The 50plus

What to do if you have a water emergency

0845 22 50 495 or one of our local numbers during business hours or book online here.

Some of the most common water emergencies are set out here. If you are unsure about what to do if for instance you cannot turn off a tap, here are a few helpful guides.

If you have to deal with one these emergencies we can often provide immediate advice by telephone. These guides will assist you in identifying what to look for.

Can't turn off tap or overflow running

A tap is stuck open so the water is constantly running or dripping badly or an overflow from a toilet is running.

Similar issues

The toilet is constantly running into the bowl.


Turn the water off, preferably to the faulty item or if not shut off the water to the property.

What to look for

In many situations an isolating valve will be fitted. This can be simply adjusted to stop the water getting to the tap or toilet. You are looking for something like this.


The left hand picture is a close up of what you are looking for. The screw head in the centre allows water to pass when it is in line with the pipe. The screw should be quite easy to turn and if you don't have a screwdriver a small coin will often do the job.

Turn the screw on the valve 90 degrees water flow will stop.

The centre picture shows a valve in situ. Isolation valves, also known as service valves, come in a variety of guises. The right hand picture shows one on the end a flexible tap connector. There will be one isolation valve per tap/toilet or toilet. Mixer taps have two valves, one for cold and one for hot.

If there is no isolation valve fitted then you will need to isolate the water elsewhere. Where exactly depends on the water system in your house and if it is a hot tap or cold tap/toilet causing problems.

If the problem is a hot tap then call 50plus who will ask you some questions about your water and heating systems and advise accordingly.

If it's a cold tap/toilet:

Turn of the main stop cock in the house. If this is not possible and you are on a water meter turn the water off at the meter outside the house. If this is also impossible call for help!

If you have a loft tank and your house was not built in the last 20 years or so and the problem is not the kitchen cold tap (in which case turning off the main stop cock should have stopped the flow) then there is a strong possibility that the tap or toilet is fed from a header tank in the loft. In this case to get the water turned off to the tap or toilet the header tank will need to be emptied. The actions to take are these:

It should now be possible to access the offending tap / toilet or at least sleep peacefully after having arranged a repair visit.