Know the Emergency Valves, Switches & Levers in your Home

Posted on by Daniel, VHL

No matter how careful you are around the home, emergency situations can sometimes be unavoidable. Pipes can burst, boilers can break and in some cases, gas can leak, which is why you always need to be prepared and knowledgeable about the emergency levers in your home.

There are different emergency features in your home that are related to certain appliances and parts, such as plumbing, gas and electricity. This article will show you where these features are and what to do when you need to use them.


Stopcock & water isolation valve


Usually located under the sink, the stopcock is used to turn the water supply to your building off and on. In the event of a leak or a burst pipe, this should be your first port of call, before any repairs are attempted.

To turn off the water supply, simply turn the stopcock in a clockwise direction. If the water is still running after this, you should call a professional plumber and have them take a look at it for you. To keep it in the best possible condition, spray it with WD40 every so often, and check that it still works as it should.  A stopcock should look like this:

Isolation Valve

If a situation arises and you need to shut off the water to your taps but you don’t want to shut off the water to your whole property, then you need to look for an isolation valve. The valve itself is located under the sink, and attached to each tap. It is operated using a flathead screwdriver – turn the screw so the line is parallel with the arrow on the pipe to let the water flow through, or turn it 90 degrees to stop the flow of water. Isolation valves are usually connected to every water-using appliance in your house. They look like this:


Gas Isolation Valves

Gas isolation valveThe isolation valve is also a mechanism that is used to shut off the gas mains in the event of a leak. This is particularly important due to the volatile nature of gas.

If you notice the smell of gas in your home, or you spot another symptom of a gas leak (unusual bubbling in water, plants gently moving as if they are caught in a breeze) then use the flathead screwdriver to shut off the gas supply to an appliance. The valve is usually as close as practically possible to the appliance that it is used for.


Fuse Boxes

Electric fusebox

Fuse boxes can look very daunting to the untrained eye – an assortment of switches and buttons that can be confusing at the best of times. The fuse box controls and distributes the electricity in your home, and they have been used since the 1960s. There are three main elements to a fuse box: the main switch, Residual Current Devices (RCD) and circuit breakers.

Main Switch

As the name suggests, this is used to turn off the supply of electricity to your home. Some homes, depending on what appliances they have in them (e.g. storage heaters) may have more than one mains switch or fuse box.


These are used to trip the circuit in the event of dangerous conditions to prevent accidents. When the circuit is tripped, perhaps in the event of power surge, the electricity in the home is totally shut off to prevent further incident. It may then be a while before you can turn the electricity back on.

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breaker

Circuit breakers are used as protection devices in the fusebox. If they detect a fault, that particular circuit will be switched off. Once the fault is corrected, they can simply be switched back on using the switch.

Some fuse boxes may simply have fuses in place of circuit breakers. These are rewirable, and consist of fuse wire between two screws. If there is a fault or overload, the fuse wire will melt, breaking the circuit and disconnecting  the electricity.


The above features are crucial to any property, no matter what size it is. It is important that you are aware of their functions, where to find them and how to operate them so you can keep yourself safe in the event of a problem.


VHL are proud to provide first class electrical services including emergency repairs to customers in London and the Home Counties. If you would like to know more, please contact us by email or phone.

About Daniel, VHL

VHL's Technician of the Year +Daniel Chambers View all posts by Daniel, VHL →