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How to Read Your Water Meter

To help you understand how much water your home or business uses, you will want to know how to read your meter. This also will help you to identify leaks and discover ways to conserve water.

Step 1: Find your meter box, which is typically located in the front of the property near the street. Often the box is in a direct line with the main outside faucet. It is housed in a plastic box usually marked "water” on the lid. Carefully remove the lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver. Insert the tool into the hole and remove.

Step 2: Once you open the meter box lid, lift the protective cap on the meter. On the face of the meter there is a large dial and a display of numbers.

Read the number display from left to right. Be sure to include the stationary zero (the red zero on the right). For newer meters, read all digits. This is your current meter reading. All meters in the City of Austell measure water in gallons. Charges for the amount of water consumed are based on the number of gallons you use during a billing period.

Next steps
Keep in mind that you might be checking your meter on a date different from the one used for billing. This could result in a difference in the amount you find, compared with the amount on which your bill is based. However, if your reading is considerably higher than what is on your bill, check for a leak or try to determine the source of large water use. If your reading is significantly lower than the reading on your bill, please contact our billing department at (770) 944-4300 to request a meter re-read. Charges may apply.

How to Check for a Water Leak

Follow these steps to find out if your system has sprung a leak

Finding water leaks can save you water, which means saving money on water and sewer bills. Follow these easy steps to determine if you have a leak in a domestic or a sprinkler irrigation system.

Step 1: Turn all water-using appliances off so that no water is being used. This means turning off all water inside and outside the house including showers, sinks, washing machines and any appliance that uses water. If you have a sprinkler irrigation system, turn off the controller and manually shut off the valves at the double check valve assembly to isolate the irrigation system.

Step 2: Take the lid off the meter box and lift the protective cover.

Watch the meter. Your meter will have a triangular red or silver and black round disc that is commonly called a “leak indicator.”

If it is spinning, you have a leak. If there is no indicator and the actual meter dial hand is moving, water is running somewhere in your system and you have a leak. Go to step 3.

If the hand is not moving, note the position of the hand and wait ten minutes. Check the meter again, if it has moved, you have a slow leak. Go to step 3. If not, you do not have a leak.

Step 3: Locate the main shut-off valve to the house. This is usually located close to the meter box.

Step 4: Turn off the valve.  

Step 5: Turn on a faucet inside the house to test. 

Step 6: Check if the meter’s leak indicators hand is moving. If water still flows from the faucet after several seconds, the shut off valve is not working. If no water flows through the faucet, the shut off valve is working. Return to the meter.

To Check a Toilet for a Leak

Flush the toilet and while the reservoir is still filling, add two or three drops of food coloring to the water in the reservoir.

If the leak indicator or dial hand is still moving, water is flowing between the meter and the shut-off valve. That means you have a leak between the meter and the customer-side shut-off valve.

If it is not moving, then you have a leak between the customer-side shut-off valve and possibly somewhere in the house. Check toilets, washing machines, faucets, etc., for any leak.

Wait 15 to 30 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes colors, the flapper valve needs to be replaced. In leaky toilets, the flapper valve often needs to be replaced.

If the water in the tank is running over the overflow tube, the valve is not shutting off when the water in the tank returns to normal and the valve assembly may need to be replaced.

Note: Your meter registers only when water goes through your meter. If, after following the above steps, the leak indicator moves, there is a leak between the meter and your house. This is the customers’ responsibility and you should contact a plumber.