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Water Meter Reading – Easy ‘How To’ Guide

An experienced Water Leak Detection company such as ourselves come across water meters regularly (usually Yorkshire Water Meters in the areas we cover), and they help to provide useful information to us and to you too! In this simple guide, we will explain all about water meter reading.

The image below shows what a normal water meter usually looks like in the UK:

Water Meter Reading - Numbers and Dials. Yorkshire.
Water Meter Reading – Numbers and Dials

In our guide to how much water leaks use we mentioned that having a high water bill is one of the signs of a water leak and, accordingly, is one of the reasons that encourages people to contact us for help in finding a water leak.

That said, some people get confused by what the numbers on their water meter mean and how to do a water meter reading. Knowing how to do a water meter reading is very useful to know so we will explain what a ‘typical’ water meter looks like and what the numbers and dials on them usually mean in the UK.

What do The Numbers Mean on a Water Meter?

There are four main parts to a regular analogue water meter:

  1. Black Numbers on Water Meter – which show meters cubed of water (thousands of litres)
  2. Red Numbers on Water Meter – which shows litres of water used
  3. Water Meter ‘Dial’ (a bit like a clock face) – showing decilitres (100ml) increments
  4. Water Meter Spinning ‘Cog’ – showing 10 millilitre (10ml) increments

Hopefully that has helped to clear up some of the mystery of water meter reading and given some tips on what the different things on a water meter mean. Effectively they are all measuring water usage in different amounts, in different ways. This allows you to measure water meter numbers in very small increments.

Our useful video on water meter reading explains this visually on how to read a water meter:

In more modern times digital water meters are more common but they do the same thing and the black and red water meter numbers above will be replaced with digital displays. Also, modern water meters allow smart water meter readings. Basically to allow water companies to collect and record water meter readings.

This information is used to collate your water bill and, in some instances, alert water companies about potential water leaks, which in turn they will possibly notify their customers about. We discuss this and related topics in our article about Yorkshire Water Leaks at your home or business.

On the subject of businesses, we also offer commercial leak detection services. This is a valuable service for companies because they will almost always be on a water meter, possibly use a lot and, could have disruption to their business from a water leak. Finding a water leak quickly potentially saves a lot of cost and hassle.

What are The Units on a Water Meter?

If you look at the water meter image above, you will see the ‘M³’ symbol which stands for 1 meter cubed (so imagine a tank 1m x 1m x 1m) which is 1,000 litres, or about the size of an LBC Water Tank. The numbers on the dials are based around those units, in particular the black numbers on a water meter reading. Others are fractions of that, including the red numbers which (as we said earlier) are litres.

Water Meter Numbers on Dials, black and red., Yorkshire
Water Meter Numbers on Dials

So on this example above, 216,532 litres of water has been used since this water meter installation. That is a lot of water and is roughly equivalent to:

  • c.11 Olympic Sized Swimming pools!
  • Over 2,000 bath tubs of water
  • 3,900 uses of your shower
  • Over 25,000 flushes of your toilet
UK Water Meter, Yorkshire.
UK Water Meter

We discuss how useful water meter readings can be in our article about Christmas water leaks, which provides some useful guidance for the colder months of the year, especially December.

Where is my Water Meter?

Water meters are usually found at the boundary of your property, where the mains feed connects to your own property supply pipe as can be seen on the image below. Accordingly, the water meter and maintenance of it is usually the water companies responsibility. As are water meter leaks in most instances.

Water Meter Location, Yorkshire.
Water Meter Location

If you are in an area with multiple properties, for example in flats or a business estate, there may be several so that water meter readings can be taken for each property. If you are checking a water meter reading in this situation, make sure you know which meter is yours. If in doubt speak to your water company to get your meter reference to check against.

Water Meters and Leak Detection

As we said earlier, people sometimes contact us because when doing a water meter reading they have noticed they are using a lot of water or that their water meter dials are constantly spinning which can indicate a water leak.

Interestingly, we use water meters and water meter readings to (a) help check for leaks (along with other trace and access methods) and (b) to help quantify the amount of water being lost. This is useful information to us for a number of reasons but not least to understand the scale of water leaks.

Clearly a large water leak is different to a relatively small one and, as you might expect, we do a lot of work finding small and hidden water leaks, such as a situation where a boiler is losing pressure. Interestingly as our video below shows, even a very small leak can use a lot of water and cause a lot of water damage to a property:

Here is a useful video and article to explain our water leak detection company services. And, very much relevant to water meter reading, a great blog post on finding a leak under homes.

Water Meter Reading – Top Tip
“If your water meter reading dials are moving even though all appliances and taps are turned off in your home or business, you may have a water leak. Get it checked out by our leak detection team”

Leak Detection Team

How do I get a Water Meter?

This will depend on who supplies your water meter but here are a few examples from water companies in the North of England, each has a page on their website:

Clearly you will need to decide yourself (if you have the choice) as to whether having a water meter is good for you. There are several things to think about, clearly including the cost of water.

Rainbow Restoration Leak Detection
Rainbow Restoration – Leak Detection

We are experts in dealing with flood water damage for people in the York and Yorkshire Coast area, so if you have been flooded, please contact our friendly team to arrange for help and guidance. We also deal with Yorkshire water leaks in local homes and businesses. Here are the local areas we cover.

At Rainbow Restoration- York & Yorkshire Coast we are experts in Leak Detection, including Commercial Leak Detection and also Water Damage Restoration, so if you need help finding a water leak or getting your property back to normal after a leak or flood, get in touch with our friendly local team who will be happy to help you with this. We are based in York.

Leak Detection Logo
Leak Detection Logo

How do I read my water meter reading?

Leak Detection Logo - Small

The first thing to do when trying to read your water meter reading is to locate where it is. In the UK, water meters tend to be at the boundary of a property onto the public footpaths etc. Finding your water meter may be trickier if you are, for example, in an area with lots of properties nearby. Once you have found it, read the numbers on the analogue or digital dial and write them down (or take a photo of them) and then use our guide above. If you cannot find your water meter, contact your local water company for help.

How are modern water meters read?

Leak Detection Logo - Small

More modern water meters are sometimes smart water meters which can be read automatically from the water company without having to do a manual reading. The meter often has an attachment or integral part which transmits a signal to the reader from the water company meaning that they can read a lot of meters quickly and accurately. In some instances, water meters can even be read remotely over the internet.

What is 1 unit on a water meter

Generally, the main units on a water meter are metres cubed (M³) which is equivalent to 1,000 litres. So for example, if you see 100 on the main numbers then that will be 100,000 litres being used (generally shown as black numbers). However, most water meter readings will also include lower denominations and measurements of water, usually in litres which is shown on the red numbers. Small amounts of millilitres are shown on accompanying dials.