There are several reasons why you’d want to be able to read your water meter. First, you might be interested in just how much water you use in a day. By reading your meter at the beginning and the end of the day you can compare the two totals tell how much water you and your family used. The second reason is to check for leaks. If you turn off all of the taps in your house, look at your meter and it is turning, chances are you have a leak somewhere. Here are some hints to help you find and read your water meter.
Locating Your Water Meter
Your water meter is generally located near the curb in front of your home. Water meters are typically housed in a concrete box usually marked “water”. Carefully remove the lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver or pliers. Visually examine the area around the meter to make sure there are no harmful insects or other animals.
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Checking for Possible Leaks
Here a few steps to help determine if you may have a leak and where it may be.
How to Detect Leaks
To test for leaks in your plumbing system, stop all indoor and outdoor water use activity. Check and record the numbers on your water meter. Wait two to four hours (overnight if possible), then record your water meter numbers. If the numbers have changed water is leaking somewhere in your plumbing system. Be sure water softners or filters are not operating.
Some leaks are too slow to move the dial. Turn off the water at the meter and wait a few hours. When you slowly turn the water back on, if the water rushed to fill the pipes, you may have a leak.
If a leak is detected at the meter
Turn off the house valve to determine if the leak is inside the house. This is usually located at a hose bib on an outside wall in a direct line from the water meter. If the meter dial still moves, you should investigate the possibility of a leak in the line between the meter and the house.
Irrigation System Leaks
Leaks in your irrigation system won’t always show on your meter due to their separate shut-off valves. To find leaks, walk your irrigation lines. Check for unusual wet spots, leaky or broken sprinkler heads, and use your meter to measure total irrigation use. Locate all hose bibs and check for leaks or drips. Replace the washers if there are any leaks.
Check toilets. Put dye tablets or a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Don’t flush. Wait 10 minutes. If color appears in the bowl, there is a leak in the toilet mechanism. Repair any leaks.
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Monitoring Your Water Usage
See the photo below of an example water meter. This picture will look the same or very similar to your meter. Different meters may look different, but the method of reading them is the same.
Here are some water meter facts:
- One (1) cubic foot of water equals 7.48 gallons
- When reading your meter, ignore the numbers in black as they are not used for billing purposes. Billing is done in units of 100 cubic feet. Thus, if your bill indicated usage of “8” units, this equates to “800 cubic feet”.
- There is usually some sort of “leak detector” on your meter. Typically a small triangle or “gear” that spins when even the smallest amount of water passes through the meter. If you turned off all water but still see this leak detector spinning, you should check your home for leaks (the most common culprit is a leaking toilet).
To check your average water consumption, simply get an initial read and then an ending read. For example, on Monday you check your meter and it reads “84” (remember don’t count the numbers in black). Next Monday you check your meter and it reads “91”. Here is how to calculate your water usage:
Ending Read – Beginning Read X 100 = Cubic feet used
Cubic Feet Used X 7.48 = Gallons used
Gallons Used /# days between reads = gallons per day
91 – 84 X 100 = 700 cubic feet
700 cubic feet X 7.48 = 5236 gallons
5236 gallons/7 days = 748 gallons per day
In the United States, the average residential daily water supply demand is 100 gallons per day, although it can go as high at 500 gallons per day.