Where is the stop tap? – September 2019

Normally this question is asked only when something is going wrong and water is running freely either across an area or areas of a ground floor or pouring through a ceiling from either a roof void or an upper floor. At that point it would be really useful to know quickly and with confidence at least three things –

(1) the location of the stop tap,

(2) that it is easy to get to and

(3) that it works.

Often, for historic reasons, the location of the stop tap may be in the most unexpected place. It may be “hidden” in a cupboard, often made expressly for that purpose, and in an inaccessible location. Sometimes the space around the stop tap is very limited meaning that actually gripping and turning the stop tap requires near super-human strength to exert sufficient torque to turn it. Finally, on many occasions the burst will be the first time in many, many years that the stop tap has been called upon. Often it will fail to budge or by contrast it will turn freely indicating it is broken. In both cases it will not turn off the water which is the moment when you will find that you need a plumber to arrive as soon as possible to freeze the pipe and install an effective shut off. Meanwhile, the water will still be running.

So, how many people in your church building know the answer to the three questions

(1) the location of the stop tap,

(2) that it is easy to get to and

(3) that it works?

Could anyone who does not know find out the answer easily? If the answer is “no“ the following steps may be helpful:

  1. Prepare a diagram of the church building which shows the location of the stop tap clearly. Put this where it can be seen.
  2. Check that the stop tap is easy to get to. If not, make arrangements to deal with this and make it accessible.
  3. Make sure that it works. Again if it does not work, then deal with this while there is no emergency so that in an emergency it will be effective.
  4. As we approach winter make sure that any pipework that is likely to be exposed to cold temperatures in the winter is properly lagged to prevent bursts.

Finally, as a general tip, you could also mark on the diagram where the electricity fuseboard and meters are located and the main gas shut off and meters. All this information is very helpful, especially in an emergency, and should be readily available.

Church Growth Trust is introducing a Property Book with its church buildings where all this and other property information is kept in a binder in one location, accessible to all. You may like to do this for your church building too.