Learning to read your water meter is important because it can help identify if you have a leak and also allows you to calculate your average water use. Below are steps for how to read your water meter, as well as a helpful video. To view as a PDF, click here.
1: LOCATE YOUR WATER METER
Your meter is usually located in a concrete box labeled “WATER” near the street or sidewalk. Use a tool or screwdriver to lift the lid slowly and gently.
2: READ YOUR WATER METER
All meters will show a reading that tracks the total amount of water used in cubic feet since the meter was installed. One cubic foot of water = 7.48 gallons.
3: MONITOR YOUR WATER USE*
Pick a starting point and record the cubic feet reading and date. We recommend to do a full week. At the end of day seven, write down the cubic feet reading again. Subtract the first reading from the second to find out how much water was used.
*To calculate the average daily water use per person in your household, click here.
4: CHECK FOR HOUSEHOLD LEAKS
Most meters will have a small star-shaped low-flow indicator that spins to reflect the amount of water moving through the meter. When all indoor and outdoor water sources are turned off (washer, faucets, irrigation, etc.), the indicator should not move. If it continues to move, water is flowing somewhere on the property and you may have a leak. To determine if the leak is indoors or outdoors, turn off the water shut-off valve (where the water line enters the home, commonly near the hose bib).
If the indicator continues to move when the water shut-off valve is closed, water is leaking outside the home (most likely the irrigation system or a leak between your home and the meter). If the indicator stops moving when the water shut-off valve is closed, water is leaking in the home (running toilet, leaky pipe, etc.) You will need to contact a plumbing professional for hard to detect leaks and any repair needed.
To view our 10-minute Leak Check List, click here.
5: FREE WATER-WISE HOUSECALL PROGRAM
The City of Petaluma offers customers FREE Water-Wise HouseCalls — a personalized program to help you use water more efficiently inside and outside your home. We also offer free DIY Leak Detection Kits. For more information or to schedule your free HouseCall, please call (707) 778-4507 or visit cityofpetaluma.org/conserve.