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  • FIRST POST
    nurse_nina
    broken stopcock... help!
    • #1
    • 18th Oct 10, 5:23 PM
    broken stopcock... help! 18th Oct 10 at 5:23 PM
    our stopcock under kitchen sink won't turn off, and we need to plumb in new appliances/pipes... we know where our water meter and stop valve is outside, but we haven't got a key to turn it off (recently purchased house) rang the ever helpful seven trent and was told we could get one from a DIY store, have rang a plumming specialist as well as asking our own plumber and they can't help... seven trent say they can get an engineer to us in about 2 weeks! (really not helpful seeing as we already have the stuff to plumb in and more to the point, if we do have a leak, can't turn the mains water off!) have also asked 4 neighbours and no one knows or has a key!
    what can we do? advice appreciated.
Page 2
  • lapat
    Errm not sure about this, if you break it then you could be causing a main flood which is a lot of water and can then reduce pressure to the whole street or can even cut off the water to more then one property.
    you do not have to notify the water undertaker of your intention to operate your supply to your property, and yes if you break the tap then yes you could be liable to be recharged but also if you in turn had a burst in your property and was unable to isolate the supply with the external tap due to defective or missing stop tap. then im sure your insurance company would be sending a letter in for recompense.

    There is no way to say for 100% that the main stop tap will only turn off your property as a lot of older houses/ flats share a mains tap and the internal is used for the property.
    entirely true but there is nothing stopping you knocking on your neighbours doors and informing them of your intentions to carry out repairs

    Also not sure what a stop tap key would be doing in a boundary box for a meter ?
    a plastic one about 8 inches long

    The main stop tap in not always located at the meter point for each property either.
    all external meter boxes have a stop tap in to isolate the meter for repairs/exchanges and nost should have there plastic stop tap key so as you can isolate it yourself in case of emergency.


    Oh and it would take a lot of WD40 to make the water unsafe, all treatment plants are able to cope with household use for things like WD40 and other sprays. Just so as to not scare people.

    it may take a lot of wd40 to make the water unsafe but when you complain about a petro chemical or musty taste to your water make sure you inform the inspector that you have used wd40 on your fitments it will stop them taking a costly set of samples to prove that there is no issue with there water supply.
    and along with this what happens when you have contaminated your water supply with a PENATRATING oil and there is a burst outside in the street and its sucks all that loveley greasy water back into the street.
    Originally posted by Gothicfairy
    hope this helps
    need to have a lightbulb moment
  • Premier
    a plastic one about 8 inches long
    Originally posted by lapat
    Never seen a plastic one. I would expect it to snap if it's plastic - these valves are hardly ever moved so usually need quite a bit of welly. (... which is why they may fracture which the water company will charge you for as it's their property if you are not careful). Of course, if you've employed a water company official to come out and turn it off for you, and it snaps, it's not your problem.

    Hope you've got long arms. These valves can be anything up to about 3 feet underground. It helps avoid damage should something heaby (like a vehicle) pass over them and also protects them from freezing in winter)

    They are also, as I said, usually covered in water, muck and other nasties (like rats urine!) Not something I would recommend sticking any part of your body into, especially your whole arm up to your armpit

    all external meter boxes have a stop tap in to isolate the meter for repairs/exchanges and nost should have there plastic stop tap key so as you can isolate it yourself in case of emergency.
    Originally posted by lapat

    In all the houses I've ever accessed one of these (and that's quite a few ranging from about 10 years old to about 80 years old), I've never come across one of these in a meter box.

    Why would they put such an item in a meter box? The valve itself is usually located on the pavement under a small access cover as shown. Even if there's a water meter, it's still usually located in such a location. If a number of valves/meters are located together, then they may sometimes be located in one big access pit.

    Having said that, the only house I've been to in the Severn Trent water area with a meter had that meter located under the sink (with electronic remote control reading possibility to an outside wall). That house was about 10 years old, so I don't know if that only applies to new builds in that area where meters were installed from new, or indeed if it's even usual for the ST water area.
    Last edited by Premier; 06-11-2010 at 8:43 AM.
    "Now to trolling as a concept. .... Personally, I've always found it a little sad that people choose to spend such a large proportion of their lives in this way but they do, and we have to deal with it." - MSE Forum Manager 6th July 2010
  • Premier
    Please, OP, if you've got that photo of your valve, I'd still be interested in seeing it and how it differs from the universal one I showed earlier
    "Now to trolling as a concept. .... Personally, I've always found it a little sad that people choose to spend such a large proportion of their lives in this way but they do, and we have to deal with it." - MSE Forum Manager 6th July 2010
  • Gothicfairy
    I live in a STW area and have worked with new builds and major repairs (ie sub alts) and have to agree with Premier

    There can be a small tap by the meter for maintence but that should not accessed by anyone other then the water company as the meter remains their legal property and I have not seen the key left in the meter box either.
    I have never seen a small plastic key that could turn the main stop tap, it is normally a great metal thing and again I am with Premier on the kind I have seen.

    Also not sure why you would complain to the water company about odd tasting water after spraying WD40 onto pipe work. I do understand where you are going with it but I think that maybe it is being taken too far, "costly set of samples to prove that there is no issue with there water supply." I know a guy who did this and would always taste or smell the water first and could pick out things used in the household quite easily, and also they would not come at first call to take samples...you are advised to keep a diary of when it is worse and if it gets better etc then if it is exactly the same they would take tests.

    I don't agree with putting things in to the water course but I don't think there is any need to suggest that a small squirt of the stuff would make the whole streets water bad if there was a burst.

    Oh and while I think about it : you stated a DG3 for interruption of supply in another thread but here you are saying you can knock on your neighbours doors and tell them you are turning their water off, what would then happen if you broke the stop tap and they had no water for 12 plus hours ? Do you think the water company would pay for that ?

    I honestly don't think it is a good idea for anyone to be messing around with the mains at all as the problems could be massive.
    There is a race of men that don't fit in; A race that can't stand still;
    So they break the hearts of kith and kin, and roam the world at will.

    Robert Service
    • deanos
    • By deanos 6th Nov 10, 12:13 PM
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    • 5,604 Thanks
    deanos
    There can be a small tap by the meter for maintence but that should not accessed by anyone other then the water company as the meter remains their legal property and I have not seen the key left in the meter box either.
    I have never seen a small plastic key that could turn the main stop tap, it is normally a great metal thing and again I am with Premier on the kind I have seen.
    Originally posted by Gothicfairy
    The tap by the meter is also your stop tap, you are allowed to use it as that's what it is for, the new ones used are plastic so far less problematic compared to the old ones that can come off in your hand !

    When people ask for a meter they usually replace the old stop tap and fit it with a brand new meter box which incorporates a stop tap. (unless on a shared supply or if the water co. prefers a internal fit)

    Depending on the water co. if you ask for your stop tap to be replaced they automatically fit a meter box.
  • Gothicfairy
    I am that anal that I went to look at a Kent meter and there is no tap....The main stop tap is at least 100 yards up the road in a metal box rather then a plastic covered one.

    I think we might have to agree to disagree on this one as most of the main stop taps that I have seen have been metal and quite hard to reach and turn and require a metal tool.
    Maybe it is that here we have more properties on shared mains or that STW do things differently but the only meter I can name of the top of my head that has a tap is a fusion and with the reports of them over recording I am not sure I would want to turn anything off near them and then have to fight to sort out the bill if they broke.

    I should think though that the OP has this sorted now so hopefully they will come back and update but knowing this part of the forum that might be a long wait.
    There is a race of men that don't fit in; A race that can't stand still;
    So they break the hearts of kith and kin, and roam the world at will.

    Robert Service
    • mcc100
    • By mcc100 6th Nov 10, 4:16 PM
    • 564 Posts
    • 643 Thanks
    mcc100
    Most of the external water meters fitted by Anglian Water have a plastic tap next to the meter that is used to isolate the supply.
    • deanos
    • By deanos 6th Nov 10, 4:40 PM
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    • 5,604 Thanks
    deanos
    Most of the external water meters fitted by Anglian Water have a plastic tap next to the meter that is used to isolate the supply.
    Originally posted by mcc100

    Yes this is true in fact they all have a stop tap in the chamber , this is the area i know about, i guess they all do things different in different companys

    Seems hard work for ST if they have to turn off supply's 100 yards away to change a meter
    • mcc100
    • By mcc100 6th Nov 10, 5:06 PM
    • 564 Posts
    • 643 Thanks
    mcc100
    Seems hard work for ST if they have to turn off supply's 100 yards away to change a meter
    Originally posted by deanos
    It does seem a bit odd.
  • Gothicfairy
    I am not sure they do it with every meter for sure but the one I was looking at honestly did not have anything other then a screw which I guess could be to turn off the supply but there is no way in hell any plastic key etc could have done it.

    The main tap is about 100 yards away as it is outside my neighbours house

    but also saying that STW don't change meters unless they really really have to ..lol

    as I say though, only know what I see...
    There is a race of men that don't fit in; A race that can't stand still;
    So they break the hearts of kith and kin, and roam the world at will.

    Robert Service
  • lapat
    I live in a STW area and have worked with new builds and major repairs (ie sub alts) and have to agree with Premier

    There can be a small tap by the meter for maintence but that should not accessed by anyone other then the water company as the meter remains their legal property and I have not seen the key left in the meter box either.
    I have never seen a small plastic key that could turn the main stop tap, it is normally a great metal thing and again I am with Premier on the kind I have seen.
    gothic im talking about aplas style boxs that are located at the boundary with the 8" plastic stop tap key

    Also not sure why you would complain to the water company about odd tasting water after spraying WD40 onto pipe work. I do understand where you are going with it but I think that maybe it is being taken too far, "costly set of samples to prove that there is no issue with there water supply." I know a guy who did this and would always taste or smell the water first and could pick out things used in the household quite easily, and also they would not come at first call to take samples...you are advised to keep a diary of when it is worse and if it gets better etc then if it is exactly the same they would take tests.
    so the statutary guidelines from ofwat that state any taste or odour or ilness compalint where the water may be in question dont warrant samples...????????

    I don't agree with putting things in to the water course but I don't think there is any need to suggest that a small squirt of the stuff would make the whole streets water bad if there was a burst.

    regardless if its a small squirt or not wd40 is an active oil ingress ingredient and under coshh regulations it is not suitable for drinking water purposes/applications

    and if you have a petrol leak on your drive and it contaminates the 25mm pe shoule you not isolate supply and possibly mains until cleaned..?


    Oh and while I think about it : you stated a DG3 for interruption of supply in another thread but here you are saying you can knock on your neighbours doors and tell them you are turning their water off, what would then happen if you broke the stop tap and they had no water for 12 plus hours ? Do you think the water company would pay for that ?
    read the dg3 guidlines 3rd party damage i.e a broken stop tap from a contractor operating supply to property does not fall into the dg3 realms

    I honestly don't think it is a good idea for anyone to be messing around with the mains at all as the problems could be massive.

    as i said before anyone is entitled to operate the supply to there properties.
    Originally posted by Gothicfairy
    thanks for your interesting quotes
    need to have a lightbulb moment
  • lapat
    Never seen a plastic one. I would expect it to snap if it's plastic - these valves are hardly ever moved so usually need quite a bit of welly. (... which is why they may fracture which the water company will charge you for as it's their property if you are not careful). Of course, if you've employed a water company official to come out and turn it off for you, and it snaps, it's not your problem.

    firstly you cant employ a water company official to carry out your work there a regulated business so they cant take payment.
    and as below the aplas style meter boxes fitted from 1995 onwards have a plastic stop tap fitment(although they may not be left in at install)

    Hope you've got long arms. These valves can be anything up to about 3 feet underground. It helps avoid damage should something heaby (like a vehicle) pass over them and also protects them from freezing in winter)
    the new style aplas fitments are general shallo enough for oyu to allow operation via hand
    and the industry standard it 2ft 6" to pass a water fitting inspection

    They are also, as I said, usually covered in water, muck and other nasties (like rats urine!) Not something I would recommend sticking any part of your body into, especially your whole arm up to your armpit


    In all the houses I've ever accessed one of these (and that's quite a few ranging from about 10 years old to about 80 years old), I've never come across one of these in a meter box.

    Why would they put such an item in a meter box? The valve itself is usually located on the pavement under a small access cover as shown. Even if there's a water meter, it's still usually located in such a location. If a number of valves/meters are located together, then they may sometimes be located in one big access pit.

    Having said that, the only house I've been to in the Severn Trent water area with a meter had that meter located under the sink (with electronic remote control reading possibility to an outside wall). That house was about 10 years old, so I don't know if that only applies to new builds in that area where meters were installed from new, or indeed if it's even usual for the ST water area.
    Originally posted by Premier


    thanks !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    need to have a lightbulb moment
    • deanos
    • By deanos 7th Nov 10, 7:56 AM
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    • 5,604 Thanks
    deanos
    BTW the latest boxes in my area don't have keys they just work on a 1/4 turn knob in the bottom of the box, so much easier to work with and turn off

    Im curious Gothicfairy can you take pics of the meter chamber you are referring to.
  • Gothicfairy
    I can once I get a camera

    The meter is a kent (mechanical) can't read the number but it is kent XXXX could be a k90 ?? The chamber itself if a small hole really but there is only the meter in there and nothing else.Top like a CD case. Old meter I would think though.

    I will try and get a piccy asap


    I also did not say that any illness etc did not warrent samples etc just that I don't know of any water company that come out on the first call from a customer about funny colour or tasting water and take expensive tests as a lot of times it is the internal pipe work at fault and that is something that can be checked without the need for any tests outside of the home.
    There is a race of men that don't fit in; A race that can't stand still;
    So they break the hearts of kith and kin, and roam the world at will.

    Robert Service
    • uncovered
    • By uncovered 14th Nov 10, 8:27 AM
    • 54 Posts
    • 35 Thanks
    uncovered
    wow, just reading this and its interesting to see peoples views on situations. A little bit of info is sometimes a dangerous thing.

    I will add my two penneth then regarding this stoptap situation, even though this thread is a few weeks old.

    each water company use different meter boxes (external fits) so you will find that when people comment on threads like these there will be many different installations and will be hard to work out which box is fitted.

    In my area I come across three boxes in the main.

    A saunders box (installed roughly late 80's) This has a larger than average plastic circular lid. Once lifted up you will be greeted with a brass stoptap with the plug next to it.

    Atplast box - Smaller circular lid which was made installed between late 80's up until 2006/7 ish. Atplast is short for the manufacturers name, Atlantic Plastics. Inside these boxes you will will need to remove the polystyrene frost protection and you will be greeted with either a metal or plastic removable key. Depending on when the box was manufactured will depend on what key will be fitted. These keys drop into a hexagonal socket at the bottom of the box.

    Ebco box - These boxes have a rectangular flip. The stoptap in these boxes are a flat key which are just a quarter turn on and off.

    The new boxes we are now fitting are circular lids with a flat plastic stoptap in the chamber which turn off and on like a normal tap. All these meter boxes, except the saunders box, are easily operated by hand and are not installed that deep.

    When I have visited different parts of the country I have seen other style boxes, because we are all sad and have mini busmans holidays dont we!

    As for the WD40, people have quite rightly stated that you should never use this on any water fitting, If this gets into the supply you will start to get an oily film on the water and it will take an age to get rid of that. We have a WD40 equivalent which we have had on trial which is used in the food industry which is food grade oil. That is acceptable evidentally.

    Again different water companies will have different charging policies, but in my area we would not charge to turn your water off but would charge to turn it on. It is illegal to charge for turn offs apparentely, so we turn off free, but if you want it back on then its 55

    You can ofcourse turn the supply off yourself, but if you break it then you could be liable for the cost of renewal which can be up to 500.
    Last edited by uncovered; 14-11-2010 at 8:33 AM.
    • deanos
    • By deanos 14th Nov 10, 9:56 AM
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    • 5,604 Thanks
    deanos
    The new boxes around here are the circular Ebco boundary box with quarter turn and sliding head , they also have loads of room inside and are self draining and not sealed, a much improved box

    And they were call Atplas not Atplast some pics below in the link

    http://www.tycowaterworks.com/pdf/METERBOXES/Atplas%20Boundary%20Box%20Data%20Sheet.pdf
  • mart.vader
    WD40 water contamination
    are you real do you know what wd40 or easing oil would do to contaminate the water supply if it was to ingress into the water.
    Originally posted by lapat
    I was in the water industry for 27 years and I can tell you it's absolutely impossible to contaminate the water supply in this way. The water pressure is too high - if it were not, the water would not reach your sink. In any leak, the water comes out of the leak, it doesnt flow back into it. In any area, there are hundreds of leaks on the water cos network, leaking about 40% of their water into the ground, into contaminated ground, into rivers, into sewers etc. but there is no risk of contamination.

    For the OP, IF you have an outside meter it will be probably under the footpath, under a plastic or metal cover, if so, right next to the meter in the pit, there will be a valve, - it may not look like a valve, it may look like the top of a tap but with only a T head to turn it or it may be a plastic recess that takes a hexagonal key, but can actually be turned with a large screwdriver or it may have a square head.

    If its a metal valve, and its stuck, you will need to gently work it back and forth to get it moving. Be careful not to break the valve or the water co will (try to) make you pay for it.

    If there is no meter, just a valve, it might have a square head, a T head or even rarely a triangular head - depends which part of the country or even which part of the city you are in.

    (as well as the tap under the sink, many houses have an additional valve where the supply pipe enters the house, maybe under the hall floorboards?)

    If there is no valve o/s your house, i.e. if there never was one or if its knackered or buried, the water co can do a shut-down of the whole street. (ignore the postings above that imply you can do it yourself - trust me - you cant - You need a large iron key about 2 ft long and an iron bar 3ft long to turn it, and you will have to explain to your neighbours why their water has gone off)

    The water Co. will want your plumber to be there ready to replace the inside stopvalve in as little time as possible.

    Edit; the two posts above mine are accurate in their description of meter boxes (or pits) - you can turn your own water off, but dont try to turn the whole street off. I stand by my comments about contamination.
    Last edited by mart.vader; 21-11-2010 at 1:34 PM. Reason: Additional info
  • mpf013
    I have a meter with one of these small plastic stopcock keys. I tried to turn the water off by it but it was stuck. I didn't want to turn the key too far since it would no doubt break. The solution was to go to my socket set and get a 7/16ths socket and attach as many drive shafts to it as possible. Although the socket is slightly too large for the head of the valve, it was enough that I could get the valve to move. Slowly and carefully I worked it back and forward a few times and now my plastic key works a treat. I didn't damage the valve head.
  • lapat
    I was in the water industry for 27 years and I can tell you it's absolutely impossible to contaminate the water supply in this way.
    Originally posted by mart.vader

    so what did you do for 27 years and when did you leave...as wd40 was took out of use in the water industry over ten years ago. under revised drinking water regs and coshh regs
    need to have a lightbulb moment
  • mart.vader
    so what did you do for 27 years and when did you leave...as wd40 was took out of use in the water industry over ten years ago. under revised drinking water regs and coshh regs
    Originally posted by lapat
    I've never known any plumber give a hoot about what they applied to the outside of a water-pipe, to free a stopvalve. After all, any bacteria ( or wd40 molecules) would have to swimming against the water flow, upstream, like tiny salmon, to get into the water supply.
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