Your Water Meter

Your water meter measures your water use, and we read your meter every two months to calculate your water bill. You should know where your water meter is, how it works and how it can help you save water.

Video Transcript: Water Meter Accuracy Q&A

Hi, my name is dan baker, I’m the utility crew supervisor for the valve meter section here at Helix Water District.
We follow the American Water Works Association guidelines for water meters. Accuracy is measured across three different flows and can fall within one and a half percent of a hundred. Every meter we purchase is tested and certified by the manufacturer. They add a sticker on the meter here to show their test results. When the meters arrive at the meter shop, we grab a sample of those and test them on our own bench to verify their results. One of the tests we do is a high flow test. We flow 10 cubic feet of water through the meter at 25 gallons per minute to measure accuracy. We compare the read on the meter to the measured volume in the tank. In addition to the high flow rate test, we also do a medium flow rate test and a low flow rate test. For the low flow rate, we run water through the meter at a half a gallon per minute and we fill the tank up to one cubic foot. We then compare the reads for accuracy.
One full cubic foot of water that flows through the meter should look like one full revolution of the sweep hand on the face of the meter. For residential meters, we mostly use a positive displacement meter like this one. There’s a chamber inside the meter that’s split by a disc. The disc has to rotate in order for the meter to register. In order for the disc to rotate, water has to pass through it. Meters like this have been around for more than 100 years. What has changed on this meter is the register type. The registers have become much smaller, compact, easier to read and some are even digital. As the meter ages, it actually benefits the customer. What happens is the seal in the disc between the disc and the chamber wears out so more water passes through than actually gets registered. [Music] We actually replace 3,000 meters a year. That’s our target goal for a 20-year meter replacement cycle. [Music] We notify the customer before we turn the water off. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.
Our meter readers read the meter in the field every two months. They enter the read into a handheld device. Our handheld device alerts the reader if the read is out of normal range for that property and forces them to re-enter their reading. Once we upload the reading, we have software that identifies high
and low consumption. Our customer service team reviews these readings based on historical consumption. If there is a high or low reading, we physically send a different meter reader back out to verify the reading. If you still have concerns about your meter, you can request to have the meter retested. Since we already have test results for all the meters, we ask that customers pay for the retest up front. We’ll be happy to meet you at the site where we remove the meter. You’re welcome to follow us back here to the meter shop and witness the entire test process. If there’s still an issue with the meter, we’ll refund the fee and replace the meter at no cost.
Give us a call. We can assist you. We can verify the read. If it’s correct, we can troubleshoot some causes of the high use or we can provide you with a free water use evaluation. Two of the most common reasons for high bills for our customers are leaks and irrigation issues. One of the most common leaks is a toilet leak. A toilet leak can send hundreds of gallons of water down the drain every day. Using your meter is a great tool for tracking high use and looking for leaks. The first thing you want to do is make sure nothing is using water in your home, then head out to the meter. The blue dial on your water meter detects very small flows and can tell you if you have a leak.

The Accuracy of
Your Helix Water Meter

Water meters have to be accurate, to ensure that customer water bills are accurate. Making sure Helix meters are accurate is the responsibility of meter shop manager Dan Baker. In this video, Dan shows how meters work, how we maintain accuracy and how to use your meter to check for leaks on your property. He also discusses what happens to meters as they age and why we replace them.

Video Transcript: Monitor Your Water Use

Hi, I’m Michelle Curtis, a member of the public affairs team at Helix Water District. The district reads customers’ water meters every two months for billing, but you can read your meter anytime to monitor your own water use. The water meter is typically located in front of your property, in the ground, near the sidewalk or the street in a concrete box. The meter box has a white
concrete or metal lid and is usually marked water. Look for spiders, rodents and snakes before you put your hand in the box. The meter’s hinge lid is marked with your meter number, which you will also find on your water bill. Flip open the meter’s hinge lid and wipe off the face to see the display. Your water meter registers water flow the same way a vehicle’s odometer registers mileage. One revolution of the meter’s red sweep hand is equal to one cubic foot of water use or 7.48 gallons. One hundred revolutions or 748 gallons is one billing unit of water. When we read your meter, we record the numbers on the white background, these are whole units to calculate your water usage, and subtract the current meter read from the previous meter read, which can be found on your water bill. To calculate your average daily water use, simply divide your water usage by the number of days since the last read, which can be found on your water bill, as well. And don’t forget to replace the lid when
you’re done. For more tips and videos visit

How to Read Your Meter

This video shows you how to read your meter and monitor your water use.

Sweep Hand
1 time around = 7.48 gallons = 1 cubic foot of water use
100 times around = 748 gallons = 1 unit of water use

Low Flow Indicator
This is the small, star-shaped piece near the center of the meter face. If this spins when you are not using water anywhere on your property, you may have a leak.

Smart Leak Detectors

What They Are

Flow sensors sync to your smartphone and alert you if there is high consumption or a leak on your property.  They are a new technology and offer protection against undiscovered leaks running up your water bill.

The Two Types

There are two types of flow sensors. External devices strap on to your water meter with velcro or zip ties, but can not shut your water off when a large leak occurs. In-line devices can automatically shut off your water when they detect a leak, but they cost more, and a plumber is needed to install them.


Some sensors can measure how much water you use for irrigation and alert you to faulty irrigation programming, broken sprinklers or outdoor leaks. This is a valuable feature given that landscape irrigation is about half of most homeowners’ total water use.

Make sure you install your flow sensor in the right location to meet all of your needs.

How to Check for Leaks

1. Turn Off Your Water
Turn off all water inside and outside your home. Don’t forget your icemaker, irrigation and pool pump.

2. Find Your Meter
Look for a concrete lid with a smaller lid in the middle. If you need assistance, call us at 619-466-0585 during business hours.

3. Open the Meter Box
Remove the lid with a screwdriver and look for spiders and snakes before reaching in. Open the meter’s hinged lid and wipe off the display.

4. Check the Low Flow Indicator
If all the water on your property is off and the low flow indicator is spinning, you may have a leak.

5. Check for Toilet Leaks
Drop a dye tab or food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color appears in the toilet bowl, the toilet is leaking. Replacing the flapper usually stops the leak.

6. Check Outside
Look for running hoses and wet areas in your landscape that may indicate a broken irrigation pipe.

Your Turn-Off Valve

Use the turn-off valve (it’s also called the customer valve) in your meter box to stop water flow to your property. The metal valve handle is on the house side of the meter. To turn off your water, turn the handle clockwise a quarter turn until it is perpendicular to the water pipe. We recommend turning your valve off for a few seconds twice a year to assure that it works.

Digital Meters

Some Helix customers have a digital display on their water meter. These displays rotate automatically through three screens.

Screen A: Consumption

The underlined digits show your water use in units. The display at left, for example, shows 23 units of water use. One unit equals 100 cubic feet — or 748 gallons. After 45 seconds, the consumption view shows six digits and — if water is flowing through the meter — animated line segments appear. If you are not using water, the animated line segments may indicate a water leak on your property.

Screen B: Flow Rate

The flow rate view shows how much water is flowing through the meter in gallons per minute (GPM). Here are some common flow rates for reference:

.01-.05 GPM / dribbling hose bib or leaking toilet
2.5-3.0 GPM / faucet
2.0-5.0 GPM / shower
4.0-5.0 GPM / washing machine
2.0-2.5 GPM / one sprinkler head

Screen C: Meter Model

The meter model view appears for five seconds, indicating your meter type (d=disc meter), meter model number (35) and number of digits in the display (9).

All Screens: Status Indicators

These icons appear below the numbers on the screen and indicate the display’s status.


The display is operating correctly,


The display is not operating correctly. Please call Helix at 619-466-0585 to report.

24 hours of continuous water flow detected.

No measured water flow in the past 30 days.

End of battery life.


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