The internal stopcock for isolating the water supply to our house is leaking
slightly and I'd like to open it up and replace the washer or maybe even
replace the tap itself. Of course to do that I need to turn off the supply
at the external stopcock.
After rooting around a bit I found what I presume is the external stopcock
under a small metal cover in the garden. The actual tap is about 1-2 meters
below the cover. I was going to get myself a long tool for turning this tap
off, but someone advised me to be very careful since they can be completely
seized up. Our house is 20 years old and (afaik) the external stopcock has
never been used in that time.
I'm now worried that if I apply too much force to the tap then it will shear
or crack leaving me with an expensive bill. Does anyone have any idea of how
likely this is and any advice on the best course of action?
If the water is leaking from the stopcock from the spindle of the handle,
this can be fixed without turning off the water. You back off the spindle
nut and withdraw it. You then wrap thin string around the threads (used to
be hemp, but you must now used hemp substitute) and jointing compound (Boss
White substitute). Then screw the nut back on tightly. When you unscrew the
nut, it will leak a bit more quickly, but shouldn't gush or anything.
You may even get away with just tightening the nut a bit.
Really? So if I go outside and pound my stopcock (hypothetical,
since I don't actually have one) with a lump of iron until it
breaks, then they'll fix it for free? I think not.
Same applies if you break it while trying to shut it off. They
aren't obliged to fix it for free, since it may well have been
user error that resulted in it breaking.
Well it is their tap, they will fix it. They may have you charged with
criminal damage though if they know you clobbered it to death :-)
If it breaks during normal use, I would have said it was defective anyway
and needs replacing.
All the info available on repairs by water companies seems to concentrate
on pipework. The pipework up to and including the stop tap in the street is
definitely the WC's responsibility though.
Most WC's also appear to offer free leak repairs to the householder's
underground pipework too. Leaks cost them money, so it is in their interest
to minimize them.
AFAIK, most offer the first leak (up to a certain length I think) free.
Subsequent leaks etc, are not free. And they're repairs, not replacement.
So a rusted iron pipe may leaking in one place, may well leak other times.
I was in a similar situation as youself. Called water company and they came
and cleaned out the muck on top of their stopcock and checked it worked.
They said I could buy special long key to operate it from plumbers merchant
but if I didn't want to do that they would turn off the water for me on
request and turn it back on again when I'd replaced my internal stopcock. I
went for the second option, no problem at all.
Made myself a wooden 'tool' to turn my outside stopcock - just 2 x 1" with
a 'v' cut in the end and a handle screwed on. When I tried to turn off
the water I was too gentle and despite thinking I'd closed the stopcock,
water still flowed very fast. I had to snug it down a bit more to turn it
off. No problems.
I replaced my under sink stopcock with a plastic compression model from
bes.co.uk. It was 25 mm MDPE (the blue tubing) to 222 mm copper, and very
easy to fit.
All the Water coy stopcocks round here are the square drive type and deep in
the ground, so it the proper tool or nothing.
Relatives stopcock outside old terraaced propery was u/s so they replaced
with a new plastic job encased in polystyrene.
It came with its own plastic key which is stored in the hole, very handy.
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