Stuck stopcock

The stopcock under my sink doesn't turn the water off fully and I want to repair/replace it. I have a stopcock outside under the kitchen window, 2 feet down. It's one of those with a small 'bar' on it rather than a tap, and you turn it quarter of a turn to turn it off, then another quarter turn to turn it on, etc. I have a long T-bar with the appropriate end for fitting over the tap. The problem is I can't shift it.
I did manage to operate it back in September just after we moved in. All it needed then was a squirt of WD-40 and a little bit of force. Now, I've given it copious amounts of WD-40 and a *lot* of force (probably more than I ought to) and it won't budge at all.
There's a stopcock across the road belonging to Scottish Water, but it serves two other properties here, and I don't want to mess around with it.
Any suggestions? Is it time to admit defeat and call a plumber?
--
Steve Loft
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. 1417ft ASL
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

it. And if it's your only way of turning the water off, they should do it for free. Thames Water did this for a neighbour of ours but I don't think he had an internal stopcock at all (or more likely couldn't find it).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
stuart noble wrote:

It's definitely mine - it's mentioned in the deeds.
I did phone them and say I had several dripping taps to fix (which is true) thinking that they would send someone round to turn off the water FOC in the interests of water conservation, but they say I should get a plumber.
--
Steve Loft
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. 1417ft ASL
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 12 Jan 2004 14:57:50 +0000, Steve Loft wrote:

The one outside yes. That is the demarkation point between their pipework and responsiblity and your pipework and responsibilty.

Does it specifically say that the stop cock is your actual property or just that this is the stop cock *for* your property? (Or similar words). If it definately states it is your property then there should be another water board one further upstream...
I suspect it's in the deeds just to tell you where it is. I couldn't find the external stopcock here. Called the water board and on the morning he turned up I found it about half an hour before hand 25 yards down the road. There is am 18" high concrete marker post against the wall but summer vegitation grows to 3'+...

Provided the external one is the water boards call 'em back and say you can't find it or that you can't turn it on/off.
--
Cheers snipped-for-privacy@howhill.com
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dave Liquorice wrote:

The deeds specifically say that I am responsible for its maintenance, and the pipework up to my neigbours' boundaries. I am also jointly responsible for some of the stopcocks and pipework on my neighbours' properties.
When the snow has gone I'll try to work out where all these other stopcocks are!
--
Steve Loft
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. 1417ft ASL
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 13 Jan 2004 08:52:18 +0000, Steve Loft wrote:

Sounds like a hang over from an old private water supply to a small group of houses. Where the mains connects to this system there should be a water board stop cock. Of course closing that will shut of your neighbours as well...
However you need a stopcock somethere that will work just for you. Suggest you chat to your neighbours and arrange a mutually convient time for you to shut the main stopcock and change your internal one. Shouldn't take to long if you are ready to with all the bits required to cut the pipe and bung on the new valve. Once the new valve is connected (and closed) you can turn the main stopcock back on. 10mins?
At some point in the future it maybe worth checking all the other stopcocks and have replacement session in one hit when the weather is more conducive to working in a wet hole.
One though that has just occured about why your external stopcock has seized so quickly after last use is that you mentioned WD40. If this is a plastic valve the solvents in the WD40 may have done nasty things to the plastics, or even any O rings in a metal valve...
--
Cheers snipped-for-privacy@howhill.com
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dave Liquorice wrote:

I'll just wait for the power/water to be off again, shouldn't be long...

Good point. Can't tell what the valve's made of at all, other than the metal ridge along the top.
--
Steve Loft
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. 1417ft ASL
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Has the valve got a bar handle or wheel head ? If it's a proper stopcock then it should have a bar handle on it and these can be turned gently with the help of a ring spanner on one of the ends to give your hand a bit more leverage. When you get it moving freely again make sure you don't turn it fully open until it stops, but leave it a bit slack and it helps to keep it free for the next time it's needed to be turned off. When these valves are turn on until they're hard open they seize against the gearing inside and are very difficult to turn off again.
Failing that. Get or make a Toby key and turn the water supply off to your house, but make sure the supply is only for your house and not anyone else's nearby as well. That'll make the job a whole lot quicker and safer, and you'll know it's done properly.
--
http://www.basecuritysystems.no-ip.com

Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
BigWallop wrote:

I think that the thing I am trying to turn is actually a Toby. It's nearly 3 feet underground so I can't reach it. It has a metal bar along the top of it, an inch or so long, and I turn it quarter of a turn in either direction to turn the water off, using the tool I bought which I think is probably a Toby Key. It's about 4 ft long, T-shaped, with a 'claw' type thing on the end that fits over the bar on the valve. Worked fine in September, won't budge it now.
I can't mess with the valve out in the road as that supplies two other houses too.
So I guess maybe my question should be "how do I unstick a stuck Toby?". Without digging, preferably!
--
Steve Loft
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. 1417ft ASL
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve Loft wrote:

Use a longer lever.
put bits of pipe over the T bar ends and get a mate in to handle one side.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The first part of my reply was meant for the stopcock in the house. :-))
--
http://www.basecuritysystems.no-ip.com

Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
BigWallop wrote:

Ah, right, sorry :)
Well, a bit more force on the inside tap (it has a bar handle) sloed the water to a trickle, enough to let me change the washers, thanks.
But I think I'd still like to replace it, so maybe a bit more leverage on the toby is called for.
--
Steve Loft
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. 1417ft ASL
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My non-working internal stopcock (no reachable outside one) was "replaced" with a working one by turning down the original as far as it would go (still gushing in my case, rather than dripping) and then chopping off the old pipe and shoving a pre-prepared lever ball valve and pipe stub into the old one. Tighten this up and turn off the new valve. The old valve can then be opened back up fully. Surprisingly little water escapes when you do it quickly.
Christian.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't want to make a stupid suggestion, but are you 100% sure you're turning it the right way.
I've stayed in one property with a 1/4-turn underground stop-cock (with/part of the water meter, IIRC) which turned the 'wrong' way for on/off. Most confusing.

Seems strange that it's stuck already, doesn't it.

That sounds like a route to being able to replace the one under the sink, though?

I'm sure finding a plumber is harder than what you're trying to do!
Will

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Will Dean wrote:

I'm pretty sure that it works in either direction, from the experimenting I did when I had it working. It just keeps turning without reaching a stop, and the water goes on or off every quarter turn.

Yes. But we've had some pretty cold weather up here since then, I wondered if that had something to do with it.

Tell me about it. I've been trying to get a heating engineer out to look at my oil-fired boiler for the last three months.
--
Steve Loft
Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. 1417ft ASL
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've never used it, but I have noticed pipe freeze spray in the screwfix catalogue which claims to give 30 mins working time and doesn't crack the pipe.
Presumably this is for exactly this type of situation where you could freeze the incoming main inside your house and hold off the wafer long enough for you to fit a new stop cock.
Anyone used this?
I thought I would have to do this myself a while back until I managed to locate the stopcock in my house, but I'd be interested to know if this works or not for future use.
Cheers, Stephen
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 12 Jan 2004 19:29:53 UTC, snipped-for-privacy@mcgshouse.fsworld.co.uk (Ginty) wrote:

I have to say I chickened out and got the water company to do it. It was a sod of a job at ground level, in a corner, lots of other bits of pipe round it. The guy took nearly three hours to fit a new stopcock (lever) and tidied all the pipes too.
Chose them because it was fixed price - 79.95 inclusive of parts, labour and VAT. Not bad, I thought, anyway.
--
Bob Eager
rde at tavi.co.uk
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Plumbers use CO2 to do the same thing; cheaper to run but expensive to buy. If you have contacts in a research lab, I find a thermos of liquid nitrogen works just fine (get help if you don't know how to handle it). The low temperature will make some plastics brittle, but copper is OK.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.