What is a stopcock?

A stopcock is your mains water tap (the off switch). Everyone should know where theirs is, especially during winter when pipes can burst due to frost.

There’s normally a stopcock in your property to isolate the plumbing within the building. But if you can’t find one in the property, there’s usually either one in the street, just outside your front garden on the pavement or on the entrance to your block or building.

If you don’t know where yours is, your house could be flooded with water everywhere, while you have no idea how to stop it, so it is highly recommended you locate your stopcock and note its position.

Damage from burst water pipes is a massive cause of home insurance across the ok equating to 24% of all property related insurance claims, so don’t think it will not happen to me.....be prepared.

Where is my stopcock?

In many homes it’s under the kitchen sink, a very common place to find it but stopcock can be found in a variety of places throughout a home, also you don’t just find them in the home, many properties have an outdoor one.

To help you locate your stockcock below is a list of places where you might find yours:

  • Under the kitchen sink
  • In the cupboard, under the stairs in your hall way
  • In the cellar
  • In the hallway cupboard
  • Behind the washing machine
  • Under the entrance floor where you sometimes have the door mat (if accessible)
  • In the front garden near the boundary
  • Near the gas meters
  • Boiler room or plant room (if you have a commercial property)

If you still can’t find it, it may be worth asking your neighbour where theirs is, especially if both your properties were built at the same time – they might be located in the same place.

What does a stopcock look like?
These images show you what to look out for:


Lever Valves Water meter stopcocks Common Stopcock

These are street stopcock and tend to be located on your property boundry:


To give you inspiration, here’s where some people found their stopcocks:

  • "At the back of a tiny cupboard next to the bathroom. Had a special long-handled stopcock turner-offer made."
  • "We’re in flats. Ours is in the shared corridor and turns off a few."
  • "Mine’s in my pantry near my boiler."
  • "Mine is in the bathroom at the side of the bath. V. strange."
  • "Ours is next to the front door, behind a screwed-on panel! Great in case of emergencies (not)."
  • "Mine’s underneath the oven – we have to lie on our stomach and wriggle to reach it!"
  • "Behind the sink in the bathroom."

A few tips on checking your stopcock.

Stopcocks should be turned a couple of times a year to minimise ‘seizing’ due to scale. And NEVER open fully, or they’re more likely to jam.

checkDon’t forget to insulate outside taps!

checkYou can fit a device called a Surestop, which turns off your water with just a press of a button."

checkDon’t just locate it, check that it still turns – as some may required use of pliers to get it moving."

checkModern stopcocks are a large on/off switch sited on the incoming main water supply – DO NOT TURN IT."

checkIf your stopcock isn’t working, you may want to call a plumber now – before you have a problem.



can you turn off your water in an emergency