How To Read A Water Meter

If you want to know about your household water consumption then it’s important to learn how to read your water meter.

Whether you’re looking to conserve water or lower your water bill, knowing your daily water usage can help you get started.

How to Read a Water Meter

Reading your water meter can also help you identify leaks in your home.

Here, you can learn how to read your water meter and test for any leakage in your home.

What Is A Water Meter?

A water meter is a measuring device that calculates the amount of water that passes through your property.

It is used by your water management company to calculate your water bills and average water consumption.

Reading your water meter regularly by subtracting the old reading from the new one means you can keep track of how much water you’re using on a daily basis and any irregularities caused by leaks.

The typical water meter uses a standard unit of measurement for volumes, such as cubic feet or gallons.

This unit is displayed on the meter, much like a car odometer, and records the cumulative amount that has been used on your property. 

Before reading your water meter, you’ll have to locate it first.

The majority of water meters are located on your front lawn or near the sidewalk, however, sometimes they appear in a side yard or your backyard.

The meter will be inside a box with a metal or plastic lid, reading “water” or “water meter”. To remove the lid, you need a long screwdriver, then pry it open gently from the side of the box.

Be careful when doing so as the cover may be hot, or could contain insects, reptiles, or other small animals that have made a home next to your water meter.

Once you have found your water meter, you need to determine if it’s an analog meter or a digital meter.

Think of your meter like a wristwatch when identifying your water meter.

How To Read An Analog Water Meter

The large sweep hand on the dial measures water use in gallons or cubic feet. For every gallon or cubic foot of water that passes through the water meter, the sweep hand moves from one number to the next, for example, 0 to 1.

A complete rotation equals 10 gallons or 10 cubic feet depending on the unit measured.

Most analog dials have a low-flow indicator that turns as water moves, used to identify leaks.

This typically looks like a small triangle, star, or gear. The cumulative measurement of water is displayed as the long number on the front of the meter.

How To Read A Digital Water Meter

The digital meter needs light for activation so you may need to shine some light on it.

The display alternates between the meter read and the flow rate.

The meter read equals the measurement of water used, while the flow rate equals the number of gallons (or cubic feet) per minute flowing through the water meter.

Some digital meters allow review of historical water use, which helps track water use trends, such as when leaks have occurred. 

How to Read a Water Meter (1)

How To Test For Leaks

If you find that your bills are higher than normal, or you’ve taken multiple meter readings and found the difference between your newest and last reading to be more than you expected, you may have a leak in your home.

You can do a simple leak test to check if this is the case.

Firstly, turn off all indoor and outdoor water appliances. You have to make sure you turn off every appliance that uses water for this test to work, so comb your house thoroughly for them.

After you’ve turned off all water outlets, check your water meter.

If you have a digital meter, look at the flow rate for at least ten flashes.

If it’s zero then you should have no leakage in your home, however, if it’s any other number then you have a leak that you need to fix.

If you suspect that you might have a slow leak, then follow the steps for an analog leak test below to make sure.

For an analog water meter, record the meter read on your odometer.

This will be your first reading. Once you’ve done this, wait twenty minutes to get an accurate second reading.

After twenty minutes have passed, go back to your water meter and take a second reading from your odometer.

Finally, compare the first and second readings. If you do not have a leak then both numbers should be the same.

Anything higher than zero means that there is a leak present in your home. 

Locating the leak is your next challenge. To do this, you can check all your outdoor and indoor water appliances yourself.

If this isn’t the most practical method for you, then contact your local plumber and they will perform an isolation test to locate the leak.

Some leaks may only appear at higher pressures and disappear during lower pressures.

If you suspect a leak, keep monitoring, and perform multiple tests over a period of time. Be sure to record your water usage and keep a log of these measurements.

If your leak tests come up negative but you’re still getting odd readings on your water meter, you may be experiencing water theft.

You should contact your water management company immediately if you suspect this is happening to you.

To Conclude

Checking your water meter periodically can help you lower your water bills, conserve water for a sustainable lifestyle, and identify leaks within your home.

Whether you have an analog or digital water meter, it’s easy to calculate your water usage and test for leaks.

Mike Noren