What Is a Stopcock and Where To Find It?

What Is a Stopcock and Why You Need to Know Where It Is and What It Does?

You can think of a stopcock as the master tap for your home.  Its job is simply to allow or stop the flow of water throughout the plumbing systems in your home.  However, unlike a normal tap in your home a stopcock is rarely used (only in the case of emergencies or when plumbing work is undertaken).  As a result they can quite often cease up, or you may not know where yours is located.  These are not problems you want when a plumbing emergency occurs.  If you do have a plumbing disaster such a broken pipe, you may need to turn the water off at the stopcock before calling the emergency plumber to limit the amount of water damage to your home.

Where to find your stopcock

In most homes you will often find your stopcock under the kitchen sink, the bathroom or in a utility room.  You may also find the stopcock or even a secondary stopcock under your drive or the pavement near your house.  This will usually be protected by an iron lid, often accessed by a stopcock key to lift the lid and gain access.

Maintaining your stopcock

StopcockBecause stopcocks are used very rarely, they often become stiff or cease completely.  Should this happen you may be unable turn them on/off, however do not be tempted to use a spanner to try to force the stopcock to move as you may break the stopcock  or snap the handle making a bad situation worse.   An application of a spray lubricant (WD40 or similar) down the shaft may ease the situation.

If you are moving into a new home it is immediately advisable to locate where your stopcock and make sure that it hasn’t ceased up.  Make a note to check it hasn’t ceased intermittently.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, stopcocks are only required to be used if you have a plumbing emergency or need some plumbing work done and need to temporarily turn off the water.

For further information about maintaining your stopcock (or even finding it), you can call us for free advice, we are Hull based, so you can call us on 01482 236483, or should you need the services of an emergency plumber.

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Steve Atkinson
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