How to Read a Water Meter

Reading your water meter regularly will help you understand your bills, and to understand how you are consuming water determining how much water you typically consume over a period of time, seasonally, or if you own a pool or you want to keep track of your bills. How Do you read a Water Meter?

  • Locate the Meter-in house or pit outside near curb
  • Open cover-determine if Analog/Digital
  • If Digital-read as is
  • If Analog-add Sweep hand with total #’s & Save
  • After a month take another reading
  • Subtract-1st total from 2nd
  • If needed-Convert-1 cubic ft. to 1 gal. by x 7.5 = gals.
  • Monitor usage & track for leaks

There are two types of water meters used here in America. You may have a digital water meter or an analog one. Digital water meters are straightforward and easier to read than Analog ones.  


How to Read a Water Meter in Gallons


  Quarterly water meter readings are used by most Water & Sewer Authorities or Private Water Suppliers Companies to calculate billing for water usage coming into the building and the estimated sewage flow that leaves moving on for wastewater treatment at a cost that is negotiated accordingly.

Neptune T10 1" Direct Read Lead Free Water Meters by
                                 Standard 5/8 ” Water Meter

Most water meters look like odometers in a car. They are located inside the home and sometimes located outside in pits where the water can be turned on and turned off and are easy to read and interpret.

In America, the meters are read in gallons or cubic feet used at the property while in Great Britain the water meters most often show liters or cubic liters of water usage at a property.

The numbers or digits should show as little as a 1/10 of a gallon and as much as thousands of gallons. There are three major measuring devices in an analog water meter including

  • Total water usage (the odometer numbers at the bottom)
  • Sweep hand (the red needle that measures 10 full gallons with a full rotation)
  • Low-flow indicator (the red triangle in the center that can be used to trace a leak)

Most Water Meters also carry 1 or 2 Stationary Digits at the end for larger readings and to keep the meters from maxing out. It will appear painted on at the end so a reading of 24,500 with 1 stationary 0 would be 245, 200 gals.

Overall total. They have more to do with the age of the Water Meter than quarterly billing. Water meters typically come in the following sizes: 5/8″, 3/4″ which are the most common residential size for bigger usage customers like schools and stores 1″, 1.5″, and 2″ 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.

  • A water meter has 6 numbers.
  • The first 4 numbers which are usually colored black indicate water volume in thousands of gallons (or cubic feet)
  • The last 2 digits which are white in color indicate water volume in hundreds of gallons (or cubic feet)


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Drinking water treatment plants treat raw H2O from ground or surface supplies to be used by their communities using: Chemical processes-oxidation, coagulation Physical processes-flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, adsorption Disinfection with ultraviolet light. Biological activated carbon (BAC) …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Read more


Water Meters | WaterOne
           Water Meter Pit near the sidewalk on the edge of the property


How to Read a Digital Water Meter


  A digital water meter with a solar panel built in requires light for activation, but you can do this by shining a flashlight on the instrument. There is no dial to read because everything is shown in a numerical display. It can provide a reading in either gallons or cubic feet, and the flow rate is determined by the volume of usage per minute.    



  Who is Responsible for Water Line from the Street to House?

  • The Homeowner is responsible for maintaining the water service line from the shutoff valve near the property line to the house
  • The Water Department is responsible for the water main in the street & the portion of the water service line from the water .…………………………………………….. Read more


A digital water meter will not have moving hands like the sweep hand on an analog meter.  If your digital water meter is blank, shine a light (sunlight, flashlight, or cellphone light) on the solar panel at the top of the face of your meter to activate the reader.

Digital water meters will alternate between showing your water usage and the rate of water used. When showing your reading, the digital water meter reads as is and includes a decimal point. When showing the rate of water used, the number on the screen is represented by gallons per minute and will appear on the right side of the screen.   


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Well H2O is not billed 
H2O may taste better (more minerals)
Chemical additives aren’t used
City H2O hookups are expensive

Wells need inspection & testing
Can run dry & use electric
City H2O takes responsibility for purity, quantity & delivery
Banks & Mortgage Co. see City H2O as a more stable option ………………………………………………………………………………….. Read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor  


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