How to Read Your Water Meter

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

h2ouse logoThe information and images on this page republished with permission from Click on their logo for more information on water savings at their award winning site!

Learning How to Read Your Water Meter

Step 1: Locate Your Water Meter

city worker opening water meterYour water meter is generally located near the curb in front of your home although in some areas (usually cold climates) it may be inside your home usually in the basement. Outside meters are typically housed in a concrete box usually marked "water" (as shown in the photo) or in a meter pit with a cast iron lid. 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.

Step 2: Read Your Water Meter

Water meters in the U.S. typically measure volume in gallons or cubic feet. One cubic foot = 7.48 gallons and 100 cubic feet = 748 gallons. Water charges are typically based on 100 cubic feet or on 1000 gallon units.

There are two basic types of water meters -- the straight-reading meter which resembles the an odometer in a car, and the round-reading meter which has several separate dials. The "straight-reading" meter is by far the most common.

How to Read a Straight-Reading Meter

In the meter shown in Figure 2, the reading is taken from the figures shown under the words CUBIC FEET. The meter reads 81710.03 which is the total number of cubic feet of water recorded since the meter was installed. If the utility bills in units of 100 cubic feet they would read this meter as simply 817. water meter
Figure 2
The meter shown in Figure 3 is brand new, hence the reading for this meter is 0.00. The small blue triangle (just to the right of the "35") is the low flow indicator. That triangle will spin if any water is flowing through the meter. This indicator can be useful in leak detection. water meter
Figure 3
The meter in Figure 4, also cubic feet, is good example of a situation where the final number has already"turned over". The correct reading on this meter is: 2425.92 cubic feet. On most meters, the final digit will turn over once the big sweep hand has passed the 0.6 mark. Note that the size of the meter is usually printed on the dial. The meter in Figure 4 is a 5/8" meter as is shown on the dial. water meter
Figure 4

How to Read a Round-Reading Meter

water meter
Figure 5

The meter in Figure 5 is an older style and is much less common, however there are still some of these meters in service. This type of meter has several small dials and is a little more difficult to read than the straight-reading meter. The dials are marked off in divisions of 10, and are read much like a clock, except that the hand on every other dial turns counterclockwise.

To read this meter, begin with the 100,000 dial and read each dial around the meter to the one foot dial. If the hand is between numbers, use the lower number. Therefore, the dials at right register 806323.

Determining the Size of your Water Meter

Occasionally it may be necessary to determine the size of your water meter, for example, if you are designing a new irrigation system. Water meters typically come in the following sizes:

  • 5/8", 3/4" (these are the most common residential sizes), 1", 1.5", 2".
  • It is unusual to find anything larger than a 1.5 inch meter on a single-family home. The most common sizes are 5/8" and 3/4".
  • The size of the water meter is typically printed on the face of the meter. Sometimes the size is stamped into the case. For Badger Meters, model 25 = 5/8", model 35 = 3/4", and model 70 = 1".


To Check for Leaks Follow these Steps

Method 1

Turn off all water taps inside and outside your home. Record the meter reading and return in two to three hours to check for movement. If the meter reading has changed, you may have a leak.

Method 2

Many meters have a small red (or blue) triangle on the meter face, designed to detect even small leaks. If this red triangle is moving when you have all water off inside and outside your home, you may have a leak.

Common sources of leaks are a toilet that is running, a constant drip in a sink or outdoor faucet, a loose or dripping washer connection, a home water treatment unit, an evaporative cooling unit, or a sprinkler system.

Shutting off your Water Service at the Meter

During normal business hours, 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday thru Friday,

The City of Lompoc Water Division provides free service to customers for turning off water meters to make repairs or check for leaks. on the customer's property.

After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays

To have a water meter turned off for emergency repair contact the Lompoc Police Department at 736-2341 to have the on-call Water Department employee respond. The standard call-out fee of $35.00 will be charged to the monthly utility bill to turn-off the water meter to enable property owners to make emergency repairs to their plumbing system. To restore water service, a time can be arranged with the on-call Water department employee. There is no additional charge to restore water service during normal business hours.

The property owner, tenant or plumbing contractor may be charged for any damage occurring to the City of Lompoc water meter service piping or meter while shutting off the meter . Turning off the water meter should be done in emergency situations only.

Depending on the extent to repair a damaged meter valve, the cost could range up to $1500.00.