Dealing with a water leak at the meter can be a cause of concern for homeowners, raising questions about responsibility and potential costs. In this guide, we aim to shed light on the common scenarios surrounding water leaks at meters and help you understand who might be responsible for addressing and fixing the issue.

Understanding the Basics

The water meter is a crucial component of your home’s plumbing system. It measures the amount of water that enters your property, helping utility companies bill you accurately for your water consumption. When a leak occurs at the meter, it can lead to wasted water, increased bills, and potential property damage.

According to Sacramento County water resources, you have a couple of ways to check for leaks at the meter:

The low-flow indicator on your meter rotates when you are using water. To check for a leak, turn off water using fixtures inside and outside your home. If the low-flow indicator is still turning, you most likely have a leak.

Not all meters have the low-flow indicator – you can also check for a leak by evaluating the round dial with a red hand. If movement is faster than any other dial, this would be a leak detection indicator. If you have a leak, it should be investigated further.”

Common Causes of Water Leaks at the Meter

Several factors can contribute to water leaks at the meter, and understanding these causes is essential in determining responsibility:

  1. Age and Wear:

Over time, the materials in your plumbing system, including the meter, may deteriorate due to age and wear. This can result in cracks, corrosion, or other issues that lead to leaks.

  1. Freezing Temperatures:

In colder climates, freezing temperatures can cause water in the meter and pipes to expand, leading to cracks or ruptures. Thawing after a freeze can also reveal previously undetected leaks.

  1. Ground Shifting:

Changes in the soil, such as ground settling or shifting, can impact the stability of the pipes and meter. This can create stress points that eventually result in leaks.

Determining Responsibility

The responsibility for addressing a water leak at the meter often depends on the location of the leak and the ownership structure of the plumbing system. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. On Your Property:

If the leak is on your property, typically before the water meter, the responsibility usually falls on the homeowner. This includes the pipes leading from the main line to the meter.

  1. At the Meter:

If the leak occurs at the meter itself or on the utility side of the meter, the responsibility typically rests with the utility company. The meter is their property, and they are responsible for maintaining and repairing it.

  1. Shared Responsibility:

In some cases, responsibility for repairs may be shared between the homeowner and the utility company. It’s essential to check local regulations and agreements to understand the specific responsibilities in your area.

Taking Action

If you suspect a water leak at the meter, prompt action is crucial to minimize potential damage and costs. Here are steps you can take:

  1. Turn Off the Water:

Locate the main shut-off valve and turn off the water supply to your property. This will prevent further water waste and potential damage.

  1. Contact the Utility Company:

If the leak is at the meter or on the utility side, contact your local utility company immediately. Report the issue, provide details, and inquire about their process for addressing meter leaks.

  1. Consult a Professional:

For leaks on your property, consult a licensed plumber to assess the situation. They can identify the source of the leak, provide repair estimates, and guide you on the necessary steps.


Dealing with a water leak at the meter requires a clear understanding of responsibilities and swift action. Whether the responsibility lies with the homeowner or the utility company depends on the location of the leak. In any case, acting promptly, consulting professionals, and understanding local regulations will help you address the issue efficiently and minimize potential damage and costs. If you’re unsure about the responsibility for a water leak at your meter, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local utility company or a licensed plumbing professional for guidance.