We often need to turn off the water supply to a house. Then the search for the stopcock starts!
Stopcocks are located in a variety of places. Often they are under the kitchen sink, but as houses are modified over the years they can be in the most obscure places. We sometimes find that there is no stopcock at all – or at least no stopcock that can be found and accessed. In a Southsea terrace they are often under the floorboards inside the front door (and now quite often under a fitted carpet as well)! Unless you know where to look, you’ll never find it.
There is another way to isolate the water to every house. So that the house stopcock can be changed and the feed from the street to the house can be changed, the water supply company (in our case, Portsmouth Water) fit an external stopcock on the border of the house – usually under a metal plate saying ‘water’. As the valves are often deep in the ground a special tool is usually needed to turn them.
So every house has, in theory, 2 ways to isolate the water supply. However, the external stopcock may not have been used for many years, may have jammed or the hole may have filled up with mud and debris. The internal stopcock may also be seized up and sometimes will not work.
This is fine until either we need to turn the water off, or an urgent problem such as a leak, means that you need to turn the water off in a hurry. So it is very important that your stopcocks (ideally both of them), are accessible, that everyone knows where they are and that they work well. Being able to turn the water off quickly if a problem develops is very useful indeed and can save much damage being caused. Have a look at your stopcocks and, if you need, we will be very happy to come, test and fit a new stopcock if needed. The water company will replace their external stopcock free of charge if needed and if you cannot find it, call them and they will help.