I get lots and lots of phone calls about leaks, ranging from an annoying dribble that can wait a few days to panic-inducing fountains of water gushing all over brand-new carpets. Regardless of how torrential the leak may be, there is a short term, fix-all solution that may just save you from flooding your front room: THE STOPCOCK.
This vital piece of plumbing is what allows all of the water to flow into your house. It is essentially what connects your property to the mains. Turning it off will stop any water flowing in and keep your property dry while the problem is resolved. When I arrive to fix a leak the first thing I will ask is, “Where is your stopcock?”
So where IS the stopcock? A surprising amount of homeowners don’t seem to know this about their house. When you buy a house, this should be one of the first things you find out. It is often found under the kitchen sink, but some homes also have an outdoor one. I also see homes where the stopcock is underneath the floorboards. This is usually the result of a badly-planned renovation. On that note, if you are doing any work on your house, do try to think about any future access to the plumbing or electrics of the property. It will save you having to pull up your nice hardwood floors in order to stop the leak flowing down your equally nice freshly-painted walls.
If you’re not sure where the stopcock is, check the following common places:
- Under the kitchen sink
- In the larder or other large cupboard
- Near your boiler
- Behind a panel by the front door
If you’re still not sure, it’s worth asking your neighbours, as the houses along a street are often designed in the same way.
Regardless of where it is, it’s a good idea to find it before you have any leaks, so that you can quickly prevent permanent damage if you do get one.