I live in the UK and have recently moved into a new home. I've been told the stopcock is "under the floorboards in the dining area" (nothing more specific). I can't find any loose carpet that's easy to pull up.

To avoid any panic carpet pulling up in future, and to avoid tearing up the carpet now, is it possible to get someone to install a new stopcock somewhere more accessible? Is there some law/code dictating only one stopcock per property?

Another option could be to buy a key for our outside stopcock, but can anyone buy one?

  • Can you turn off the water at the meter?
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Aug 18, 2011 at 20:53
  • There is nothing in building regulations about where you put stop cocks/ valves ,etc. Best practise is to put it somewhere you can reach it when you need it.. usually not under floor boards..(The only legal requirement is to have one by the connection in the street(but that is usually out of your hands aswell))
    – Piotr Kula
    Aug 19, 2011 at 16:23

3 Answers 3


I don't why you couldn't install a new stop cock after the current one but in a more accessible location. We've installed shut off valves at various points so we can work on each sink/bath/toilet/shower without having to turn off the whole supply. This is just an extension of that principle.

The main argument against more than one actual stop cock is (I assume) the potential confusion it could cause.

However, you would have to turn the water off to do this - which would entail finding the existing stop cock (and we're back where we started).

Theoretically you could turn the water off outside - but, as Mike says, you're not really supposed to touch those.

  • strictly speaking aren't shut off valves different to a stopcock (at least in this situation) ie Shut off valve stops water to a given water outlet, where as a stopcock is where the homeowner goes to turn the water off water for the whole house? I totally agree with you that shut off valves should be installed with all outlets (if that is what you're saying).
    – Mike Perry
    Aug 18, 2011 at 22:02
  • 1
    @Mike - Yes they are different, but have the same effect - shutting off water downstream. I am saying that they should be installed with all outlets, but also there's nothing stopping you putting in an extra one in.
    – ChrisF
    Aug 18, 2011 at 22:04

I think any “single stop cock” rule would be there to stop you having to turn off more than one stop cock to shut of all the water. So I expect you can put a new stop cock provided it does not stop the existing stop cock turning off all the water. A lot of people that can’t reach their stop cock and add something like this:

Remote-controlled shutoff valve


I honestly don't know if the UK Building Regulations (Code) says anything about having more than one main stopcock located inside a single-dwelling property. My guess would be you're not allowed to, or at least strongly recommended not to have more than one main stopcock located inside a single-dwelling...

Regardless I would most definitely want to locate and ensure the existing stopcock is working correctly before doing anything else. If that stopcock fails (original one) for whatever reason and you've installed a second one past the original one, the second one isn't going to do you any good whatsoever...

Not always, but "generally" in the UK the main stopcock inside the house is located somewhere along a straight line with the outside stopcock. I would first look along that line, maybe feel for a loose floorboard.

I know you said you were told the stopcock is "under the floorboards in the dining area", but I would question that. In my (limited) experience, I've never seen the stopcock located in such an area, if it's an old (or original) stopcock it will be under a floorboard somewhere on the ground floor, normally within the kitchen, or the cupboard under the stairs or some other cupboard (coatroom) on the ground floor...

Yes, anyone in the UK can buy a key for an outside stopcock, but as far as I'm aware (unless there has been a change in the law the past few years, since I moved abroad) it is "strictly" illegal to touch that outdoor stopcock. It is owned by and for the use of the water company only. That said, many people (especially plumbers, builders) own the required key and use it - just be aware if you're unlucky enough to get caught doing so you can get in trouble, and if you break or damage the outside stopcock you're liable for its repair/replacement ie Proceed at your own risk, knowing the possible consequences if you get caught using it or break/damage the actual outside stopcock while using it.

Some additional reading that you might find helpful/useful:

  • 1
    In practice it's hard to replace the main indoor stopcock without turning off the outdoor one! We recently had exactly that situation; I played it safe and had a plumber sort out the problem. Aug 22, 2011 at 19:24

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