A quarter of people have no idea where the stopcock is in their property, potentially risking their homes getting damaged in the event of a water leak, according to new research.
Worse yet – almost seven million people don’t even know what a stopcock is, according to the survey from Direct Line. One in twelve people incorrectly think it’s an overflow drain on a sink, or the emergency cut off button on a boiler.
But not being able to switch off water at the mains using your stopcock could be the difference between a minor leak and major property damage, with a burst water pipe typically resulting in a £7,000 insurance claim.
“A stopcock is essentially the off switch for your mains water supply in the home and it could be extremely costly if you don’t know where it is,” says Morgan Simpson, manager at Direct Line Home Emergency Response.
“Homeowners should definitely be familiar with their stopcock to ensure they are able to locate it in the event of an emergency. People should also make sure that they have the adequate insurance in place and that damage from burst pipes is included in their policy.”
Younger people are far more likely to not know the plumbing basics of their home. Most under-35s say they don’t know where their stopcock is, while practically all (97%) of over-55s do.
Landlords may also be concerned to find out that just 57% of renters know where to find their stopcock.
How to ensure your stopcock is in working order (quiet at the back)
If you don’t know where your stopcock is, it’s usually under the kitchen sink, though it could be in a hall, or in a cupboard near the sink.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s a lever that’s connected to your water pipe.
Turn the lever anti-clockwise to open up the water supply, or clockwise to close it. If you do need to cut off your water, leave taps running so any water in the pipes can be released.
Direct Line’s study found that even among people who do know where their stopcock is, a tenth of people have never tried to turn it.
However, experts say the water cut-off can seize up over time, so it’s best to check your stopcock every six months.