If you have a serious water leak in your house, you may need to shut off your water source using the stopcock.
The stopcock controls the water coming in to the house from the main water supply so in most cases this will stop the leak, but it will also block the water supply to the entire house.
Shutting the stopcock however may not fix the leak if:
- The leak is actually coming from your neighbours property
- The leak is as a result of ground water coming from a drain (perhaps after heavy rain)
- And if you have a hot or cold water tank and the leaky pipe is fed by them, the entire tank will have to drain before the leak stops
If you turn off the stopcock it is usually also a good idea to turn off your boiler to stop the boiler running dry and getting damaged (although most modern boilers will detect if there is a problem with their water supply).
Before you turn off the stopcock it is a good idea to check if there are any other isolation valves on the pipework you are trying to turn off the water to. Using these valves means you don’t have to turn off the water to the entire house.
Need help finding your Stopcock?
In most houses the stopcock is located under the kitchen sink. To turn off the stopcock simply turn the valve clockwise to turn off the water supply.
In some houses there may also be a stopcock outside the house – look for a metal plate with the words “Water” or sometimes just a “W” on it. Once you have lifted the lid turn the valve clockwise to turn off the water supply. Note that in some cases you will need a special long tool to reach the stopcock. This is available from any plumber’s merchant or DIY store. Be careful turning off the external stopcock since if this stopcock is not in your grounds it may also be serving other homes.
When turning stopcocks back on it is a good idea not to turn them on fully to prevent them from getting stuck in the future. When turning on, turn the valve anti-clockwise as far as it will go and then give them a 1/8th of a turn clockwise.
If you are struggling to find your stopcock or have found it and it is stuck you may need professional help. Use our site to find a Local Hero to help fix your problem.