How To Read Your Meter and Leak Checking
General Water Meter Information

Water usage is billed by how many units are used during the billing cycle (A billing unit is 100 cubic feet of water, or 748 gallons). Knowing exactly how much water you use on a regular basis could help you significantly reduce your water usage. Once you know how much you’re using, you’re able to use that data to make meaningful changes in your consumption.

The first step in reading your meter is to locate it in your house. The meter is usually located whenever the water service enters the house and generally in the basement or a utility room. KCWA has two kinds of meters. Open the cover to determine if you have an analog or digital meter. Once you have located your meter, follow the steps below to read your meter. After you read your meter, remember to carefully replace the meter box cover.

If you’ve ever read a car odometer, you have a head start on how to read your water meter. Regularly reading your meter can help you catch and stop costly leaks, gain insight into how much water individual tasks use and estimate your water use for a given week or month. Helpful tips for reading your meter include:
Analog Displays

Read your meter left to right, like an odometer on a car. The example meters shown read 2.52 cubic feet.

The numbers on the “odometer” measure water in cubic feet. Locate the decimal point. The numbers to the left represent the total cubic feet of water and the numbers to the right represent the partial cubic feet. The numbers in the sweep hand are placed last. The meter shown here reads 2.521 cubic feet.

The numbers to the left of the decimal are for billing. KCWA bills by the cubic foot of water used. One cubic foot of water is 7.48 gallons. The numbers to the right of the decimal point are not used for billing purposes but are helpful in measuring smaller water usage or leaks. To check for leaks, first make sure water is off to all fixtures in the home or business.

Leak Checking on Meters with Analog Displays

Your analog display meter contains a leak detection indicator, a red indicator dial as shown here on the meter face. You may have a leak if the sweep hand or dial is moving is moving and all water is off in your home or business.

The most common type of small leak is in a toilet. If you would like to also check for your meter's accuracy, read our
How to check meter accuracy page
Digital Displays

Located on the face of the meter is a solar panel and display. Shine a flashlight on the solar panel to wake up the meter. (The flashlight function on a cell phone is not strong enough to activate the display.)

The meter serial number will display first, then after a few seconds the meter read will show. The display will cycle between the current read (in cubic feet) and the flow rate (in gallons).

Leak Checking on Meters with Digital Displays

To check for hidden leaks, such as a leaking irrigation system, shut off all the water in your house and yard. Look at the upper left corner of the meter display. A graphic of a faucet may be displayed as shown here.

If the faucet is flashing indicates that water was being used during 50 of the possible 96 15-minute recorded intervals within the last 24 hours. This does not necessarily indicate that a leak is present but shows the frequency of water use. If the faucet is solid (not flashing), it indicates that water was being used continuously over the last 24 hours. Also, in the display, the flow rate should be 0 and the current usage should not be changing.

The most common type of small leak is in a toilet. If you would like to also check for your meter's accuracy, read our
How to check meter accuracy page.
How to Detect a Leaky Toilet
Leaking toilets are the number one source of wasted water in the home. A leaky toilet tank wastes between 300 gallons (slow leak) and 60,000 gallons (running toilet) per month. To safeguard against this problem, it is highly recommended that you perform this test at least twice a year. Catching a toilet leak at its earliest stage can save a lot of water from being wasted as well as money on your water bill each month. To detect a slow leak watch How to Detect a Leaky Toilet or follow these steps:
  1. Remove tank lid
  2. Put 10-15 drops of food coloring or a dye tablet in the toilet tank. KCWA can provide you with dye tablets, just give us a call at (401) 821-9300 or send us an email, and we will drop some off at your home or business
  3. Wait 30 minutes without flushing
  4. After 30 minutes, if the water in the bowl turns color, your toilet tank is leaking
  5. Replace the parts inside your toilet tank. Repair kits are inexpensive and are available at most hardware and home improvement stores
Leaky Toilet Testing Steps
Flapper Valve Leaks
The most common reason for a leaking toilet is one that has an improperly working or sealing flapper. The flapper is the rubber valve in the bottom of the tank that lifts up when the toilet is flushed. If the flapper is worn or cracked, it allows water to continuously flow from the tank into the toilet bowl without flushing.
Flush Handle Problems
If the handle needs to be jiggled to keep the toilet from running, the flush level bar and chain (or the handle itself) may be sticking. Adjust the nut that secures it in the toilet tank. If that does not work, the handle may have to be replaced.
Overflow Tube Leaks
Ideally the water level should be set so that it is about even with the fill line on the back of the toilet tank (approximately ½ inch below the overflow tube). If the water is too high in the toilet tank and is spilling into the overflow tube, the water level can be adjusted by turning the adjustment screw or by very gently bending the float arm down so that the water shuts off at a level below the overflow tube.
The Cost of a Leak
An unrepaired leak can be costly as shown in the following table:

  Contact Information

Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am to 4pm
  Phone: (401) 821-9300
  Fax: (401) 823-4810
  Email Customer Service

1072 Main Street
PO Box 192
West Warwick, RI 02893-0192