Getting familiar with where your water meter is located and how it works is easy to do and can be very helpful to you in monitoring your property’s water use and any potential leaks.
Most water meters are found toward the front of your property, near the street, in a cement box in the ground. It may be in your parkway, or near the end of your driveway or sidewalk. If your water service enters your property from the alley, the water meter box is likely located in the alley near the back of your property.
Using a pair of gloves, remove the lid from your water meter box. You may need the assistance of a screwdriver to help prop the lid open. Once the box is open, make sure to clear away any dirt or other debris from the face of the meter gauge so that you can see it clearly.
Water meters basically function the same as an odometer, except instead of measuring miles driven, they measure volumetric water use in cubic feet or hundreds of cubic feet. One cubic foot is equal to 7.48 gallons. One-hundred cubic feet is equal to 748 gallons, which is also known as one “billing unit.” The average single-family home in Long Beach uses approximately 12 billing units of water each month (approximately 9,000 gallons/month).
When you look at your water meter gauge, the black numbers on the right side of the gauge measure in single cubic feet intervals, whereas the white numbers on the left side indicate one-hundred cubic (‘CCF’) feet intervals. Only the white numbers are used to calculate your monthly water consumption.
As an example, let’s say the meter reads 53,435 on June 1st. That means this meter has logged 53,435 cubic feet of water consumption since it was installed. However, the meter reader only looks at the three numbers on the left (‘534’), since these are the numbers that correspond to billing units. At the next reading on July 1st, if the meter reads 54,835, this means that 1,400 cubic feet (14 CCF) were used during this period (54,835 – 53,435 = 1,400). Again, only the three numbers on the left are used for billing purposes, meaning that 14 billing units were used for the billing cycle (548 – 534 = 14).
Most water meters also have a leak indicator, which often times is a small triangle located on the gauge and that spins in a circle when any type of water use is occurring on your property.
Absolutely! The great thing about your water meter is that you can use it to check for leaks both inside and outside of your house. If you suspect that you have a leak, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn off ALL water-using sources in your house. Make sure that nobody is taking a shower and that the dishwasher and washing machine are turned off.
Leave your water off for the next ten minutes. While your water is off, go out to your meter and look for the tiny triangle on your gauge. If the triangle continues to move while everything is shut off, it means you probably have a leak.
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, turn off all of the irrigation valves, as these can sometimes leak water as well. Once the valves are shut off, go back to the meter and look at the triangle dial. If it is no longer moving, congratulations, you’ve found your culprit. Otherwise, the leak is probably coming from somewhere inside your house such as from one of your toilets, faucets, or shower valves.
Always make sure to cover your water meter back up after you are done looking at it.
If you have additional questions about how to locate or read your water meter, please call (562) 570-2390.