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How to turn off the water supply in your home

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Although it is usually a straightforward procedure, it is unwise to wait until a plumbing emergency strikes before working out how to turn off the water supply to your appliances. Use this guide today to locate your internal stop tap and practise turning off the water.
What you'll need: 
Flat-head screwdriver (needed for external stop tap only)
Stopcock key (needed for external stop tap only)
The first place to look for your internal stop tap (otherwise known as a stopcock or stop valve) is underneath the kitchen sink. It is a t-shaped tap, usually made of brass, attached to the large pipe bringing water in to your house (the rising main).
If you can't locate your stop tap under the sink, is it because your sink has been moved? If the answer is yes, check for the stop tap near the original location of your sink. If you do not know where the sink used to be located, ask a neighbour for the location of their stop tap as yours is likely to be in the same place.
When you have located your stop tap, simply turn it clockwise until it stops. This turns off the mains water supply to your house. If it is stiff, try some WD40.
If you need to turn off the water supply OUTSIDE the house (e.g. if you have a burst pipe in the garden) you need to look for a small, square metal or plastic cover in your garden or somewhere in the street.
Using a flat-head screwdriver, prise open the lid. Turn the stopcock clockwise using the stopcock key (you may need to clear away accumulated debris first).
Many appliances (especially in modern homes) have isolator valves attached. These enable you to turn off the water to the appliance without interrupting the mains supply.
If your stop tap is especially stiff you can unscrew the brass handle and use pliers to twist the valve.
If the pipe below your internal stopcock is metallic and dark grey in colour it may be made of lead. Consider getting this replaced as lead is linked to health problems.
The external stopcock is the property of the water board. Only turn this off in an emergency and be sure to inform your neighbours: they could be on the same water main.
Turning off the mains water will not usually stop the water to your sink taps. To do this you will need to close the valves on your cistern and hot water cylinder.
Always turn stop valves either fully on or fully off.


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