This might be a very basic question. But I just bought a new house and it has a valve on the wall outside my house:

enter image description here

I tried to turn the valve to match the hole, both clockwise and counter-clockwise but the water never got shut off inside the house.

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I realized when I turned it, the back nuts are also moving (red circle):

enter image description here

Am I supposed to get a wrench to hold the nuts in place?

Please advise.

  • 7
    Pictured is a gas meter and gas valve. Outside water valves will be underground if your area freezes. Look for a steel cover in the lawn. (Edit: well round cover in the yard, they usually aren’t metal anymore because of remote meter reading technologies)
    – Tyson
    Aug 6, 2018 at 8:37
  • 1
    Sometimes water meter/water shutoff is inside. Generally tho it will be outside in a meter pit. Inside meters are more often found in very old construction.
    – Tyson
    Aug 6, 2018 at 8:54
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    BTW are you turning the water off or on? There should be a homeowners main shut-off inside. The street valve with the meter is generally more often used by the water provider.
    – Tyson
    Aug 6, 2018 at 8:59
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    BTW your combination of "inexperience" and ambition is going to lead you to damage something and maybe injure yourself or someone else. Decades ago I was in that category and I know from personal experience. Think and delay if you are at all doubtful that what you are about to do is necessary or makes sense. Aug 6, 2018 at 11:00
  • 1
    The valve you indicate is the gas shut-off. If you have any gas appliances with a standing pilot light, the pilot may have gone out. If you had wrenched on the nut on the back side, this could have loosened the valve to the point it leaked; the gas company would have had to make an involved service call. Aug 6, 2018 at 11:05

2 Answers 2


The main shutoff for city water in the majority of the Pacific north west is at the curb. If an older home it will be a concrete box with a metal plate the meter reader lifts to read the usage. Clean off the grass and dirt open the plate some times you will need to lift the top off to get to the shutoff. Lift and wiggle using the meter reader hole and you will find the shutoff valve some times covered with a little dirt. Don't jerk up on the cement cover or it may crack/break. If a newer home the box may be green plastic similar removal process. As others have said your photo is of the gas meter& shutoff. Don't feel like a fool you now know where to shut the gas off if you smell gas in the house. Down south of you they recommend a gas wrench to be strapped to the pipe, a few years back the utility was offering cheap stamped ones for 2$ but a crescent or open end wrench will work, this was for earthquake safety since they are saying the big one off shore is due in the next 100 years and you may not be able to find a wrench (night , building damage or other problem) having the wrench at the shutoff could prevent a fire.


the reason this is not turning off your water is because this is your GAS meter!

In Seattle, your water meter is in a concrete vault box out near the street somewhere. the outside of it looks like this:enter image description here

Inside, there is a meter and a valve. Like this: enter image description here

Once you are done, call the Gas company to have them inspect your gas meter now that you have messed with the valve tension. It could be leaking now and very dangerous.

  • I don't think op messed with the valve tension, they asked if they were supposed to hold the nuts on the back side with a wrench, they didnt say that they did. Turning the tab side of the valve will not mess up the spring
    – Matt
    Aug 26, 2021 at 2:27

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