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If you have ever gone camping for a weekend, you know it doesn’t take long to miss running water, flushing toilets, clean clothes, and hot showers. These modern conveniences are the benefits of plumbing systems.

Your house has several separate plumbing systems. Water-supply pipes bring pressurized water from the water utility or a well to your house, where it is piped to sinks, toilets, washers, bathtubs, and related fixtures. Larger pipes drain waste and vent sewer gases. And many homes have piped-in natural gas for gas-burning appliances such as dryers and furnaces.

In an emergency, you should know how to turn water off quickly before it ruins floors and walls. The main shutoff valve is located either outside where the main water supply enters, or just inside—particularly in cold climates. Turn the valve clockwise to shut it off. Call your utility company if the problem involves a valve between the street and the house.