A stopcock is your mains water tap (the off switch). Everyone should know where theirs is, especially at this time of year when pipes can burst due to frost. If you don’t know where yours is, your house could be flooded with water everywhere, while you have no idea how to stop it.
Update 10 October 2017. This blog post was first written way back in 2012 – but the way you find your stopcock hasn’t changed…
Damage from burst water pipes is a massive cause of home insurance claims (see the Cheap Home Insurance guide), so the main aim of this blog is simply to ask:
WHERE’S YOUR STOPCOCK?”
Finding your stopcock
In my house it’s under the kitchen sink, a very common place to find it. Yet that’s the indoor valve, many homes also have an outdoor one.
To help you locate yours, check out this video from Thames Water.
Plus, to give you inspiration, here’s where some people found their stopcocks:
At the back of a tiny cupboard next to the bathroom. Had a special long-handled stopcock turner-offer made.”
Heaven knows. That’s why I have a husband. Hehe.”
We’re in flats. Ours is in the shared corridor and turns off a few.”
Mine’s in my pantry near my boiler.”
Mine is in the bathroom at the side of the bath. V. strange.”
Ours is next to the front door, behind a screwed-on panel! Great in case of emergencies (not).”
In our area, the stopcock is in the front room next to the fireplace, so another place to find them.”
Mine’s underneath the oven – we have to lie on our stomach and wriggle to reach it!”
Behind the sink in the bathroom.”
Some people may have a posh stopcock button, rather than a turntable valve.”
Under the floorboards in the dining room.”
A few tips on checking your stopcock
Stopcocks should be turned a couple of times a year to minimise ‘seizing’ due to scale. And NEVER open fully, or they’re more likely to jam.”
As I already don’t participate in Xmas, I mark Xmas Day each year to test ALL stopcocks and tap connections within the house.”
Don’t forget to insulate outside taps! We didn’t last year and… bang! One exploded pipe.”
I fitted a device called a Surestop, turns off your water with just a press of a button.”
Don’t just locate it, check that it still turns – mine required use of pliers to get it moving.”
Modern stopcocks are a large on/off switch sited on the incoming main water supply – DO NOT TURN IT.”
If your stopcock isn’t working, you may want to call a plumber now – before you have a problem.
Please post your stopcock tips below.
PS. I was very careful with my keyboard and the blog title – a couple of typos and this could mean something very different. Would’ve been great for online search rankings though!