In the unlikely event that you find you have no running water, it’s useful to know which problems you can fix yourself and which ones need the support of a plumber or your water provider. That’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step checklist. It’ll help you identify and fix the simple problems, so you don’t need to spend money on a call-out.
Check all of your taps
If you haven’t got any water coming from your bathroom taps, but your kitchen sink is fine, it’s unlikely to be an issue with your mains supply. More likely it’s a plumbing problem, and we’ll help you troubleshoot some of the easy plumbing issues in a moment.
Ask your neighbours
If your neighbours’ supply is down too it’s probably a burst water main. You can get in touch with your water provider to check for local updates and to report any issues with your service. They should be able to advise how long it’ll take to fix and they’ll aim to get you back up and running as quickly as possible.
If your neighbours do have running water, it’s worth asking whether they’ve had any recent plumbing work done, just in case this has caused a problem with your supply.
Make sure your stopcock is open
You’ll find your stopcock valve housed at the point where the water supply enters your home, often under a kitchen sink. Once you’ve tracked it down, turn your mains tap (usually the kitchen cold tap) on at a slow rate and make sure the stopcock valve is turned all the way anti-clockwise. If the stopcock was the problem, you should see water restored once you’ve done this.
Check your outside stop valve
These are usually found near the boundary of your property, though sometimes you’ll share a water supply with neighbouring homes. External stop valves are located in pits that look a bit like small drains. They’ve a variety of different covers but most will be labelled with ‘W’ or ‘water’, so they’re easy to identify. To check the valve is fully on, open up the cover and turn the valve or key all the way anti-clockwise. Now pop back inside and check your mains tap again. If you’ve got a water meter, you’ll probably find your stop valve in the same meter chamber.
Check for frozen pipes
Icy conditions can spell trouble for pipes if they’re not properly insulated. And a lack of running water is just one of the problems caused by a frozen blockage. If you’ve got a modern high efficiency condensing boiler chances are it’s your condensate pipe that’s frozen. So locate the pipe outside – the same plastic pipe you’ll see coming from your boiler – and pour hot (but not boiling) water over it to melt the ice inside. You should find that your water flows normally again once it’s cleared.
Check your cold water cistern
If your pipes seem fine, your valves are all turned on and there doesn’t seem to be a mains-related issue, it might be that the ball valve in your cold water cistern is stuck. This would cause the tank to empty and stop the flow of water to your taps. You’ll need to dislodge it by carefully pulling the float arm until it’s free, and then giving it a good clean. You’ll then see the tank start to refill and your taps should run again.
One last thing to bear in mind is that you may share your water supply with other properties. This means that you might not be able to identify the source of the problem yourself and you’ll need to speak with your neighbours.
And if none of these tips help to get the water flowing again, call an expert. You can book a British Gas plumber for a one-off repair here, and we can even keep you covered for the year if you visit our website. If you’d prefer to source your own repair, you’ll find an up- to- date list of safe and reputable plumbers on the Watersafe.org website.