A guide to reading your water meter safely

We’d recommend you read your water meter on a regular basis. If you already take monthly gas and electricity meter readings, why not do it at the same time? Regular reads help to keep your bills more accurate and can help identify issues such as a leak, which can cost more than you expect. However, we’d only advise you to read your meter if it’s safe, so here are some things to consider.

Reading an internal water meter

Firstly, you need to know where your water meter is. If your meter is inside your business premises, it’ll likely be on the water pipe that enters the property, near the stop tap.

It’s always best to carry out a risk assessment before attempting to read the meter, by checking that it’s in a safe place and there are no health and safety risks in the surrounding area. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is there enough lighting for you to safely see what you’re doing?
  • Is there clear access to the meter with nothing you could trip over?
  • Is the meter at a height you can reach or will you need to use a step ladder?
  • If using a ladder, have you got someone to help?

Reading an external water meter

If your meter is external, it’s likely to be in an underground chamber close to your property boundary. They’re often in chambers that are covered by a plastic or metal cover, which can make reading an external meter more difficult.

If your meter meets one of the following criteria, it's defined as 'hard to read' by the market operator, MOSL, so we wouldn't recommend reading it yourself.

  • The meter cover is deemed a two-person cover lift – this is for you decide yourself by carrying out your own risk assessment. If the lid is large, heavy, is in two or more sections or has signs of wear and tear we do not recommend trying to read it yourself.
  • The meter is deeper than 1.2m inside the chamber.
  • A permit to work is required to enter safely.
  • It’s in a carriageway or junction, under a road or rail bridge, is adjacent to a railway, dual carriageway or motorway junction.
  • It’s in a flooded area or contaminated land.
  • It’s on private land or requires special access.
  • The meter location falls under the Working at Height Regulations 2005 or the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997.

Some other things to consider are:

  • If your meter cover needs specific tools to access the meter, like meter keys, we’d avoid trying to access it.
  • If you open your meter chamber and find that it is full of debris, use a long soft brush (like a long-handled paint brush) to remove it. You should never use bare hands in case of broken glass, sharp debris or animal faeces.
  • If your meter chamber is found on a footpath or in a field where members of the public might be, is it safe to open? Or has the lid been replaced properly?

Unless you have a specific team that is trained to read an external meter and is able to wear PPE, it’s best to leave an external meter to our meter reading specialists, or think about one of our data collection devices which are designed to read your meter for you.

If you notice that the meter chamber or your meter is damaged, please get in touch with us and we’ll work with your wholesaler to get this resolved.

Submitting your meter read

When it comes to sending us your meter read, you’ll only need to send us the black digits from left to right including any zeros at the beginning. You can ignore any of the digits that are shown in red or after the decimal place. The digits we need are shown in yellow boxes in the photos below.

You can see more information in our guide and can send us your readings through My Account or on our website.