Avoid Plumbing Disasters - Know Where The Stopcock is Located

You may not think that plumbing is a fun DIY project, but knowing how fix problems before they become disasters can save you lots of money.




Plumbing may not seem like a fun and rewarding project, but there are plenty of problems that can be avoided if you have some DIY savvy and a basic knowledge of how your home water system and plumbing works.



Water leaks can be frustrating and hard on the wallet. Luckily, many household leaks can be fixed relatively easily. However, before you consider fixing a leak yourself you need to determine where the leak is, and how to stop the water flow to the area where the leak is. One thing that every homeowner should know, is the location of the main stopcock for water supply to a property.






Location of stopcock

A stopcock controls the water flow from municipal supply onto a residential property. It's the first place you go to if there is an emergency and you need to switch off the main water supply to your home. If you don't know the location of the stopcock you could end up with a flooded home and expensive damage.



Every residential property has a stopcock, but they aren't all in the same place. If you're not sure where the stopcock is located, start at where municipal water enters your property.



Since stopcocks are installed on the main water supply line to a property, these are generally in the ground and can be covered by soil and plants, making it difficult to locate and turn off in an emergency. If you know where your stopcock is, ensure it is easy to get to should you need to turn off the water supply. It's also important to ensure that the stopcock mechanism itself is in working order and that the tap hasn't locked up, which can be the case if it has never been used or been buried in the ground.



Having the stopcock easily accessible also allows you to check for leaks. While it's easy to see leaks inside a house, or in the garden, if a stopcock is buried and not visible you could have a leak without even knowing it. If you suspect a leak due to rising water costs, inspect around the location of water pipes for mould and algae growth or excess ground water in the soil. These can be an indication that there is underground water.



The water mains stopcock is more often than not close to the municipal water meter, or close to the property boundary. Make sure you are familiar with the location or, if you are uncertain, consult a plumber.

Test for underground leak

If you suspect a water leak in the underground pipes, first take a meter reading from the municipal water meter.

Stop using water for at least an hour while doing this test.



Where an inferential water meter is fitted you will be able to see changes on the meter. If this continues to change while not using water - you may have a leak in the underground pipes.

With a volumetric reader the digits will rotate upwards as water flows through, and you will be able to see an increase if there is a leak when water is not being used.



After one hour, take another meter reading and compare this to the original reading. This will tell you how much water is leaking every hour.



To prevent the possibility of increasing water bills, perform a regular check for household and underground water leaks.




Older municipal water meters were fitted with a stopcock to turn off municipal water supply outside a residential property. Newer meters no longer have a stopcock. If a leak occurs between the municipal meter and your residential stopcock, or if you do not have a stopcock to turn off your residential water supply, you will need to make arrangements with the local municipality to fit one. This can cost anywhere from R800 to R1500.





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