With winter weather sweeping across the UK, it’s essential to know where your stop tap is if you need to turn the water off in an emergency. However, latest research* from WaterSafe, the UK register for approved contractors working with drinking water, indicates that nearly half the nation doesn’t know where their stop tap is to turn the water off at the mains.
Of 2,000 people questioned, only 54 per cent knew the location of their stop tap, sometimes also known as a stopcock or stop valve. The most common places are under the kitchen sink, in a kitchen cupboard, in a downstairs bathroom or toilet, garage, utility room, cellar or under the stairs.
Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, said: “WaterSafe is a partner of the Met Office’s ‘WeatherReady’ campaign, which encourages everyone to think about what they can do to prepare for, and cope with, severe weather. My number one recommendation is find your stop tap, check it’s working and label it. This will help you to quickly shut off the water supply in an emergency, such as a leak or burst pipe. Note that it should be turned clockwise to turn off.
“Pipes can freeze and burst in very cold temperatures, particularly if we have a sudden freeze and thaw. It’s also common for water to freeze in hosepipes attached to outdoor taps, leading to ice backing up into pipes and cracking them.
“I’d also advise everyone to have the number of a WaterSafe-approved plumber handy for emergencies. Our survey showed only just over a quarter of people do this,” Julie added.
WaterSafe’s survey also revealed that, of the people who do actively prepare for the winter months, the most common actions are checking their boiler has been serviced (37%), checking where their stop tap is (33%) and draining or disconnecting the hose attached to outdoor taps (31%).
Julie said: “Winter can lead to costly issues for some people, so I’d recommend being as prepared as you can be – most people aren’t! Nearly three-quarters of respondents told us they don’t fix dripping taps, turn off the water if they’re going away or leave the heating on low to help prevent bursts. There’s lots of winter advice on our website at watersafe.org.uk/winter.”
WaterSafe is the national register of qualified, approved contractors, supported by all UK water companies and the drinking water regulators. It was set up to promote competent plumbers and water contractors and help keep the UK’s drinking water safe in homes and businesses.
*Based on 2,000 people living in the UK in September 2022