Been trying to find the stopcock in my house and came across this tap in the downstairs toilet, does it look like the stopcock? If it is it doesn't work (i.e. it turns but doesn't stop the flow of water. Editor note: from a comment on an answer)

enter image description here

  • 8
    By "doesn't work" do you mean you cannot turn it or it does not stop the water?
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 22 at 10:00
  • 1
    Could well be. Could also be that turning the 'handle' isn't actually shutting off the water supply. Happens when something hasn't turned for many years. Need to find the one before it in the pipework, so water can be stopped in an emergency - also so that one could be replaced with a working stopcock.
    – Tim
    Sep 22 at 11:32
  • Are you trying to shut off water for the entire house? If so, look in your yard for the water meter, then draw a couple of imaginary lines toward the house, most likely straight out of the meter box then a 90° bend toward the house. This will give you an approximation of where the main is likely to enter the house. Then look on the inside near those possible areas. If you're looking to turn off water to one single fixture/room, look near it.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 11:57
  • @FreeMan there's a mention elsewhere that the OP might be in the UK. In that case, if they're on a metered supply, the meter housing is likely to be just off the property. Under the pavement is most likely, though I've seen them in the road; mine is exactly on the boundary line at the edge of my driveway. UK meters sunk into the ground often need a special tool/key but include a stopcock of their own. Far more information here
    – Chris H
    Sep 22 at 15:37
  • I found a stuck stopcock in my previous house, and managed to unstick it. Shortly afterwards I found the new one that had been added near it, that was stiff but not truly stuck
    – Chris H
    Sep 22 at 15:38

Yes, that is almost certainly your stopcock, they very commonly seize up, especially if they are opened 'hard'. You could try tapping firmly on the end of the stem, whilst trying to turn it, to get it to release, but it's likely to be jammed solid.

It looks like you're in the UK, so you should, hopefully have a stopcock out in the street. It'll be with the meter if you have one.

PS - if you do manage to free it off, leave it a half-turn closed, to reduce the chance of seizing again.

  • It's turning it's just not stopping the water Sep 22 at 13:24
  • @CarinAstrom Even after you leave it running for a while?
    – MaxD
    Sep 22 at 16:34
  • Yep 😞 it's just not stopping the water Sep 23 at 5:58

I agree with SiHa. Also, notice how the body of the valve has a hex nut formed into it. This means you can rebuild it. If you find a valve upstream to stop flow, simply remove that entire assembly and take it to a good hardware store or plumbing supply shop. Presto, a fresh valve. Be prepared for quite a bit of water dropping out from above.

Then take SiHa's advice and don't leave it hard open.

  • Good point about the water coming out when the valve is removed. This can be minimized by opening the highest and lowest taps in the house once the pressure is off. Also, it does look like there may be a drain cock in the line just above the stopcock, although there's a fair chance that is also seized solid.
    – SiHa
    Sep 22 at 13:01

Just had the water company out and it is the stopcock. He tried to fix it but wouldn't work so we've changed it to a new one and seems to be working now. Thanks for all the replies.

  • I'm glad you got this working. If you'll take the tour, you'll note, though, that this is a "Question and Answer" forum, not a general discussion board. As such, adding an "Answer" to say thank you is frowned upon. It's perfectly acceptable to answer your own question, though. If you remove the last sentence and replace it with an up vote for each answer (including your own) that helped you, and a check mark for the one that helped you the most (even your own is acceptable, if you feel it's appropriate), that would make this a reasonable self-answer.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 24 at 11:35
  • Oops, you can't up vote your own answer. You can select it with a check mark, however, if you feel it's the most appropriate one.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 24 at 14:43

A "stopcock" is traditionally a 90 turn on/off; the photo looks like a valve. Difficult to determine type of valve from the photo. For a valve you can loosen the packing nut and this may help to turn the stem, oil may help. Be sure to retighten the packing nut.

  • 2
    Not so, the newer ones are plastic quarter turn but far outnumbered by the old ones that need several turns.
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 22 at 17:51
  • @ Solar Mike - my son is in a thirties flat with a 1/4 turn brass stop cock (and lead drain pipes until yesterday). Its very stiff but works fine.
    – Dr Chuck
    Sep 23 at 16:42
  • 90 degrees is close to 1/4 circle. Sep 23 at 20:42

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