Become familiar with this system so you can shut off your water supply if necessary, test for leaks and understand your water usage. While most water companies encourage residents to check their water meters, some companies prohibit opening or tampering with them. Check your company’s specific regulations before you inspect your water meter.
Locate your water meter. You can usually find the water meter wherever water service enters your house. This could be outside, in the basement or in a utility room (if you live in an area that sees cold winters, the water meter should always be located in a heated part of the home and will never be outside). It is a small, round metal box with a row of numbers on the top. If you can’t find your water meter, contact your water company and ask them where it is.
Become familiar with your main shut-off valve. Usually the shut-off valve is located beside or nearby the water meter. To shut off your water, either turn the valve so that it’s perpendicular to the pipe (which is the “off” position) or turn it clockwise until it won’t turn anymore. This valve will shut off the water to your entire house, which can be necessary if you are doing major plumbing work, such as repairing a frozen pipe, or if you are leaving your house for an extended period of time.
Learn how to read your meter. Water meters can vary in appearance, but they will almost always measure your water usage in gallons or cubic feet. If you have a round-reading meter, which has six dials and is common in older homes, it will be a little more difficult to read than new models. Start at the “100,000” dial and read counterclockwise until you reach the “one foot” dial. Each dial indicates the number that belongs in that space. For example, if the dials read 0, 0, 4, 3, 5, 2 then your water usage is at 4,352 cubic feet.
Check for leaks. Turn off all the taps in your house as well as all water-using appliances and systems (including things like your irrigation and sprinkler systems). Then check to see if your meter continues to run. If it does, you may have a water leak somewhere in your house. Note: Some meters will have a triangular disc, commonly called a leak indicator, which will spin if there is a leak. Check your toilets, washing machines, faucets and other water-using appliances for leaks. To learn more about checking your toilet for leaks, read: Maintain Your Toilets.
Try to conserve water (optional). Lowering your water usage will save you money and help the environment. Monitor your water usage for a week, and then try to reduce that amount by a little bit each week. For specific water conservation tips, read: Conserve Water.