How to locate a stopcock

A stopcock controls the flow of water from a main supply water line into a residence or other type of building. Knowledge of the location of this valve becomes vital in the event of a break occurring in a water pipe located inside a residence. Water flowing from a split or cracked water pipe can cause flooding within the property. To protect your belongings and to save time in the event of a plumbing catastrophe, learn and remember the location of this important valve.

Examine the footway along the length of your front yard or check the ground at the front entrance to your building. Look for a metal disk or plate. When you locate it, slip a flat-head screwdriver under the metal plate and lift it. Look down into the cavity to find the water meter. The pipe running from the water meter into your property has a stopcock attached to it. This valve, known as an exterior stopcock, controls the flow of water into your property. Classify this as the primary or most important stopcock location.

Search the interior walls of your basement or crawlspace for the main water supply line that carries water in from the outside water main. Plumbers often connect a secondary stopcock to the main water line at this location.

Trace the water feed line from where it enters through the wall. Use an electric torch and follow it toward the area under the kitchen sink. Plumbers may use this as a secondary location for a stopcock.


If no footway exists, soil, grass and sand may build up and camouflage the location of the cover to the water meter. Probe the soil with a flat blade screwdriver to find the location of the metal plate covering the exterior stopcock.


If water is seeping around an exterior stopcock, contact your local water or utilities department and request an inspection.

Things You'll Need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Flashlight
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About the Author

Truell Bliss retired from the restaurant and hospitality industry after almost a lifetime of service. An officer in the American Culinary Federation, he earned his dietary manager certification and progressed into positions as chef instructor, chef manager, dining services operations manager and finally, director of food service.