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 your inside stop valve is broken. 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.
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
The diagrams below show where covers and stop valves may sit depending on your property and supply type.
How to use your outside stop valve
Your outside stop valve can be used to turn off your water if you're unable to use your inside stop valve. Although it shouldn't be relied on as the only way to turn your water off.
How to turn your water off
Turn the 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 any more. 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. So be sure to let them know before you start work.
How to turn your water on
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.
If you’re having problems finding or using your outside stop valve, please contact a plumber.
If your outside stop valve is faulty, please let us know. Our repairs are completed during quieter periods of the year, therefore we can’t provide a timescale.