Your stopcock and water meter are pieces of equipment which control and measure the flow of water into your home – and occasionally, you may need to find them.
If you do not know where your stopcock or water meter is located, then the good news is that they are normally easy to locate.
Where is my stopcock located?
The stopcock controls the flow of water coming into your home. By turning it off, you can shut off your water source.
This is sometimes necessary to stop water damage when a pipe bursts and you are awaiting an emergency pipe repair or a replacement. It is also advisable to turn off the supply if a property is going to remain empty for a long period of time.
In most houses, the stopcock is found under the kitchen sink. To turn a stopcock off, you turn the valve clockwise. The easiest way to remember which way is through the rhyme righty tighty, lefty loosey which is equally handy when building IKEA furniture.
Some properties may find their stopcock located outside. If this is the case, it will be located underneath a metal plate which will normally have a large W or the word water on it.
To access an exterior stopcock, lift the lid and turn the valve clockwise. If the stopcock is located some way a down, then you need a specialist long reach tool which is available from any plumber’s merchants or DIY outlet.
A word of warning before turning off an exterior stopcock – make sure it is yours and does not serve other homes. If it is located off your property, then it may be part of a shared supply system with a neighbour.
You inadvertently turning off their water supply whilst they are in the middle of a shower is not likely to go down well!
When it comes to turning a stopcock back on, it is a good idea not to turn it fully as that prevents it getting stuck in the future.
Grime, dirt and rust can often make the challenge of turning a stopcock a challenge in itself. Leaving it a little looser will make the task much easier on the next occasion you need to shut your water off.
Where is my water meter located?
A water meter measures how much water a household has used and allows their water supply company to bill them accordingly.
It also plays an important role in leak detection; should the meter show a usage figure far in excess of what you believe has come out of the taps, then it may point to an unnoticed leak somewhere on your property.
Most water meters are located on the public footpath outside a property or in the front garden under a metallic lid.
In flats and other shared properties, water usage cannot be measured at the point it is drawn from the public supply network and so the meter is located indoors, normally under the sink or where the stop tap is.
Most water companies will read the meter themselves every six months. For those with smart water meters, the information is sent digitally to the supplier.
There may be occasions where you need to take and submit your own water meter reading. If your supplier is unable to access your meter to take a reading, then they will come up with an estimated bill based on past and predicted usage.
If you want to ensure that you are paying a more accurate amount, then you can do so by sending your reading in.
You water company can provide details of how to do this. It is very straightforward; simply read the numbers in black and red on the dials with each black number representing one cubic metre of water.