How much do you know about the water meter in your home?

water meter in basementEvery house connected to municipal water has a water meter. The local municipality uses your water meter to measure how much water you are using, and you are billed based on the reading from that meter. Most cities measure your water usage quarterly and will bill you accordingly. All municipalities charge you for the water being supplied to you during the quarter, and some municipalities also charge you for processing the wastewater.

If you look carefully at your water bill, you might see one, two, or three designations of what you are actually being charged for. In the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area, slightly more than half of the bill is for processing sewer water, and the balance is for the clean water delivered to you by the municipality.

If you don’t get your water from your local municipality, you likely have a well on your property. If you have a well connected to your house, you will have a pressure tank with one valve beside it in the house’s basement. Water meters usually have two shut-off valves. The first one is on the “street side,” which is the water coming into the meter.

The other valve is on the “house side,” the water leaving your water meter and serving your house. When you need to turn the water off, you can turn off either of the valves. If you turn one of the valves off and it seems like the water is not slowing down after a bit, then turn the other valve off as well. It will not hurt anything to turn both valves off.

Many of the older style valves by water meters are wheel-shaped or round-handled valves, and they turn off by turning clockwise, from left to right. Most of the newer valves are ball valves with a single lever, where you turn the lever clockwise to turn it off. If you try to turn it the other way, it will not move. You only have to turn that valve 90 degrees from a horizontal position to a vertical position, and the water is fully turned off. Sometimes these valves are a little sticky, and you have to provide some energy to get them to turn, whether they are the wheel-handled valve or the lever-handled ball valve. This is especially true if they haven’t been turned on or off for a while.

If you have a plumbing problem, you can go to your water meter, turn the valves off, and then call your plumber to come out and help you assess and fix the problem or stabilize the situation and plan the next steps. Often when St Paul Pipeworks plumbers respond to an emergency, they will get the customer stable, doing what is necessary to restore running water to the home, and then they can return later to work on the repairs that need to be done. Usually, even if the repair is major and the plumbers have to come back the next day to complete the job, they will leave the homeowner with running water to use in the meantime. Nobody likes to be without their water.

St Paul Pipeworks recommends labeling that valve so that when you’ve got trouble, it is easier to remember what to do. St Paul Pipeworks will assist their customers by putting a valve tag on the water meter valve, describing which valve to turn and how to shut it off.


If you have any questions about your water meter or are just looking for a quality plumber in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area, send St Paul Pipeworks a message or give us a call at (651)644-9400 today!


Yours Truly,

Matthew Dettwiler

Social Media Manager


Water Meters: What do you need to know? Ask A Plumber