you twist or push to the end.
  3. Go ahead and flush the toilet to confirm the water supply has been shut off. This means water will not refill in the water closet after it’s released into the toilet bowl.
  4. If the water still runs into the water closet, you may need to switch if the main shutoff valve as it means the toilet lever isn’t working effectively.
  5. Once the water is off and you’re done with your activity, twist the head anticlockwise to release water back to the toilet.

Method#2 Turning Off the Main Shutoff Valve

As mentioned above, if the toilet lever fails to close the water, you’ll have to close the main shutoff valve that will cut off the water supply to the entire house including the kitchen and other sinks and bathrooms.

  1. Locate the main shutoff valve. In colder regions, it can be in the basement to prevent the valve from freezing or being unreachable during winter seasons. It could also be outside close to your water meter, especially if you live in warmer regions. If you can’t locate it, seek help from a professional.
  2. The shutoff valve will appear as 1 or 2 “wheel” handles. These are circular handles with finger-sized indentations along the circumference that allow you to get a better grip on them.
  3. Twist one at a time to ascertain which one is for the house as the other could be the water meter. If it’s just one wheel or lever, turn that one clockwise till the end. If they are two, choose the one with the piping connected to the house.
  4. That should cut off the water supply to the entirety of the house.
  5. After you’re finished with your work, twist the lever counterclockwise to allow for water back into the house. Check the toilet’s water closet to confirm the water is filling up.

Method#3 Propping up the Float Lever

If you don’t want the hustle and bustle of locating the shutoff valve, you can simply work the components of the flush to ensure you halt water from filling into the closet again. The aim is to keep the float lever up to keep the ballcock closed.

The ballcock is another type of valve that opens up immediately after a flush. It aims to fill the closet with water again as it awaits the flush. The float lever will guide the water up to a certain point where once it reaches the right level it pushes the ballcock to shut off the water supply.

Here’s how you can do that;

  1. Take the lid off the tank and locate the float. It should be floating on the top of the water.
  2. Flush the toilet. Once you’ve flushed, the float lever will sink to the bottom and rise as the water fills. But because we want to cut off the water supply, we will find a way to keep the float lever at that perpendicular position to keep the valve underneath – shut.
  3. Take a narrow piece of wood and slip it underneath the float lever to keep it upright. The position should be vertical like holding up an end of a table. The bottom of the wood should rest at the bottom of the water tank. Keeping the float lever up will prevent a water refill.

Measurement of the piece of wood is preferably about an inch thick and 2.5 cm shorter than the height of the toilet tank. The right size and height prevent breaking the float lever. You can also choose anything plastic or other material besides a piece of wood.

If you’re finding it hard to find a piece of wood, try using a string. Tie one end of the string to the arm lever that holds the float lever. Close it at a length that keeps the float lever at a straight horizontal position.

Flush the toilet to drain the water into the toilet bowl. This will rest the integrity of the wood or string used to hold up the lift arm. Water shouldn’t get into the toilet tank.

When done with your activity, remove the board or untie the string and allow for water to fill back in.

How to Turn off Water Supply to a Toilet with No Valve

It’s not unlikely for your toilet not to have a shutoff valve. If this is the case for you, you have the two options stated above;

  • You can close the main shut-off valve located outside or indoors in the basement.
  • Devise a way to keep the float lever in the toilet tank in an upright horizontal position.

Follow the guidelines above by turning the main valve clockwise if it’s a red rounded valve and perpendicularly to the tank if it’s a lever.

If both ways don’t work, you can also call a professional plumber to help you shut off the water.

Is it Ok to Turn Off Water to the Toilet?

Yes, the shutting off the water supply in your home is okay. As mentioned earlier, there are several occasions you will need to shut off the water supply to the toilet. Otherwise there will be no need for the lever/ valve.

Following are some scenarios when you will need to turn off the water supply.

  • During plumbing repairs – in case the toilet needs replacement or repairs of components.
  • If water is constantly running causing a flood.
  • When the toilet has leakage from below.
  • During cleaning – the toilet or toilet tank can easily accumulate mold, mildew, and debris. The only way to clean it out is without water.
  • During vacations – the water may begin to leak or overrun when you’re unavailable to fix it. Hence, better safe than sorry.

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