Today, we’re going to talk about how you should be using your water meter - yes, that thing in your basement buried behind boxes, bins, laundry, or kids toys that you’re always embarrassed to bring me to when I ask to see it.
Not many of you know it, but that water meter will save you a lot of money if you just learn to read it properly. A couple of quick glances will tell you if you have an unknown leak that you should be taking care of. Not those leaks where you run around scrambling to find the plumbers phone number, those slow, quiet leaks you didn’t even know you had until you water bill comes at 3x the normal amount!
Your water meter can tell you if and how much water is running by looking at 3 different points: the Low Flow Indicator, the Sweep Hand, or the Numerical Reading that works like the odometer in your car! As you will see on the meter, water is measured in M3, or 1000 L.
The Low Flow Indicator will spin when water is in use – the more water is being used, the faster it spins. This isn’t always the best way to tell if you have a very slow leak, as the rotation will likely be too slow for you to see!
The Numerical Reading is on the other end of the sensitivity spectrum. Working in tenths of a M3, each new decimal point will show you an increase of 1/10th of a cubic meter of water usage. This is quite a bit of water, so this reading doesn’t really help us in leak detection (if your leak is big enough that this is running, you won’t need a meter to tell you there’s a leak!).
Where we want to use the meter for leak detection is with the Sweep Hand. Measuring 1/100th of a M3, this is the happy zone in small leak detection.
Tonight, as the last thing you do before you go to bed (after you brush your teeth and use the washroom), go down to your water meter and mark on the meter exactly where the Sweep Hand has landed for the night. If nobody uses any water through the night, that sweep hand should be on the exact same spot when you wake up. If it has moved, there is a leak that will wind up costing you a lot of money over time!
Finding the leak is usually relatively straight forward. We can all see and hear dripping faucets, shower spouts, hose bibs, etc. If you see those things, please take care of them! Even a slowly dripping faucet can waste 100’s of gallons of water every year – cost aside, it’s not ideal to waste water!
The one leak that is a bit tougher to find is in your toilets. Go into the washroom and listen to the toilet – channel your inner plumber and become one with the toilet (it puts a smile on my face thinking of you all on your knees now listening to the toilet 😊). Do you hear a hissing sound? Slight dripping sounds? Those are both indicators of a slight leak, usually caused by a faulty flapper or fill valve. If you hear those sounds, either take care of it yourself or have someone in to take care of it for you. Those are the type of leaks that will sneak up on you when your water bill comes in!
That’s it for this week’s episode of “How NOT to Call the Plumber!” – I hope you all learned something new and we’ll see you next time!