Plumbing: Water meter

Once inside the cellar, the main is usually attached to a meter. However, in some installations, a stop or cock is placed on the street side of the meter and a gate valve is placed on the house side. Both act as controls, although it is preferred that a gate valve be installed before the meter on the street side.

The meter itself rests on a brick or wooden platform. It is supported in this way to prevent the meter's weight from straining the connections around it. The meter is a delicate instrument and should be protected from rough handling, dust, and dirt.

If provided by the municipality, it remains civic property and cannot be removed without permission.

How to read a water meter

  1. Before trying to read a water meter, check to see if it is registering. To do this, turn on the water. If the meter is registering, the pointer on the lowest dial will move; if it does not move under these conditions, you should notify the local water authority at once.
  2. Commence reading the meter by noting carefully the value of the unit in which the dial reads. This is indicated by each dial. These figures indicate the value of one complete revolution of the pointer; therefore, each division of a dial represents onetenth of the amount marked against each dial. It should further be noted that one complete revolution of a pointer of any dial is equal to one division of the dial of next higher value.
  3. Care must be taken to note the direction of movement of the pointers which rotate on alternate dials in opposite directions on most meters.
  4. Read the dials commencing with the one marked 10 and continue in the order shown by figures on the outside of each dial, setting down the figures as read, i.e., the reading of the 10 dial in the units column; that of the 100 dial in the tons column, etc.
  5. Always set down the figure, on each dial, that has been passed last or is just covered by the pointer.
  6. When the meter has registered its full capacity, that is, one complete revolution of the highest dial, it returns to 0 and starts again. Whenever this happens, place in front of the reading of all the dials, the figure 1. You must do this in order to obtain the present reading.
  7. Subtract from the present reading, the previous reading and multiply the difference by the local charge per 100 cubic feet, and you have the amount of your bill in dollars and cents.

There are two types of meter dial. One is a direct reading dial, which requires no instruction. The other is shown left. By listing the readings as shown below, you will get your total reading. If you keep a record of readings taken at specific times, you can determine your water use for any given period.

Dial 10 reads 7
Dial 100 reads 30
Dial 1,000 reads 500
Dial 10,000 reads 5,000
Dial 100,000 reads 60,000

The reading is: 65,537 cu. ft.

Plumbing basics

Bathroom fixtures
Bathroom floor plans
Bathtub installation
Installing lavatory
Water closet install

Cesspool / septic tanks

Fixture pipes
House drain
House sewer
Soil stack
Vent piping

Finishing touch

Heating a home


Dishwasher install
Garbage disposer install
Kitchen plans
Kitchen sink installation
Laundry install
Room plans
Work areas

Cast Iron

Plumbing layout
Pipe plan
Water distributing

Faucet repair
Pipe problems
Repair other
Toilet repair


Plumbing materials
Specialty tools

Water Supply

Hot water heaters
Running pipes
Service connection
Water meter
Water savings

Wells / pumps