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Meter Reading


The City of Hickory's meter reading department consists of five meter readers that cover the entire Hickory area, and some designated routes including parts of Conover and Newton, Sherrills Ford and Catawba, and a few routes in Caldwell County. We also cover a portion of Alexander County, which includes Bethlehem and Taylorsville.  We have approximately 26,000 residential and commercial water meters and that number continues to increase as the area experiences more and more development and growth.   We try to achieve a goal of 400 meters per day, per meter reader, and work diligently to see that this goal is met.  Meter readers record data using a handheld devise (a small, electronic computer-like devise that stores all the readings from their daily routes).

Duties of a Meter Reader

A meter reader's duties don't stop at simply reading your water meter. 

  •      Meter readers observe condition of water meter & note any maintenance issues.
  •      Issues service request to maintenance crews.
  •      Communicates with customer any potential problems with water meter or if they had to cut off water for some reason (usually by placing a blue tag on homeowner's door).
  •      Meter readers must have access to your water meter at all times, so make sure that it doesn't get covered with dirt, mulch or a vehicle.
  •      Meter readers must be able to work efficiently with the public, be able to work safely with good driving practices and accurately read different types of meters.
  •      Meter readers must be in good physical condition and be able to endure a variety of climatic conditions and be very familiar with their assigned routes and the environment, which can involve vicious dogs, difficult terrain, climbing up/down hills, bending, kneeling, climbing and crawling in order to read meters. 
  •    It can take up to two years for a meter reader to be completely trained and ready to go out on their own assigned routes.

How to read your water meter

It's a good idea to know how and where to locate your water meter, for two reasons.  First, you might be interested in how much water you use in a day.  By reading your meter at the beginning and end of the day, you can compare these two totals and determine how much water you and your family used.  The second reason would be to check for leaks. If you turn off all the faucets in your house, look at your meter and it is still turning, there's a strong possibility that you have a leak somewhere. Below are some helpful tips to help you find and read your water meter:

1.  Locate your water meter.  Your water meter is usually located near the curb in front of your home or business.  It is in either a plastic or cast-iron meter box usually marked "WATER."  The plastic meter boxes usually have a flap that you can easily unhook to get to the meter.  On the cast-iron meter boxes, you can remove the lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver.  Insert the tool into one of the holes and pry the lid off.  Look at the area around the meter to make sure there are no harmful insects/animals.  (Many times, black widows like to hide out in these places, so be careful.)

2.  Read your water meter.  With the exception of some meters in Taylorsville and Longview, which measures water in gallons, City of Hickory meters measure water in cubic feet (one cubic foot = about 7.5 gallons). Charges for the amount of water consumed are based on the number of cubic feet used during a billing period.

The City of Hickory uses two types of water meters - the straight-reading meter, which resembles an odometer in a car, and the older round-reading meter, which resembles a clock.

                 Straight-Reading Meter

This is the easiest type of meter to read.  The numbers are read from left to right.  The last digit on the right is changed to 0.  Example:  Let's say the diagram to the right shows the meter is reading 510.  (Note:  the large sweep hand shows that water is running through the meter, and the small red triangle is the leak detector.  When the sweep hand makes one complete circle on the dial, 7.5 gallons of water have passed through the meter.)

So, if you used 20 units of water over the next billing period, the next meter reading would be 530, and your water bill would be based on the difference between the two readings.

Round-Reading Meter
This meter is more difficult to read.  It has a set of six dials in a circle.  The dials are in multiples of ten and are read much like a clock, except that the hand on every other dial turns counterclockwise.  To tell which way one hand goes, look to see which way the numbers are printed around the dial.

To read the meter in the diagram to the right, start with the 100,000 dial and read each dial around the meter to the 1,000 dial.  The 100 and 10 dials are rounded off.  The one foot hand is a test hand and is not read.  If a hand is between two numbers, use the lower number.  Let's say that the meter in the diagram to the right reads 910.  If you used 25 units of water over the next billing period, the next meter reading would be 935.

It is important to know how to check for water leaks.  This can save you water, which can save you money on your water bill.

To check for a leak, turn all faucets/water-using appliances off so that no water is being used anywhere in the house.  If the meter dials haven't moved after a few minutes of observation, you do not have a leak.  If the dials have moved, you need to check areas in the home for water leaks.  If you have everything turned off and are sure the toilets and faucets aren't leaking and the dials are still turning, you may have a hidden leak elsewhere, such as an underground pipe.  If this is the case, you may need to call a plumber for assistance.  Please note that all leaks on the homeowner's property are the homeowner's responsibility.

If we can be of further assistance, please contact us at 828-323-7427.