Learning how to read your own water meter will help you to understand how much water you are using at your property at any given time, and will help you in your conservation efforts.
First you will need to locate your water meter box. Generally the meters are in front of your house, on the property line. Look for a rectangular box that is flush with the ground (similar to the one pictured on the right). You will need a tool of some sort to remove the lid from the box. A screwdriver should work, but if you need our staff to help you, please call our office at 415-868-1224.
Once you locate the meter box and remove the lid, you should see a meter similar to the one pictured below. You may, however, find that the meter box is full of dirt. This is usually due to our ever-present gopher “friends”. If the meter is full of dirt or other debris, you will need to dig it out of the box to gain access to your meter.
Reading your water meter is similar to reading the odometer in a car. Read all the numbers from left to right that appear under the words Cubic Feet. The first digit on the right represents one cubic foot, the second digit from the right represents 10 cubic feet, the third from the right represents 100 cubic feet and so on.
One revolution of the water meter sweep hand (the dial pointing between 1 and 2 in the photo below) equals 1 cubic foot or 7.48 gallons. You may have an older meter that looks slightly different than the one pictured below, however all meters fall under the same general parameters. Note, if the white triangular dial is moving, there is water running through the meter.
We suggest that you start with a 24 hour meter read to find out how many gallons are being used at your property in a day. The first time you read your meter, write down the numbers indicated in the Cubic Feet window. Wait 24 hours and re-read your meter. Subtract the prior reading from the second one and multiply the difference by 7.48. This will give you the number of gallons used at the property within the 24 hour period that you read the meter.
Day 1 – meter reading is 014574
Day 2 – meter reading is 014590
Difference is 16 cubic feet (day 1 subtracted from day 2)
Multiply 16 by 7.48 (7.48 gallons = 1 cubic foot)
Total Gallons used in 24 hours – 119.68
If you suspect that you may have a leak, please do the following: Turn off all faucets and water using plumbing fixtures or appliances. Don’t forget any outside fixtures. Mark the position of the meter sweep hand lightly with a pencil and/or note the reading on your meter. Wait approximately 30 minutes before rechecking the meter. If the sweep hand moved, a leak is indicated. If you suspect that you have a leak on your property, please contact a plumber immediately to find and repair the leak. As well, we ask that you call our office at 415-868-1224 (24 hours a day) so that we can turn your meter off to stop the water loss until a plumber is notified.
Water Conservation Tips from FEMA.
- Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. Use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
- Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year!
- Check all plumbing for leaks. Have leaks repaired by a plumber.
- Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
- Install an instant hot water heater on your sink.
- Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking.
- Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.
- Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models. Note: In many areas, low-volume units are required by law.
- Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed to flush. Place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow (do not use a brick, it may dissolve and loose pieces may cause damage to the internal parts). Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
- Replace your shower-head with an ultra-low-flow version.
- Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants.
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
- Avoid taking baths—take short showers—turn on water only to get wet and lather and then again to rinse off.
- Avoid letting the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving.
- Operate automatic dishwashers only when they are fully loaded. Use the “light wash” feature, if available, to use less water.
- Hand wash dishes by filling two containers—one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.
- Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water rather than running water from the tap.
- Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste or simply dispose of food in the garbage. (Kitchen sink disposals require a lot of water to operate properly).
- Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Do not let the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.
- Avoid wasting water waiting for it to get hot. Capture it for other uses such as plant watering or heat it on the stove.
- Avoid rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher; just remove large particles of food. (Most dishwashers can clean soiled dishes very well, so dishes do not have to be rinsed before washing)
- Avoid using running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave oven.
- Operate automatic clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of your load.