How to Read Your Water Meter and Detect Leaks

Typical water meterReading your water meter

Your water meter (usually located in the ground, at the front curb or in the alley) measures the amount of water used in your household. It’s a good idea to learn how to read it should you want to verify the monthly reading on your water bill.

How to read your meter

Most water meters use straight-reading dials (like the one pictured here) which are read the same way you read your vehicle odometer. Meters measure water use in cubic feet (one cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons). As Tucson Water calculates water bills based on hundreds of cubic feet (Ccf) or per 748 gallons, the last two digits on the meter dial are dropped when the meter is read. In this example, the meter reads 148 CCFs.

How to verify your monthly reading

Tucson Water employees read your meter about the same day each month. The date the meter was read appears at the top of your bill. The reading is recorded in Ccf as “Water Usage." To verify your monthly reading next month, read your meter on the same day it was read the previous month. Subtract your previous reading from this new reading to obtain your monthly water use. Remember to multiply the sum by 748 to convert to gallons.

Using your water meter to detect leaks

Your water meter can help you determine whether your water-using fixtures have inconspicuous leaks. It’s the best place to begin your search.

  1. Turn off all faucets and water-consuming appliances, including evaporative coolers and ice-makers in refrigerators.
  2. Check the needle’s position on the dial and note the time.
  3. Check the needle’s position again after 15-30 minutes. If the needle’s position has changed, you may have a leak.

Some meters have a blue triangle dial on the face, which turns with low flow through the meter and makes it easier to detect when water is moving through the meter.

How do you decide whether there is a leak somewhere inside the house, or between the water meter and the house? Turn off your house valve. If the needle on the water meter dial (or the blue triangle) continues to move, you may have a leak between your house and the water meter. If the needle has not moved, you may have a leak within your house. Consider contacting a plumber to check the problem.

It is a good idea to periodically check for leaks. Start with your toilets and faucets.

The Billing Office can help you locate and read your meter. Call (520) 791-3242 for more information or send an e-mail to Customer Service.

This information is also available as printable one-page pdf file pdf.