How to Quickly and Easily Read Your Water Meter

An experienced Water Leak Detection company like ours comes across water meters on a regular basis (usually Yorkshire Water Meters in the areas we cover), and they help us and you by providing useful information.

The image below depicts a typical water meter in the United Kingdom:

Water Meter Reading - Numbers and Dials. Yorkshire. Water Meter Reading - Dials and Numbers

We mentioned in our guide to how much water leaks use that having a high water bill is one of the signs of a water leak and, as a result, one of the reasons that people contact us for help in finding a water leak.

However, some people are perplexed as to what the numbers on their water meter mean and how to take a water meter reading. Knowing how to read a water meter is extremely useful, so we will describe what a 'typical' water meter looks like and what the numbers and dials on them typically mean in the UK.

What Do the Numbers on a Water Meter Mean?

A standard analogue water meter is made up of four major components:

  1. Water meter with black numbers displaying meters cubed of water (thousands of litres)
  2. Water meter with red numbers indicating the number of litres used
  3. Water Meter'Dial' (similar to a clock face) displaying decilitre (100ml) increments
  4. Spinning 'Cog' Water Meter displaying 10 millilitre (10ml) increments

Hopefully, this has helped to clear up some of the mystery surrounding water meter readings and provided some guidance on what the various symbols on a water meter mean. In reality, they are all measuring water usage in different amounts and ways. This enables you to count water meters in very small increments.

Our helpful video on water meter reading demonstrates how to read a water meter visually:

Digital water meters are more common nowadays, but they perform the same function, and the black and red water meter numbers above will be replaced by digital displays. Furthermore, smart water meter readings are possible with modern water meters. To enable water companies to collect and record water meter readings.

This information is used to calculate your water bill and, in some cases, to notify water companies about potential water leaks, which they may then notify their customers about. This and other related topics are covered in our article about Yorkshire Water Leaks in your home or business.

In terms of businesses, we also provide commercial leak detection services. This is a valuable service for businesses because they are almost always on a water meter, may use a lot of water, and may experience business disruption due to a water leak. Finding a water leak quickly can save you a lot of money and time.

What Do the Units on a Water Meter Mean?

If you look closely at the water meter image above, you will notice the 'M3' symbol, which stands for 1 meter cubed (imagine a tank 1m x 1m x 1m) which is 1,000 litres, or roughly the size of an LBC Water Tank. The dial numbers are based on those units, particularly the black numbers on a water meter reading. Others are fractions of that, including the red numbers, which (as previously stated) are litres.

Water Meter Numbers on Dials, black and red., Yorkshire Water Meter Dial Numbers

So, in this example, 216,532 litres of water have been used since the installation of the water meter. That is a large amount of water, roughly equivalent to:

  • c 11 Olympic Swimming Pools
  • More than 2,000 bath tubs of water
  • Your shower has been used 3,900 times.
  • Your toilet has been flushed over 25,000 times.
UK Water Meter, Yorkshire. Water Meter in the United Kingdom

In our article about Christmas water leaks, which provides some useful guidance for the colder months of the year, particularly December, we discuss how useful water meter readings can be.

What happened to my water meter?

Water meters are typically found at the property's boundary, where the mains feed connects to your own property supply pipe, as shown in the image below. As a result, the water meter and its maintenance are typically the responsibility of the water company. Water meter leaks are also common in most cases.

Water Meter Location, Yorkshire. Location of the Water Meter

If you are in an area with multiple properties, such as a flat or a business estate, water meter readings can be taken for each property. When checking a water meter reading in this situation, make sure you know which meter belongs to you. If in doubt, contact your water company to obtain your meter reference to compare.

Leak Detection and Water Meters

As previously stated, people occasionally contact us because they have noticed when taking a water meter reading that they are using a lot of water or that their water meter dials are constantly spinning, which can indicate a water leak.

Interestingly, we use water meters and meter readings to (a) check for leaks (along with other trace and access methods) and (b) quantify the amount of water lost. This information is useful to us for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is understanding the scope of water leaks.

A large water leak is obviously different from a relatively small one, and as you might expect, we do a lot of work finding small and hidden water leaks, such as when a boiler loses pressure. As our video below demonstrates, even a small leak can waste a lot of water and cause a lot of water damage to a property:

Here's a helpful video and article that explain our water leak detection services. A great blog post on finding a leak under homes is also very relevant to water meter reading.

Top Tip for Reading a Water Meter
"If your water meter reading dials are moving despite the fact that all appliances and taps in your home or business are turned off, you may have a water leak." Check it out with our leak detection team."

Team for Detecting Leaks

How can I obtain a Water Meter?

This will vary depending on who provides your water meter, but here are a few examples from water companies in the North of England, each of which has a page on their website:

Obviously, you must decide (if you have the option) whether having a water meter is beneficial to you. There are several factors to consider, including the cost of water.

Rainbow International - Leak Detection Rainbow International Detects Leaks

We are experts in dealing with flood water damage for people in the York and Yorkshire Coast area, so if you have been flooded, please contact our friendly team to arrange for assistance and guidance. We also deal with Yorkshire water leaks in homes and businesses in the area. Here are the areas we service.

Rainbow International - York & Yorkshire Coast are experts in Leak Detection, including Commercial Leak Detection, as well as Water Damage Restoration, so if you need assistance finding a water leak or restoring your property after a leak or flood, please contact us. contact our helpful local team, who will gladly assist you with this. We are headquartered in York.

Logo for Leak Detection
Leak Detection Logo - Small

The first step in attempting to read your water meter reading is to locate it. Water meters in the United Kingdom are typically located at the property's boundary, near public footpaths, and so on. Finding your water meter may be more difficult if you live in a neighborhood with many properties. Once you've found it, write down the numbers on the analogue or digital dial (or take a photo of them) and follow our instructions above. If you can't find your water meter, contact your local water company for assistance.

Leak Detection Logo - Small

Smart water meters are more modern water meters that can be read automatically from the water company without the need for a manual reading. The meter frequently has an attachment or integral part that transmits a signal from the water company to the reader, allowing them to read a large number of meters quickly and accurately. Water meters can even be read remotely via the internet in some cases.

The main units on a water meter are usually metres cubed (M3), which is equal to 1,000 litres. So, if you see 100 on the main numbers, that means 100,000 litres are being used (generally shown as black numbers). Most water meter readings, however, will also include lower denominations and measurements of water, usually in litres, as indicated by the red numbers. The accompanying dials display small amounts of millilitres.

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