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How to Turn Off Water Main Supply at Street Level


If a pipe springs a leak, water can flood everywhere causing grass to become soggy, roads to flood, and pavements to become treacherous. Knowing how to turn off your water main supply is one of the ways you can fix the problem as quickly as possible. If a pipe springs a leak, there is no time to waste. The sooner you can turn off the water supply, the sooner the water will stop flowing – reducing the damage to your home and possessions significantly. 

How to Turn Off Water Main 

Learning how to turn off a water main is very simple. Start by going to the boundary of your property. You should be looking for an 8 inch iron or plastic cover. These covers are commonly marked with a W or WM to make it clear they are water main covers. To undo these, use a screwdriver to lift the cover and then remove the frost pad. Turn the stop tap clockwise to turn the water off and anti-clockwise to turn the water on. 

Top tip: all plumbing adjustments must be carried out while the mains water supply remains shut off. Don’t forget that there will still be water in the pipes in your home. So, it is important you run the lines you want to drain until the water stops and the lines are dry. 

What is a Stop Valve? 

Your outside stop valve, also known as a stopcock or stop tap, controls the amount of cold water being supplied into your home. Using the stop valve, you can turn your water on and off. However, the best way to do this is by using the stop valve inside where possible. 

Your outside stop valve can be used to turn off your home water supply if you are unable to use your inside stop valve (or you simply can’t find it). However, using the stop valve should not be relied on as the only way to turn off your water supply. It is important you familiarise yourself with all of the ways to turn off your water supply.  

How to Find the Stop Valve Outside 

It is very common for stop valves to be located outside under a cover on pathways or in the road. You might also find your stop valve in the following outdoor areas: 

  • At the end of your road. This is very common if you live in an old property as you probably share your water supply with your neighbours. 
  • In the same area as your water meter. 

If you are unsure where your stop valve is located outside, sometimes it’s best to take a walk around the exterior of your property, paying close attention to any areas you suspect it might be. If you still can’t find it, give us a ring. As experts in all things drainage, we should be able to advise you where to look. 

What to Do If Your Stop Tap is Shared 

If your stop tap is shared, you are allowed to turn the water off, however you must be sure that your neighbour is happy for you to do this. Of course this rule may be different if the leaking pipe is causing water damage to the flat below, in which case the mains water supply must be turned off as priority. 

Check that You Stop Tap Works 

Often, stop taps can seize up if they are not being used regularly and the last thing you want to deal with when you have a burst pipe is a stop tap that doesn’t work. So, it is important to check that your stop tap works well and isn’t stiff. You can do this by using some plumbing grease or lubricating spray to loosen the tap. 

If you are unable to turn your mains water off from inside or outside of your home, then the best alternative is to turn the mains water stop tap off from the outside. If this doesn’t work, it is best to call an emergency plumber to come and fix the problem for you. 

How to Turn Off Water Main Supply to House 

Your home will have a number of isolation valves fitted that mean you can turn the water supply on and off without having to shut off other outlets. To turn off the water main supply to your home, you can turn off the stop valve. This is normally located in your kitchen under the sink, downstairs, or in a utility room. 

You can turn off the valve by turning it clockwise. Turning off the water mains in this way will simply cut off the stream of water flowing into your home. Once the valve has been turned off, all the appliances in your home that use water will no longer work – at least not until the water is turned back on. 

Top tip: most homes have isolation valves that control the water flow to separate areas of your home, such as sinks, toilets, water heaters, and washing machines. By turning off correct isolation valves. Work can be carried out on particular areas of your home without affecting every part of your property. 

When to Contact Your Water Company 

Most companies will give you access to the shutoff valve in the street if you have a good reason. For example, the following three reasons are often circumstances water companies deem acceptable for turning off the water supply: 

  • Your property water shutoff has failed in your home and you have a drainage emergency, such as a burst pipe. 
  • There is a leak in the pipe between the street shutoff and your property shutoff valve. 
  • You are replacing the main shutoff valve on your property. 

Call Coastal Drains 

We hope this article has been helpful! Learning now to turn off a water main supply is extremely important. At Coastal Drains, when we carry out drain repairs or new pipe installations, we often have to turn off the water main supply to your property while work is carried out. So, if you have any questions, give us a call today. We would be more than happy to advise you!