What should I do if my external stop tap is not working?

External stop taps (also known as stop valve or stop cock) are used to isolate the water supply to your home or business. Ideally it should only be used by a qualified plumber or by the water supplier.

Please note that the external stop tap belongs to your local water supplier and you may need to seek permission to operate the external stop tap even in an emergency. If you turn off the external stop tap in an emergency you may need to seek permission from your water supplier to turn the supply back on. Not all water suppliers will give permission to use the external stop tap and if you operate the external stop tap and damage the stop tap, you may be liable for repairs.

The external stop tap, is often located near the boundary of a premises under a small cover, about the size of a CD case. If you have a water meter, it will generally be located in the same pit or chamber as the meter. If it appears to be made of a plastic type material it may only require a quarter of a turn to turn off the water. When the lever is in line with the pipe it is on and when across the pipe off.

Some properties share a water supply pipe and external stop tap. If you're on a shared supply, remember that turning off the external stop tap will shut off the water supply to all the properties on the same supply. You'll need to let your neighbours know before you shut off their supply so that you can complete your work.

Many external stop taps are in the highway, so you may need to be aware of road traffic and ensure that you do not create a hazard. For example by leaving a stop tap cover open where it may trip up a pedestrian or damage a car.

To shut off the water supply, turn the valve clockwise to close. To turn the water back on, simply turn the valve anti-clockwise. Turn it on and off slowly, never force it. if you over tighten or use excessive force to operate the stop tap you may damage it.

If you're having trouble using the stop tap, it could be that a key is needed to operate it. A universal stop tap key should work for most situations (some water meter housings need a specialist key and you will need to contact your water suppliers if it is not in the meter box), they can be purchased at plumbing merchants. A qualified plumber should also have the tools to operate your external stop tap. To find a plumber near you, use our WaterSafe approved plumbing business search.

Still having problems?

If your plumber can't operate the external stop tap, or you cannot locate it you should contact your  local water supplier.

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