6

This cold fill is in the closed position but the water still runs. If my house has a stop tap, I can't find it (spent half a day looking, not mentioned in papers when I bought the house either).

I tried turning the valve with a screwdriver and that didn't work either.

I'm moving out soon and taking the washing machine with me. I need a way to spare the new owner from having a flooded kitchen when he arrives. What can I do?

Edit: Thanks all. When I unscrewed the blue plastic handle I saw it had indeed broken. It was a simple task to turn the valve with a spanner and shut off the water.

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  • 4
    Have you identified where the water mains enter the house? This is the most likely place for a main valve.
    – MiG
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 14:46
  • 1
    And if @Tetsujin's fix doesn't work, as a stopgap measure you could screw a fitting threaded cap onto the leaky valve (using a bit of teflon for a better seal).
    – MiG
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 14:47
  • 3
    @MiG - "washing machine blanking cap" will find them on Google - as you say, though… leaving a leaky surprise for the next occupant is not going to win any popularity contests & you're still going to be trying to put it on with the water at full flow ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 15:29
  • 1
    @user207421 It's usually (for a UK house - if it even has a meter) under a cover, in a hole in the ground on the property line. It needs a special tool to operate it, and technically you're supposed to get permission from the water company
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 10:43
  • 1
    When I had a 30s terraced house, the main stopcock was under the floorboards in the tiny hallway. I had to lift most of the carpet to find it. Then it was jammed. After unjamming it I found a newer one 2 floorboards downstream, also rather stiff. In more modern houses it's often under the kitchen sink, though I know of one house with it under the utility room sink.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 10:47

8 Answers 8

17

If you remove the blue handle, then there should be a shaft with two flats or a square end.

Turn that with a suitable spanner or adjustable. Some will suggest pliers but then you can end up rounding off the square or flats.

5
  • Thanks. So unfasten the phillips screw I can see to take of the handle, and then turn the shaft clockwise?
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 14:48
  • 7
    You should see which way to rotate it - btw the plastic handle shows it in the closed position already, but the plastic may have failed...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 14:50
  • 1
    The plastic on the hot valve fails more often than the cold; I've been known to borrow the tap off the cold to operate the hot when there's no room to swing a spanner.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 10:48
  • @ChrisH I have a couple of aluminium handles that I put on if the valve starts to get stiff. that plus a bit of lubrication helps.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 11:26
  • @SolarMike nice, I haven't seen those. The problem with these valves is they're both rarely used and meant to be left fully open so they are prone to stiffening. I also use the tip of short fat linesman's pliers but that needs some care
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 11:27
8

From the pictures, that looks like UK plumbing, i'm going to assume that it is indeed UK plumbing.

First off as solar mike says it may just be the handle that is broken, try removing the handle (the handle is normally held in place by a single screw) and turning the metal stem directly with an adjustable spanner.

IMO if turning the handle has no effect at all, it's probably a broken handle, if it's leaky but turning the handle does have an effect on the water flow then it's probably a problem with the valve itself.

If it's not just the handle and the actual valve is bad.

The standard thread for UK washing machine taps is "¾ inch" straight BSP, you can find caps in this size quite easily (for example https://www.screwfix.com/p/hep2o-brass-bsp-female-manifold-cap/541fj ) if you want to take the approach of capping it off. The downside of the cap it off approach is you aren't really solving anything just leaving a problem for the next occupant.

Ideally though you should replace the washing machine tap, under normal circumstances where the water can be turned off doing so should be pretty easy, you can normally leave the existing nut and olive in place and just unscrew the nut from the old tap and screw it onto the new one but it's not something I'd fancy doing without turning off the water first.

In addition to any stopcocks that may or may not be inside the house, you should also have an outside stop tap at the demarcation point between the water company and your property. This is usually located in a pit with a cover that can be lifted in the pavement just outside your property boundary. If you have an outside water meter, then the stop tap will normally be in the same pit. You may need a stopcock key to operate it though. https://www.screwfix.com/p/rothenberger-universal-stopcock-key-920mm/71652

Another option, though a bit on the pricey side is you can get isolating valves designed to be fitted to live pipe. https://www.screwfix.com/p/aladdin-easyfit-isolator-starter-pack-15mm/36008 I would only consider such after ruling out all other reasonable options to isolate the supply though.

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  • 2
    +1 for looking outside for a stop tap. There will 95% certainly (IME) be one inside (but it might be hard to find), and there will 99.9% certainly be one outside (but it might be even harder to find, or lost under soil etc.). You can improvise a stop cock key if it's not too stiff (slot cut in a piece of wood for example)
    – rolinger
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 9:30
  • I'd recommend calling the water supplier to operate the valve at the demarcation point. It may be their property and operating it without their permission could cause legal problems.
    – Zarepheth
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 17:43
3

Another option is to get a replacement valve, and a pipe freezing kit.

Freeze the pipe before the valve, then before it has time to thaw, swap the valves over.

3

A trick not mentioned in other answers: Turning on multiple other cold taps around the house can greatly reduce water pressure, often making plumbing work manageable without needing the water turned fully off.

Start with at least 3 other taps turned fully on. Prefer the lower taps in the house since pressure is greatest at the lowest points. By the time you're turning on the third or fourth tap, you should notice they're down to only a small flow. A similar level of flow is what you will have remaining to deal with, when you work on the pipe.

Use a bucket under the worksite and have a couple of towels in place since a modest flow will still come, but the "spraying and flooding everywhere" panic factor should be almost eliminated.

You will be able to assess the effectiveness 1) by the decreased flow from the third or fourth tap, and 2) as you crack the nut and see how much is coming out. With any reasonable luck it will be only a little flow.

With that in mind, my order of options would be:

  1. Try turning the valve shaft directly.
  2. Find & turn off the main valve entering the property.
  3. Turning on many other cold taps to reduce pressure, then replace the valve or cap the pipe.
  4. Call a plumber to turn off the mains & replace the valve.

Some more specialist or less preferable options :

  1. Freeze the pipe. (Specialist technique)
  2. Fit an isolator valve in-place. (Slightly specialist & expensive)
  3. Crimp or clamp the hose closed temporarily while you put an adaptor & working valve on the end and leave it for the new owner. (Bodge job, not recommended.)

Hope that helps!

1

I also suspect it's the plastic lever which is broken. Are you by any chance in an area with hard water? (Which is probably why the valve has become very hard to turn and the plastic lever has broken).

If not, the "right thing" to do is to call a plumber to install a stopcock for the entire house (if he also cannot find the original or it's somehow missing completely). He will have the special tool to disconnect the water supply where your house's pipe branches off the main supply line while he works. There's a water utility stopcock, usually under the pavement outside the property. Right thing, but possibly expensive.

The original stopcock may be under a floorboard near where the water supply enters your property. (Look for a one-joist short floorboard, loose or screwed rather than nailed down). That's how it was in my Victorian London flat. Except it was immovable with a century plus of limescale, so I had to call in a plumber, which is how I came to know the above.

The other option would be a pipe freezer kit to create an ice plug in the cold pipe, to the right of the plastic clip securing it to the wall. While it's plugged with ice you can replace the valve. But if for any reason you can't and the ice melts ... nightmare ... I wouldn't risk DIY on this.

BTW if you have exchanged contracts and have never made any specific representation about the stopcock or washing machine plumbing, IANAL, but I think it is not your problem. The new owner of the house bought it with the problem and can probably be persuaded to pay to have it fixed before he completes and moves in. As you say, you are saving him from a possible future flood!

0

Some better plumbers have a freeze blanket which can freeze water in pipe and stop the flow it’s going to cost but this sounds like your answer

-2

In a pinch, you can connect the cold water to the hot water with a short hose.

5
  • Is there a way to do it without getting water all over?
    – gnicko
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 3:52
  • A clever idea, but I'm not sure it's useful here.
    – isherwood
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 14:19
  • This. Y'all don't know how to kink a hose? Even if it sprays all over for a few seconds. Prob never swapped out live gas valve either... it's only half a pound (where I live). - If I came to move that unit, that's what would happen. Cleaning up the mess or dealing with it afterwards is your problem. Unless you want me to drop your house and screw up all your aerators.
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 18:43
  • Looking at the picture I'm not sure it'd make any difference. Hell, it'd be cleaner when I'm done if some water sprayed on it and I lazily wiped it up. (In a pinch - I see what you did there ;)
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 18:51
  • 1
    Not in the UK, plumbing regulations need a non return valve if you do that, to avoid less clean hot water going back into the cold supply..
    – rolinger
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 9:26
-2

To cap off cold supply using what you already have, sacrifice your washing machine cold inlet hose (which has female threads at both ends). First remove the hot inlet fill hose from the wall. Then bend and squeeze the flexible cold water inlet hose while disconnecting it from the washing machine and reconnect it to the hot water inlet at the wall. When you release the bend in the hose, there should be nowhere for water to flow and should be minimal on the floor to clean up.

3
  • Ha, I actually thought of something similar - I have a y connector and thought of putting that in and then connecting the hose to itself. Could do I guess (:
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 9:12
  • 4
    I think this is not the best plan - it would be very easy for the cold water to backflow into the hot water pipe (or vice verse) if the other tap was ever turned. It would also leave a nasty surprise for whoever came to it next.
    – RUOK_
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 9:33
  • "Not in the UK, plumbing regulations need a non return valve if you do that, to avoid less clean hot water going back into the cold supply.." – rolinger ... (probably a no-go in the US too)
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 3:24

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