Water Meters

Where is my water meter, and how do I read it?
How does the City read the meter?
What is a unit of water?
Why is my consumption so high?
Can I test the accuracy of my water meter?
How can the water meter tell me if I have a leak?

Where is my water meter, and how do I read it?

Your meter is located in the basement of your property. It is not outside, as it would freeze in Minnesota. The water usually comes in from the street side of the house. The meter sits on the water pipe that comes in through the floor. The head of the meter is about three inches in diameter and has a large hand and a small red diamond or triangle. Read the six numbers on the meter display, where it says cubic feet, from left to right.

Note: You may see what looks like water on the face of the dial. It is oil that prevents corrosion and increases the life of the dial mechanism. It does not enter the water supply and does not affect the quality of the water delivered to the customer.

How does the City read the meter?

Most of the water meters in Minneapolis have a remote reading device that allows the City to either obtain a reading over the phone line or by electronic radio transmission. Meters without remote devices require a meter service worker to enter the property to obtain a reading.

Automatic meters report readings once a month. If you have a phone-type reporting device your phone line must be working for the meter to report. Properties without remote devices will have their meters read each month as well.

What is a unit of water?

Water usage is measured by consumption units. One consumption unit is 100 cubic feet or about 748 gallons. A container five feet long by five feet wide and four feet high holds one consumption unit.

Why is my consumption so high?

Consumption may be high for many reasons. If a bill is estimated too low for a length of time, an actual meter reading may result in a large increase. More people may be living in the household. During the summer, water consumption may be higher because you are watering the lawn or garden, or an outside hose may be left on. In commercial situations, you may have water-cooled air conditioning or your business may have increased or changed adding to water usage. Often, consumption may be high because of leaky plumbing.

Can I test the accuracy of my water meter?

Customers often think the meter is not working right causing high readings. To test the accuracy of your meter, use the following procedure:

Run water until the test dial (the red sweep hand located on the face of the meter) points to zero. The test hand will be straight up in the 12 o'clock position when it is on zero. Fill a one-gallon container with water. Check the position of the red test dial. It should measure .1333 cubic feet.

How can the water meter tell me if I have a leak?

Newer types of water meters have a leak indicator on the face of the dial; see the photo. It is a triangular or diamond-shaped indicator that revolves 354 times for every gallon of water that passes through the meter.

To check for leaks, look at the indicator when no one is drawing water. It should not be moving. If it is moving, check every plumbing fixture at the property, i.e., toilet, sink, outside sprinkler, washer, etc. Shut off the valves that supply each fixture, one by one, and check the indicator after each shutoff. When closing a valve stops the indicator from moving, or slows its movement, you have found the location of a leak. There may be more than one leak!

Once the leak is repaired, check the leak indicator again and make sure all leaks are repaired.

Last updated Oct 5, 2018

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