How to locate a stopcock

Written by truell bliss
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How to locate a stopcock
A stopcock is used to control water that flows through a pipe. (valve image by Goran Bogicevic from

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.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Flashlight

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  1. 1

    Examine the sidewalk 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 flathead 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.

    How to locate a stopcock
    Water meters are somtimes situated under a sidewalk. (water meter image by jimcox40 from
  2. 2

    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.

    How to locate a stopcock
    A stopcock may be part of the plumbing on an interior basement wall. (Perfect Plumbing image by Heydj from
  3. 3

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

    How to locate a stopcock
    A stopcock may be located under a kitchen sink. (kitchen sink image by jedphoto from

Tips and warnings

  • If no sidewalk 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.

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