Do you know what a stopcock is? A stopcock is a valve, which controls and stops the flow of liquid or gas.
It’s the valve that stops the water coming into your property from the main water supply.
There are many makes and, over the years, their look and feel may have changed slightly but, on a whole, they all are very similar.
Normally, the stopcock will have a tap or handle on the top, which, if turned clockwise, will close the valve and, if turned anticlockwise, will open the valve.
In some modern houses, a new device, called the automatic stopcock, could be found.
This is a rectangular box on the pipe and the valve is activated by switch, remote control or automatically.
Now, we know what we are looking for, we have to begin the hunt.
About 50% of people know where the stopcock is within the home.
But that still leaves 50% of us guessing or not knowing.
The general rule of thumb is that the stopcock will be as close to the point where the water comes into the property.
Generally, this means within the kitchen or downstairs bathroom areas.
In some properties, such as terraced or very old properties, the water may come in through the front of the property and the stopcock could then be located in a utility cupboard, basement or hallway.
If the property is more modern, it will most likely to be found in the kitchen near the sink or the garage.
So, now you know what we are looking for and assuming your hunt was successful you should have the stopcock in sight.
Most will be in an easy to access area and require no tools. In some rare cases, the stopcock could be under floorboards or even out of reach behind baths or cupboards.
If this is the case, certain tools can be purchased to help reach the tap or, in the case of the key type stopcock, a key tool will be required as the stopcock will have no handle or tap.
Now, we have checked that the stopcock is in working order, many stopcocks are rarely seen let alone used and can become stiff or even jammed solid.
Remember, clockwise is closed and anticlockwise is open. Turn the tap slowly but firmly clockwise half a turn at first.
If it turns with ease, carry on. If not, clean the stopcock of grime and dirt and apply easing oil such as WD40, rock the tap open and closed until you have movement.
If it does not move it may need replacing. When you have the Mains Stopcock closed, open the cold water taps on the sinks and bath to remove the remaining water in the system.
Once the water stops flowing, you are all done. If it was a leak, it will stop or if it is home improvements you can start.
If you are unable to fix your stop valve yourself then we would recommend you find an emergency plumber.