A. It's important you know where your internal and external stop taps are (also known as a stop valve or stop cock), as you may need it in an emergency. You should check them every so often or immediately before you start any work on your property to make sure they will shut off the water supply when needed.

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.

How to turn off the stop tap

To shut off the water supply, turn the valve clockwise to close. It may take a few minutes for the water to stop altogether. To turn the water back on, simply turn the valve anti-clockwise. Turn it on and off slowly, never force it. Stop taps aren't used very often, so they can sometimes seize or be very difficult to turn. If you over tighten or use excessive force to operate the stop tap you may damage it. 

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. Normally when the lever is in line with the pipe it is on and when across the pipe off

If your internal stop tap is not turning or shutting off, you'll need to contact a qualified plumber to help to fix this. 

If you're having trouble using the external 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 qualified plumber use our search for WIAPS Approved Plumber or use a WaterSafe approved plumbing business.

Shared water supplies

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.

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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