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I'm in a debate with my water company about usage. Are there any methods to verify that the reading on my water meter outside my house is increasing at the proper rate?

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You'd probably need a second meter for that. As a first step, have you shutoff your water in your house and verified that the meter stops? There could be a leak. –  BMitch Aug 15 '12 at 14:44
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Shutting off the meter won't help find a leak. If the leak is the cause of the high usage, it will be beyond the meter. If you shut off the supply, it will stop leaking. –  Chris Cudmore Aug 15 '12 at 15:04
    
Get it replaced with a new one by the council / approved plumber. If you are still getting some abnormal readings / prices there must be major leak or maybe your neighbourly is stealing your water(I have seen it before). –  ppumkin Aug 15 '12 at 15:41
    
@ChrisCudmore I was referring to shutting off the water in the house to verify there's no leak between the meter and the house. After that, Steven is right to open the house shutoff with everything else closed to make sure there isn't a leak somewhere inside the house. –  BMitch Aug 15 '12 at 17:28
    
Can you share how much your usage disagrees with the bill? Are we talking a 100 gallons? 1000? 10000? Is your usage atypical when compared to friends or neighbors in the same area with the same water company and similar usage habits? –  Freiheit Aug 15 '12 at 18:13
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Water meter calibration is something your water company can do for you, or you can hire an independent company to do it. I saw one water company charge $70 for calibration.

When water meters lose accuracy with age it is usually in your favor: large-scale calibration efforts have been profitable for water companies because replacing inaccurate meters usually leads to more revenues for them.

Before doing anything, test for leaks by turning off all faucets and appliances and verify that the meter stops. You can also learn a lot by watching the meter as you use water in different ways. (You will be surprised to see how much watering the lawn is costing you!)

You could try a rough DIY calibration by filling a large vessel of known volume, such as a kiddie pool, but you may need several samples to get an accurate estimate.

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Completely agree that old meters favor the home owner. When they replaced our meters, they sent out letters warning us that readings would likely increase. –  BMitch Aug 15 '12 at 14:55
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Here's what I'd do to verify your meter is working correctly. First, shut off the water to your house where it enters and note the reading on the meter. Give it a couple hours and check the meter again - it should be the exact reading it was before. If it is not, there is a leak between the meter and your shutoff.

Next, turn your houses main supply back on but don't use any water. Again, give it a couple hours and check the meter again. If it has changed then there is a leak somewhere in your house (or in the sprinkler system, etc.).

If you've ruled out leaks, now its time to use a fixed and measurable amount of water. Check the meter reading, then go fill a couple large bucks with a known size. Go back to the meter and check to see if it reflects the correct usage. If it does not then there might very well be an issue with the meter.

Also check that the reading the company is reporting is the same reading on your meter. If it is manually read, it could be a human error.

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Putting another meter straight after the meter in question will verify the accuracy/inaccuracy of the meter in question. regardless if there is a leak or not. Usually differences will only happen on 100's of litres.. not on a bucket or two. So you run the 2 meters for a month or a quarter and check the differences. If the difference are close to zero (~0) then the meters are working OK. Your answer is good for checking for leaks I suppose and another meter is not necessary for that. –  ppumkin Aug 15 '12 at 15:39
    
I'm not sure about everyone else, but my water bill comes in 1,000 gallon increments. How big is your bucket? :) –  BMitch Aug 15 '12 at 17:31
    
My bill comes down to the litre! –  Steven Aug 15 '12 at 17:37
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