How to read your water meter
Your water meter can tell you how much water you are using during a given time period, and can help you monitor the amount of water you use indoors and outdoors. It helps you figure out how much water each appliance used, and whether thereís a leak inside or outside the house. But first youíll need to learn to read your meter.
Most water meters are located in in-ground concrete boxes toward the street curbs. To expose the gauge, remove the cover and flip open the meterís cap.
Straight reading meters can tell you how much water youíre using in a given period. Simply record the figures shown on one day and again a day later, and subtract the original reading from the new reading. To convert cubic feet to gallons, multiply by 7.48. Using the same process, you can test the amount of water used to irrigate your garden. Turn off all water inside and outside the house, read the meter, then run the sprinklers; take a new reading.
Many new meters come with a leak detector-a small triangle in the center of the meter, which rotates when any amount of water is used. If the triangle rotates even when the water is turned off, thereís a leak somewhere. If your meter is of a different style, call your water agency for help.
Meters help check for leaks
Turn off all water faucets (including your ice maker). If your meter doesnít have a leak detector it will have a sweep hand. Record the meter reading or mark the needle position with a pencil or piece of tape. Keep the water off. Wait at least one hour. Then reread the meter gauge to determine if any water has been used. If a leak is detected, likely culprits are toilets and irrigation systems.
Check for irrigation leaks
- Taller, greener vegetation or moss growing around sprinkler heads are signs of a damaged or dirty valve. Clean grit from valve; replace worn gaskets or seals.
- Wet spots, mud, and eroding soil indicate a broken pipe or riser. Dry spots in your lawn could also be a sign that a sprinkler is damaged. To locate the source of the leak, dig around the sprinkler. Wet spots or muddy areas around valves point to a loose connection or aging washers.
- Wet spots in pavement also indicate possible leaks. Watch your sprinklers to determine which one is showering on the pavement. Then turn off the water and check the sprinkler head and riser. Sprinklers spouting geysers of water indicated broken sprinkler heads. Replace them.
Check for toilet leaks
- Put several drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Donít use the toilet for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes have elapsed, check the toilet bowl to see if colored water has escaped into it from the tank.
- If colored water shows up in the bowl, the toilet probably has a flapper leak. Replace the flapper.