More than four in ten Britons don’t know how to turn off their gas valve, poll claims

Not understanding workings of a property can be dangerous and costly, campaign warns 

Astrid Hall
Friday 04 September 2020 15:13
A third said they would look online for instructions on how to turn off the gas
A third said they would look online for instructions on how to turn off the gas

Millions of Britons are putting their lives in danger and risk causing thousands of pounds worth of damage because they do not know how to turn off the essential live services supplying their homes.

Research revealed 43 per cent of homeowners would not know how to turn off their gas in the event of an accident.

A third admitted they would turn to the internet to find out how to locate the shut off valve.

A campaign launched by find-a-tradesperson service MyBuilder aims to educate homeowners and renters on the basic vital lessons every homeowner and renter needs to know.

The ‘Know Your Home’ campaign is a response to a survey of 2,000 UK homeowners and renters which exposed a worrying knowledge gap when it comes to the workings of their properties.

It revealed that a fifth would not know how to switch the electricity off.

Almost one in five (19 per cent) did not know how to turn off their water, with this figure rising to 38 per cent among 18- to 34-year-olds.

Not knowing how to locate these vital safety features can have potentially lethal consequences, as well as being costly to repair devastating water or fire damage.

One fifth of those surveyed has learned the hard way by discovering a major leak and not knowing how to turn the water off quickly.

This rises to 28 per cent among 18- to 34-year-olds, while just 11 per cent of over 55s have had the same thing happen to them.

A common issue includes putting a nail through a water pipe while working on loose floorboards.

Tenants and homeowners in London were the least likely to know how to turn their water off, while those in the north-east were most likely to know where the stopcock is to fix the situation.

Carl Goulding from, said: “It’s vital that all homeowners and tenants know how to turn off their live services.

“You never know when you might have to – and not being able to act quickly in the event of an emergency can have devastating consequences.

“We want to make sure that every homeowner or tenant has the basic knowledge so that if something does go wrong, they know what to do fast.

“Being too slow to turn off the water supply when there’s a leak could end up costing thousands of pounds worth of damage, so spending just a little bit time learning the basics will be time well spent.”

While millions didn't know how to turn their essential services off in the event of an emergency, many were also unaware of how to read the metres for their utilities, as 14 per cent would have to use Google to find out how to read their electricity or gas meter.

Some homeowners and tenants could be risking their lives using unverified information from the internet to carry out jobs which should only be tackled by professionals.

More than one in 10 (11 per cent) have Googled 'how to fix the boiler', while seven per cent have searched 'how to replace a gas cooker'.

This is despite it being against the law for anyone not on the Gas Safe Register to carry out work on a gas boiler, gas fire, cooker or hob.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) also said they had risked drilling into a wall while not knowing whether there were pipes or wiring behind it.

While 20 per cent admitted they did not know how to turn off their water, six per cent have been forced to call out a professional to do it for them.

The same number have brought an electrician round to switch the power back on.

It also emerged 28 per cent of Britons would not know how to bleed a radiator in the event air had been trapped in the heating system.

And 12 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds admitted they have searched online for how to change a lightbulb.

Father-of-two Ian Rickerby, 41, from Shepperton in Surrey, knows first-hand how important knowledge of essential live services is.

As he was drilling holes in the floor for a new toilet, his hot drill bit went straight through a gas pipe.

“As soon as I did it, I knew it was bad. There was a sickening hissing sound and the sudden smell of gas.

“I was drilling through tiles, so the drill bit was very hot. One spark could have caused a huge explosion.

“I screamed to my wife to get the children out of the house – luckily I knew that the gas valve is usually on the box at the front of the house so I immediately shut it down and called the emergency number.

“I grabbed my kids and hugged them. I was shaking and in tears at the thought about what could have happened to me and my family, it was terrifying.”


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