Temperatures are plummeting, but there’s still time to make sure your home is winter-ready – and top of the list should be to find, check and label the internal stop tap.

In the event of a sudden freeze-thaw the internal stop tap will shut off the water supply quickly if a burst pipe threatens to cause damage. Knowing where it is and checking it is working properly could save thousands of pounds and a lot of heartache.

South East Water, which supplies drinking water to 2.2 million customers across Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, is backing the drive to cut the number of homes damaged by burst pipes this winter.

It has joined forces with WaterSafe, the UK register of approved plumbers, to encourage households to make sure everyone knows the location of the internal stop tap, to label it and to make sure it’s working properly. The campaign is part of the Met Office’s wider WinterReady campaign which encourages everyone to think about what they can do to prepare and cope with severe weather.

Steve Andrews, Head of Central Operations at South East Water said: “Just knowing where the internal stop tap is can save a lot of time and, as a result a lot of damage, in the event of a pipe bursting. It should only take a few minutes but it can make a big difference in the event of a plumbing emergency.”

The internal stop tap, sometimes also known as a stopcock or stop valve, should be turned clockwise to turn off the water supply. Common places to find it include:

  • Under the kitchen sink
  • Kitchen cupboard
  • Downstairs bathroom or toilet
  • Garage or utility room
  • Cellar
  • Under the stairs

Property owners are responsible for the internal stop tap so if you can’t locate it or it’s not working, contact an approved plumber for help at watersafe.org.uk

Pipes in unheated areas should always be protected against winter temperatures with insulating lagging to help prevent them from freezing and bursting in the first instance. Visit watersafe.org.uk/winter for further information and ‘how-to’ videos on protecting homes in winter weather.

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