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How to find and use your outside stop valve

How to find and use your outside stop valve

To protect your home, you should always have a working inside stop valve and use this as the main way to turn your water on and off.

Your outside stop valve, also known as stopcock or stop tap, controls the cold-water supply going into your home. You should only use your outside stop valve in an emergency, for example, if you have a leak on the pipe between the inside and outside stop valves, known as the supply pipe. 

How to find your outside stop valve

Your outside stop valve is normally located under a cover on the path or the road. It can also be:

  • In the same area as your water meter
  • At the end of your road – this is common if your house is old and you share a supply with your neighbours.

The image below shows typical covers

Photograph of examples of outside stop valve covers

The diagram below shows the typical pipework at most homes and who is responsible for maintaining it.

A diagram showing who is responsible for each section of pipe

How to use your outside stop valve

You shouldn't rely on your outside stop valve to turn the water off inside your home. Using your inside stop valve is the quickest and easiest way to do this. If you have a leak on your supply pipe, you might need to follow the steps below.

How to turn your water off using your outside stop valve

Before you start, check your inside stop valve and try to turn your water off from there.

If you can't find your inside valve, or it's not working, you should turn the outside stop valve clockwise.

It may take a few turns to stop the water. It may also take a few minutes for the water to stop running from your taps, as there will be some water left in the pipes from before you turned the water off. You may need to obtain a valve or universal stopcock key to help you.

You'll usually get to a point where you can’t turn it anymore. You shouldn’t use excessive force to turn it further.

Important: if your home is on a shared water supply, turning the water off will also turn your neighbour’s off. Let them know before you start work.

How to turn your water on using the outside stop valve

Turn the valve anti-clockwise.

It may take a few turns to turn the water on. It may also take a few minutes for the water to start running from your taps, as it will need to run through the pipes again.

Watch the video to find out more.

Having problems turning the water off? 

If your inside stop valve and outside stop valve aren't working, the quickest way to turn your water off is to contact a plumber.