Have you ever looked at your water bill and thought, "There is no way I could have used that much water!" If you experienced high water usage or are worried you have a leak, learn how to locate and read your water meter.
Locate your meter
Your water meter is generally located near the sidewalk in front of your home in a direct line with the main outside faucet. It is housed in a concrete or polyvinyl box usually marked "water." Carefully remove the lid by using a tool such as a long screwdriver. DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS. Visually examine the area around the meter to make sure there are no harmful insects or other animals before reaching inside the box. Use a wet paper towel to wipe off the meter’s face if necessary.
Don't cover the meter box
In searching for your meter box, you may discover that you are unable to locate it because it is covered by grass, rocks, vegetation, construction materials, etc. It is important to make sure that the meter box lid is uncovered and visible at all times. This will ensure accurate reads. Also, do not plant vegetation next to the meter. This will help to keep debris and roots from entering the meter box and possibly damaging the meter or the water line.
How to read the meter and check for a leak
Most homes in Gilbert will have an Invensys, Metron, Sensus, or Iperl meter like the ones pictured below.
Gilbert reads the meters electronically from the round black antennae attached to the meter box lid. This allows meter reader professionals to read the meters more efficiently and it also eliminates the possibility for human error in obtaining the meter read. For this reason it is important that you replace the meter box lid carefully when you are done making sure that you don’t pinch the wire that connects the meter to the antennae on the lid.
In order to manually read your own meter, just subtract the visual number you obtain from the meter from what is listed on the water bill to find out what your water usage is since the last read. Gilbert bills for water in increments of one thousand gallons so make sure you are just reading the meter to the thousand gallons digit. Because the Town reads these meters electronically the registers will often have a layer of dirt on top of them. Simply wipe it off with a wet rag and you will be able to see the face of the meter.
Different meters, same concept
Look on your utility bill to see what size meter you have. Residential customers in Gilbert typically have a ¾ inch or a 1 inch sized meter.
On the Sensus meter the thousand gallon increments are the number in black with the white background. The next two digits in white with the black backgrounds are the hundreds and the tens increments. The last digit does not turn and the dial with the red pointer records ten gallons for every revolution. The numbers on the red dial each equal 1 gallon. If the black triangle is moving there is water moving through the meter.
For the ¾ and 1 inch size Invensys meters they will record down to the tenth of a gallon increments starting from the right side of the digits. The increments go up from there just like the odometer on a car.
For the 1” Metron meter the black numbers with the white backgrounds are still the one thousand gallon increments but now the last three digits do not turn. On this meter the red dial on the right measures one thousand gallons for every revolution. The center red dial reads one hundred gallons for every revolution and the red dial on the left reads ten gallons for every revolution.
If you have a ¾ inch Metron meter the black numbers with the white backgrounds are the thousand gallon increments. The white number with the black background is the one hundred gallon increments and the last two digits do not turn. The red dial on the right counts for 100 gallons every revolution. The center red dial measures 10 gallons for every revolution and the red dial on the left measures on gallon for every revolution.
The new Iperl meters have digital displays. The thousand gallon increments are shown with the black dashes above the numbers on the left side of the display. There is a small decimal point between the third and second digits from the right hand side. This means the digit on the far right side of the display equals 1/100th of a gallon. If this digit is counting up then there is a small amount of water moving through the meter.
How to check for leaks
After you find and determine what type of meter you have, you can easily check for a leak. On the Sensus meter, the small black triangle located above the numbers is the leak indicator. On the Sensus meter, the leak indicators will move in a clockwise motion when water is being used. On the Invensys meter, the red pointer is what is referred to as the leak indicator. On the Metron meter, the red asterisk is the leak indicator. This will move in a counter clockwise direction when water is being used. On the Iperl meter, the circle with a + in it indicates water is moving through the meter.
With all the water turned off in the house, there should be no movement of the pointers or the dials on any of the meters. If you have turned off all the taps in the house, and the meter appears to be turning, you may have a leak. Find how to identify leaks here. Use the step-by-step Smart Home Water Guide to isolate the leak and determine where it is coming from.
What do I do if I can’t find the leak?
Before calling in a plumber you can schedule a free water efficiency checkup with a Gilbert Water Conservation Specialist. You can also call the Water Conservation office at 480-503-6098 to schedule an appointment.
What do I do if the meter tells me I don’t have a leak but my water use is still high?
Still schedule a Water Efficiency Checkup with a Gilbert Water Conservation Specialist. We will go through all the water using fixtures of the house, including the irrigation system, and almost always come up with the answer to the question of “where is all my water going?” For additional assistance – Water.Conservation@gilbertaz.gov