Your stop tap – what is it, why do you need it, and where is it?!

Picture the scene – you’re hanging some pictures up in the lounge, but as you hammer the nail into the wall, you hear an ominous sound…yep, you’ve hit a water pipe. Next thing you know there’s water everywhere and your beautiful new canvas is floating around the lounge! This is where your stop tap comes in, as knowing where it is can be the difference between a slightly soggy sofa, or a fully flooded lounge. With 40% of people not sure how to turn off the water supply in their home*, we’re here to help, with our quick and easy guide to all things stop tap.

What is a stop tap?

A stop tap is a tap inside your home that controls the overall flow of water into the property– you might know it as a stopcock or stop valve instead. Most of the time it looks like one of these:


Why do I need to know where it is?

If you need to stop the water supply into your home then your stop tap is the thing for the job. If you’ve got a leak or a burst pipe, turning the water off at the stop tap quickly is really important to limit the amount of water damage.

It’s also a really good idea to turn your water off at the stop tap before heading off on holiday. That way, should you end up with a water leak while you’re away, you’ll have stopped any new water entering your home which can massively reduce the amount of possible damage from the leak. This is even more important in winter when frozen and burst pipes are a bigger risk – the last thing you want is to come home to a flooded home.

Ok, so where can I find it?

You’re most likely to find it in one of these places:

  • Under the sink
  • Under the stairs
  • In your airing cupboard, if you have one
  • Under the floorboards near the front door
  • Near the front door
  • In the garage, utility room, bathroom or cellar

Great, found it! Now what?!

Well for most of the time, there’s nothing you need to do with it, as long as it’s doing its job properly and the water flow to your home is normal. But if you end up with a frozen or burst pipe, another sort of leak, or need to turn the water off before going on holiday, this is your stop tap’s time to shine!

If you need to turn it off, turn it carefully in a clockwise direction – as the saying goes, lefty loosey, righty tighty! It will take a few turns to turn the water fully off, just don’t turn it more than it comfortably allows you to. Once it’s turned off, you’ll still have some left over water in the pipes inside your home, so you can turn on other taps to let this drain if you need to and it’s safe to do this.

When it’s safe to turn the water back on, just slowly turn the stop tap a few turns in an anti-clockwise direction this time. It might take a little while for the water to flow through once you turn other taps back on, as it’s got to make its way back through the pipes again. If someone has come in to repair the leak for you, they’ll let you know when it’s safe to turn the water back on. They might also do it for you before they finish the job.

So, now you’re all clued up on all things stop tap, and know what to do if you need to turn your water off. For ways to try and stop water leaks happening in the first place, or if you’ve found yourself with a frozen or burst pipe and need to know what else to do, take a look at our guide. Don’t forget you can check your cover and make a claim at any time, 24/7, in your Account.

*The survey was conducted by esure and market research firm Opinium in October 2023 and included 2,000 adults across the UK.

You might also be interested in

Lady entering home carrying a pumpkin

Don't be scared, be prepared this autumn
Take a look at our seasonal security tips, so you don't become a stat


Protect your home now - so you can chill when it's chilly
Here's some simple ways to prepare your home inside and out for the winter ahead