Our other sites:

What is a Stopcock?

 What is a stopcock?

Shop for Stopcock Keys

Crutch type stopcock A stopcock is a valve, or a kind of tap, used to restrict or stop the flow of water through a mains water inlet pipe.

They are also known as stop valves and stop taps.

Replacing a tap Stopcocks are used to prevent the flow of water into a domestic water system while carrying out maintenance, such as replacing a bathroom tap.
Domestic water emergency Without turning off the stopcock, there would be a major leakage of water during the operation.

Internal stopcocks

Internal stopcock Most houses have at least two stopcocks. One is an internal stopcock – the one inside the house that is turned off during many types of maintenance work on the internal plumbing system.

An internal stopcock is typically installed under a sink in the kitchen or utility room. In older houses, they may be in another room or cupboard – or even in the garage or an outhouse!

Internal water meter and stopcock In some cases, the water meter is close to the internal stopcock.

If you need to use a stopcock key, take care not to damage the meter.

External stopcocks

Stopcock cover The other type of stopcock is an external stopcock, usually located below ground level beneath a metal cover on the property boundary.

In some cases, it may be some distance from the house, perhaps below the pavement beside the nearest road.

You would need to turn off an external stopcock if the pipe between the external and internal stopcocks needed repairing or if you were replacing the internal stopcock.

Outside water meter and stopcock Like some internal stopcocks, an external stopcock is sometimes side-by-side with the water meter.

Take care not to damage the water meter when using a stopcock key.

Types of stopcock head

Crutch stopcock Stopcocks have one of three types of ‘head’ – the part that the hand or key grips to turn the stopcock on or off.

A crutch head, or crutch ‘pattern’, stopcock looks like a traditional T-shaped tap.

Square head stopcock A square head stopcock can usually only by adjusted by a key as there is little for the hand to grip.
Wheel head stopcock The third type is the wheel head valve. This is not usually a mains water stopcock but one which controls an individual part of a plumbing system inside a property, such as the flow of hot water to taps.
Mini crutch and wheel head stopcock key in use on wheel head valve It is usually turned by hand, but may be very stiff and require a short wheel head key which has “teeth” that fit between the wheel’s spokes, as shown here.

See What is a mini crutch and wheel head combination stopcock key?

Stopcock showing direction of flow Stopcocks have an inlet side – to which the pipe coming from the mains water supply is connected – and an outlet side, connected to the pipe which takes the water from the stopcock and into the property.

The diameter of the inlet side may be the same as that of the outlet side, or sometimes the inlet diameter may be bigger than the outlet, as shown here.

Different sizes of stopcock Stopcocks come in a number of different sizes depending on the size of the pipes to which they are connected.

The T-handles and square tops can also vary in size, usually in relation to the size of the stopcock.

Stopcock keys to fit different shapes and sizes There are keys to fit all sizes and both shapes, including the most common – 1/2 inch (15mm) and 3/4 inch (20mm) crutch head stopcocks and 1/2 inch (15mm), 5/8 inch (16mm), 3/4 inch (20mm) and 1 inch (25mm) square head stopcocks.

A key for wheel head valves will fit most sizes and patterns of wheel.

Automatic stopcocks

Automatic stopcock turnkey kit
Automatic stopcocks are also available. You don’t need a key for one of these!

An automatic stopcock will monitor water flow and terminate the mains water supply if there is an unusual continuous flow of water.

It can also be set to turn off the water in frost and other potentially dangerous situations. There is a switch to override automatic operation at any time.

Wonkee Donkee Tools