What To Do If You Have A Water Leak

If you discover a water leak in your property, you need to stop the water supply to prevent further water damage from occurring. Unexplained damp patches or leaky water pipes can be stressful and it’s important to take action when you notice water leaks.

If the water leak is obvious, such as a burst pipe, use buckets to catch the excess water and locate the stopcock / shut off valve.

The internal stopcock location is important to know when a water leak happens, especially in water leak emergencies.

The stopcock will be either a brass tap-style stopcock or a lever valve. The usual location for a stopcock is under the kitchen sink or on the inside of an external wall.

Homeowner tips: turn off the central heating if you believe the water leak is coming from the heating system pipes. Turn off the electricity supply if the water leak is at risk of coming into contact with electrical fixtures or fittings.

If the water leak is severe, call a plumber to fix the leak and file an insurance claim with your insurance company.

Let this be your troubleshooting guide on what to do if you have a water leak.

water leak in property

Find And Turn Off The Stopcock

Water Main Tap Valve Under Kitchen Cupboard

Find the stopcock by looking under the sink, in the basement, inside of an external wall, or in the utility cupboard. Homeowners need to understand how their plumbing system works to prevent further water damage and costly repairs.

What does a stopcock look like?

A stopcock looks like a tap or lever valve. The size of an internal stop tap depends on the diameter of the main supply pipes it’s connected to and may vary in size.

There are different types of stopcocks such as:

  • Visible vs hidden stopcocks
  • Visible stopcocks are easy to access and identify, such as a tap or lever-style fitting
  • Hidden stop taps are concealed behind wall/floor panels or underground
  • Traditional stop valves are made from metal – normally brass – with a wheel or “T-bar” handle.
  • A lever-styled stop valve is a more modern fixture made from steel, chrome or plastic. It has a handle that turns at 90 degrees (quarter-turn).
  • Some stop taps have “open” and “closed” markings.

Where is the stopcock located?

The stopcock is usually located beneath the kitchen sink or just after the water pipe enters the property building. The stop valve is not typically located along your property boundary.

The stopcock controls and allows cold water to flow into your home from the main supply pipe whereas meters monitor your household’s water usage and consumption.

However, not all houses or apartments are designed the same and the stop tap location can vary between properties, including:

  • Close to the water meter or boiler
  • Downstairs bathroom
  • Utility room/airing cupboard
  • Hidden in floor or wall panels
  • You can follow pipelines to locate the stop tap or consider contacting a local plumber for assistance.

Understanding common stopcock locations in different property types, such as houses and apartments, is important for homeowners to know when leaks occur and for future emergencies.

How to turn off the stopcock

Turn off the stopcock by closing the tap or valve in a clockwise direction. If the valve or stopcock is too stiff to turn, use a wrench to help twist and pry the valve open.

  • Turn the valve/handle clockwise to shut off the water supply.
  • Taps throughout your home will run dry when you successfully close the valve.
  • As mentioned, if you run into potential challenges, such as a rusted valve or a tight fitting, use a wrench to effectively close the stop tap.
  • As an alternative, try turning off the water at the meter.


Note: After closing the stop tap, turn on a tap within your house to reduce built-up water pressure in the pipes. This will prevent burst pipes and reduce the water pressure within your boiler and central heating system.

Consider Turning Off Your Central Heating

Consider turning off your central heating if a leaking pipe has caused:

  • Reduced system pressure
    Intermittent thermostat readings
  • Cold or lukewarm radiators
  • Unusual noises, like hissing or gurgling, from your boiler or central heating unit
  • Little to no hot water from the boiler pipes
  • Unexplained damp patches, puddles of water, or water leaks
  • A higher-than-normal meter reading/water bill on your property


Shutting off the central heating will minimise damage to integral boiler components and prevent further water damage to your property.

Consider Turning Off Your Electricity Supply

Consider turning off your electricity supply if the leak occurs close to an electrical appliance or power source. When water comes into contact with an electrical supply, such as light switches or appliances, it can reach the electricity panel. Water and electricity are a dangerous mix and a severe safety concern.


Follow these electric safety tips to prevent water hazards and electric shocks:

  • Locate your electrical panel. This is where the fuse box and circuit breakers are found.
  • Shut off the electricity supply at the main fuse or meter box to reduce the likelihood of electrical shocks and fires.
  • If you’re unsure about how to safely turn off your electricity, or if a water leak compromises the electrical panel, seek help from a qualified electrician.
  • If you are unsure where the water leak is coming from, contact a professional plumber or leak detection specialist to locate and repair the leak.

Call A Professional Leak Detection Company

Call ADI Leak Detection to locate the source of your water leak.

Our team of plumbing experts use specialised leak detection equipment to pinpoint and repair water leaks on your property. Our non-destructive methods include the use of tracer gas, acoustic listening devices and thermal imaging cameras.

We assist with water leak home insurance policy claims by providing a comprehensive trace and access report.

Whether you have a leak in the water mains, water meter, or underground pipe, rest assured our nationwide service will get your leak fixed!

Adrian Morgan

Adrian Morgan CIPHE RP RHP is the founder & Managing Director of ADI Pro Leak Ltd. Adrian is also the Head Plumbing, Heating & Leak Detection engineer at ADI Leak Detection.

Adrian CIPHE RP RHP is proud to be registered with the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering, a Registered Plumber and a Registered Heating Professional.