How to find your stopcock

Millions of Brits could be at risk of household damage from escaping water due to a lack of knowledge about their stopcock. Despite it being the main water control in homes, almost seven million people in the UK have no idea what a stopcock is and 25 per cent have never tried to find it according to new research by Direct Line Home Insurance.

While three quarters (77 per cent) of UK adults correctly said that a stopcock is a valve regulating the flow of cold water that supplies the house, eight per cent thought it was a plug to prevent overflow in a sink or an emergency stop button for the gas supply. Less than half (45 per cent) of 18 to 34 year olds correctly identified what a stopcock is, compared to 97 per cent of those aged over 55. And homeowners are more knowledgeable about their stopcock, with 82 per cent having located it in their property, compared to just 57 per cent of renters.

Why you need to know where it is

While a stopcock should rarely need to be used, it is vital to know where it is located for an emergency, as shutting off the water supply could save thousands of pounds and prevent the destruction of treasured possessions if a pipe was to burst. During freezing weather spells, as many as 3,500 claims have been recorded in a single day from burst-pipe damage, costing the average household £7,000. Here's how to prevent a burst-water pipe.

Check it works 

Worryingly, one in ten (9 per cent) of those that know where their stopcock is, have never tried to turn it. Homeowners and renters should remember that a stopcock can seize up over time so set a regular reminder, every six months, to check it is working and can be turned off in an emergency. It could be the difference between a minor leak or serious flood damage.

5 stopcock tips

  1. Know where your stopcock is Stopcocks are usually found in the kitchen, under the sink. However in some houses the stopcock is found in the front or back hall or in a larder unit beside the sink unit. Make sure you know where yours is so you can access it in the event of an emergency.
  2. What does a stopcock look like? A stopcock looks like a tap but without an outlet spout. It will be situated between two lengths of pipe, acting as a connector. This allows the stopcock to impede the flow of water when it is closed off.
  3. Turn it regularly 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.
  4. How to turn it off In case of water escape, locate your stopcock and simply turn the valve clockwise to turn off the water supply. Turn on the taps in the sinks and bathrooms to remove any water remaining in the household system.
  5. If you're going on holiday either turn the stopcock off to prevent disasters or if a neighbour is looking after your house, show them where the stopcock is.
  • For more money-saving tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine.