How to Read a Water Meter in the USA

by Support Team January 14, 2019

How to Read a Water Meter in the USA

Water meter reading doesn't have to be complicated. The first thing you need to do is locate your water meter. If you live in the Northern United States where winter temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you might be surprised to know that it's actually in your house. Check your basement near your furnace or hot water heater. In colder regions of the United States, water meters are installed indoors to reduce the risk of pipe freezing and damage.


Learning to read a water meter is useful but the simplest way to get information about your water usage and potential leaks is to strap on a Flowie smart water flow sensor to your water meter and take advantage of real-time water monitoring to save an average of 18% on your water bill.

 

Flowie water flow sensor detects hidden leaks to lower water bills 18% on average

Flowie listens to your water meter to detect leaks and reduce water bills 18% on average

 

identify your water meter

 

Once you've found your water meter the second thing you need to do is identify what type of meter it is. Sensus, Neptune, Elster, and Badger are just some of the manufacturers of water meters but there are also lots of different models with different components.

 


Water meter reading | sweep hand | low flow indicator | odometer

 

Water meters tend to differ in the following ways:

 

1. Sweep hand

2. Low flow indicator

3. Odometer and unit of measurement

 

Click on the image that most closely matches your water meter and learn how to read your meter.

  

analog water meter

 

This water meter features three decimal places on the odometer and a small sweep hand (the red circle) to give even more accurate reading. The small sweep hand also functions as a low flow indicator which spins when water is running.

 

Water Meter | Analog odometer | Sensus

 

 

analog water meter with large sweep hand | cubic meters

 

This water meter has a large sweep hand around the circumference of the water meter face. Its low flow indicator is almost in the middle.

 

Water Meter | Analog with large sweep hand | Badger


analog water meter with large sweep hand | gallons

 

Similar to the water meter immediately above, the main difference here is that it measures water in gallons. In case you've forgotten, 1 gallon (gal.) = 3.785 liters. 7.48 gallons = 1 cubic foot (1 cu. ft.).  

 

Water Meter | Analog with large sweep hand gallons

 

analog water meter with small sweep hand

 

The water meter here has the low flow indicator and small sweep hand stacked on top of each other. The basic principles are the same as the water meters listed above.

 

Water Meter | Analog Odometer with small sweep hand

 

digital water meter

 

These digital water meters practically read themselves right down to the ten thousandth decimal place. The unit of measurement (displayed in the bottom left of the LCD) can often be toggled between gallons and cubic meters. The low flow indicator is a represented by an icon that blinks when water is in use at the property. PLEASE NOTE: if your digital water meter screen is blank, you may need to shine a light on the solar power cells to get it to show the number - the flashlight on your smartphone should do the trick.

 

Water Meter | Digital | Sensus

____________________  


analog water meter

 

 

This meter shows 182.470 m³ (cubic meters) or,

182,470 liters

48,203.4744 gallons

6,443.86724 cubic feet

 


Water Meter | Analog odometer

 

water meter reading notes

 

Note that the reading is not 182.471 cubic meters because the number 0 in the last position (read the odometer from left to right) is still visible. For almost all water meters, you use the smallest number visible in the last position of the odometer for your reading.

 

The red circle thing in the corner is called a low flow indicator. This is also in the shape of a triangle on many other water meters. 

 

The low flow indicator turns when water is flowing through the meter. It can also tell you if you have a leak.

 

measurement, pipe diameter & other info

 

  • Water is measured in cubic meters (m³).
  • The manufacturer is Sensus.
  • The type of meter is Positive Displacement. That's what PD on the face of the meter means.
  • The diameter of the pipe for this meter is 5/8".
  • A permanent thousands separator on the dial is indicated by a comma (,).
  • A permanent decimal place on the dial is indicated by a period (.)
    ___________________

    analog water meter with large sweep hand | cubic meters

     

    This water meter reads 301.192 m³ (cubic meters) or,

    301,192 liters

    10,636.4951 cubic feet

    79,566.50879 gallons (US)

     

    Water Meter | Analog with large sweep hand | Badger

     

    water meter reading notes

      

    The numbers 301 in the reading 301.192 are pretty easy to understand but the .192 part of the reading might be a little confusing. These numbers come from combining the sweep hand reading with the odometer reading.

     

    The red number in the odometer counts the first decimal position which is the tens decimal position, 0.1 in this case. And the sweep hand counts the hundreds and the thousands decimal positions, in this case 0.092.

     

    Even though you see a red number 2 on the odometer, the correct reading is not 301.292. Why? Because the red number 1 is the smallest number visible. You always count the smallest number visible in the tens decimal position.

     

    The big red sweep hand is pointing to a line that is just after 0,09. In fact it's two lines after 0,09. So, that's 0,092. Because the red number in the odometer is .1 you add that to .092 and get 0.192

     

    Also note that there is a black circle thing just left and below the center of the face of the water meter. This is called a low flow indicator.

     

    A low flow indicator spins when any water flows through the meter. It can be used to tell if there is a leak in your home or property.

     

    measurement, pipe diameter & other info

     

    • The pipe diameter ratings are 5/8" and 3/4".
    • You can check the stamped rating on the side of your water meter to determine which pipe rating your meter is using.
    •  The manufacturer is Badger.
    ____________________

     

    analog water meter with large sweep hand | gallons

     

    The water meter reading is 8.3 gal (gallons) or,

    0.0314189 cubic meters

    1.10955 cubic feet

    31.4189 liters

     

    Water Meter | Analog large sweep hand gallons

     

    water meter reading notes

     

    Like most water meters in the USA, the unit of measurement for this meter is in gallons not cubic meters. 

     

    The large sweep hand is pointing to a line just past the number 8. It's actually 3 lines after the number 8 which means it is 8.3 gallons.

     

    You can also see that there is a permanent blue 0 printed to the right of the odometer. This means that the white number 1 is in the tens position. 

     

    In this case, you can ignore the white number 1 on the odometer. Although it looks like it is 1, it is actually 0 because you always use the smallest number displayed on the odometer and you can still see the bottom of the number 0 in the tens position on the odometer.  

     

    measurement, pipe diameter & other info

     

    • The diameter of the pipe is 5/8".
    • Reading is split between an odometer and a large sweep hand.
    • 1 gallon is equal to 3.78541 liters.
    • 1 cubic liter is 1000 liters
    • 1 cubic meter is equal to 264.172 gallons
    ____________________

     

    analog water meter with small sweep hand

     

    The water meter reading for this meter is 7,734.042 m³ (cubic meters) or,

    273,125.11564 cubic feet

    2,043,117.7482 gallons

    7,734,042 liters

     

    Water Meter | Analog Odometer with small sweep hand

     

    water meter reading notes

    The 7734 part of the reading is simple enough but you might get tripped up on the .042 part. These numbers come from combining the numbers on the small sweep hand with the white number with the black background in the odometer reading.

    The white number in the odometer counts the first decimal position which is the tens decimal position, 0.0 in this case. And the small sweep hand counts the hundreds and the thousands decimal positions, in this case 0.042.

    Even though you see the top part of a white number 1 on the odometer, the correct reading is not 7734.142. Why? Because the white number 0 is the smallest number visible. You always count the smallest number visible for the numbers on the odometer that turn slowly and don't click to the next number.


    The small red sweep hand is pointing to a line that is just after 4. In fact it's two lines after 4. So, that's 0.042. Because the white number in the odometer is .0 you add that to .042 and get 0.042.

     

    measurement, pipe diameter & other info

     

    • 5/8" pipe rating.
    • Measured in cubic meters (m³).
    • Reading is split between an odometer and a small sweep hand.
    • A permanent decimal place on the dial, indicated by a comma (,).
    • Each short mark for the small sweep hand is worth 0.002 m³ (0.01 m³/5).
    ____________________

     

    digital water meter

     

    This water meter reads 197.9955 m³ or,

    197995.5 liters

    52304.877593 gallons

    6992.1450949 cubic feet

     

    Water Meter | Digital | Sensus

     

    water meter reading notes

     

    Blessed be the digital meters for they give intuitive water usage readings.

     

    For digital models there is an icon such as a + sign that appears when water is being used. This is called a low flow indicator. A low flow indicator can be used to see if your home has a leak.

     

    measurement, pipe diameter & other info

     

    • 5/8" pipe rating.
    • Measured in cubic meters (m³).
    • Has a cover to help preserve the display and battery.
    • The reading is only temporarily displayed after lifting the cover. If it disappears before you're done with the reading, close and open the lid to trigger it to display again.
    • Some digital meters require light for activation, so you may need to shine a flashlight on it to take a reading.
    ____________________

     

    Can't find your water meter model?

     

    If you've got a water meter that isn't on this list, take a clear picture of it and send it in an email to hello@alertlabs.com and we'll help you read your meter.

     

    Also, when you purchase your Flowie water sensor, we read your water meter so you don't have to.

     

    Now that you've been equipped with the awesome ability to read your water meter, remember, with great power come great responsibility.

     

    Be water rich, my friends.

     





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