Plumbing DIY: How to read your water meter – We usually advise against plumbing DIY of any kind – these usually end in total disaster and expensive repairs. However, there are some occasions that call for a little DIY savvy, that you may want to invest a little extra effort into learning.
First, always know where your water mains are, and how to switch your mains on and off. If you don’t know this, an inconvenient leak or burst geyser could turn into a flood in your home or business.
Second, you may benefit from learning how to read your water meter, to keep track of your water consumption, and to submit correct consumption figures to your local municipality. This is especially useful if you’re receiving unrealistic utility bills or if you suspect there’s a leak in the main pipes feeding your home.
It’s not a time bomb – It’s a water meter
When confronted with a water meter for the first time, many people become overwhelmed by the dials and digits and choose to close the water meter box and leave well enough alone. Although a water meter unit looks formidable, it’s not a time bomb, and you can do very little damage looking at it.
Here in South Africa, we are charged per kilolitre, or per cubic metre (m³) of water consumption. Most municipalities do allow consumers to submit their own meter readings for billing purposes, but these are still checked regularly by municipal workers. Here’s what you need to know about how to read your water meter:
Can my water meter help me find a leak?
There are two reasons that your water bill may seem higher than your actual consumption:
Due to a shortage of workers in the field, the municipality will often charge an average over a few months, and then take readings occasionally in order to balance with actual consumption. Sometimes, their average is higher than your actual usage, and sometimes it’s lower – in this case when the municipal worker does come around to read your meter, your account may spike to make up for underpayment on past months.
A high water bill may indicate a leak in your plumbing system. While a water meter might not help you isolate the actual leak, it will help you confirm that there is one. Switch off all water-using appliances and taps, and watch your water meter. If you have a leak somewhere, it’ll take very little time to see that the dials keep moving, and you’re paying for water that’s being wasted.
If your water meter is ticking away when it shouldn’t be, you may need to have your home or business plumbing system inspected for leaks (or bombs). Don’t wait for a minor problem to become a major one – call us if you’re worried about your water meter, we’d be delighted to help out.