Frequently Asked Question
Water meters and their settings are owned and maintained by the Albemarle County Service Authority. Meters are located near the edge of the property in a small pit, covered by a cast iron lid.
Please make every effort to keep the top of the meter box clear to allow easy reading. It is also helpful to keep plants, shrubs and trees trimmed away from our meters.
ACSA reads all meters monthly. If there is an obstruction over the meter box that prevents a reading, the customer will be notified and asked to clear the box top so that we can record a consumption. Except for a few industrial meters with remote connections, all of our meters are outside, buried in the ground at your property line.
All ACSA water meters are magnetic drive, meaning, the measuring chamber the water flows through and the recording dial that shows consumption are connected only by rotating magnets, The advantage of this type of meter is that they are not subject to mechanical malfunction as they might be if the measuring chamber and recording dial were physically linked, and therefore, it is unlikely the meter will ever over-register consumption.
To read your ACSA water meter, you will need to remove the top, which you can do with a large screwdriver inserted under the outer lip.
Many of our newer meters have a sensor in the lid, connected by a wire to the meter. When you open the top, be careful not to disconnect or damage this wire. Most meters have black plastic hinged caps covering the reading dial. The meter will have a single sweep hand that moves clockwise, registering ten gallons’ consumption in one rotation. The rightmost “0” on the dial is fixed. After one sweep hand rotation, the next digit to the left increases by one (10 gallons).
The white triangle at the pivot of the sweep hand is a leak detector, which turns noticeably even when a very small amount of water (less than enough to make the sweep hand turn much) is passing through the meter. If you have turned off your main water valve and this triangle is turning, there is a leak between the meter and your main valve.
If your consumption is unusually high (80-100% more than the previous month, with no increase in the number of occupants or change in use, like lawn watering), call ACSA and we can walk you through the process of checking for internal and external leaks.
A broken water main is a spectacular example of water loss, however, it is a loss that the utility absorbs. The small, sometimes barely noticeable, leaks in your internal plumbing are costing you money, as well as wasting an important resource, and even a dripping faucet can “use” thousands of gallons a year. To see what different size leaks waste, or to calculate how much water an internal leak you may now have, is pouring down the drain, try this Drip Calculator provided by the American Water Works Association.
If you have just filled your pool, started watering your garden, installed a dishwasher, or increased the number of people in your home or business, you can expect a jump in your water usage. But a one-time activity (such as filling your pool) should not make your bill stay higher; and gradually increasing billed volume should alert you to the possibility of a leak in your system. When our meter readers notice a large jump in consumption from the previous month, they leave a “leak letter” suggesting that you investigate.
A 10-25% variation in water use is not unusual. If your volume (indicated by the graph on your bill) increases by 25% or more, or continues to creep up, and you have no rational explanation, you should try the following:
If you want your meter tested for accuracy, call the ACSA office at 434.977.4511. You will be required to make a nominal deposit before the test is scheduled. This fee is to cover a portion of our costs, if the meter is accurate or under-registers your consumption, of dispatching a vehicle to your service address, pulling the meter, installing a new, pre-tested meter, and running the test on our test bench. You may be present during the meter test, which will be scheduled at our convenience. If the meter over-registers by industry standards (more than 3% over its useful recording range), we will adjust your bill to your normal consumption for up to three billing periods preceding your request and refund your test deposit.
If you ever have a line break inside your home (or if you want to check for a leak), you need to know where you master valve is located. There are three most likely locations:
To make sure you have found the right valve, try turning it off briefly and see if all your water faucets are shut-off. If they are not, try again. Mark the master valve clearly, with a tag, bright ribbon or paint so anyone can find it in an emergency.
Leak in building
Turn off your master valve. If you cannot find it call 434.977.4511 to have your meter turned off.
Water leak between meter and building
Call us first to turn off the meter, then call a plumber to repair your line.
Outside normal work hours (8-5 Monday to Friday) and on holidays
Call our after-hours dispatcher at 1-888-252-3468.
Water flows downhill of its own accord; however, water can flow uphill, in order to deliver it wherever it’s needed, if the delivery system is sufficiently pressurized. As long as the proper pressure is maintained in a potable water system, turning on your tap will deliver fresh, safe water to you; but a loss of pressure, or a reverse pressure created by an improper connection, can create problems by moving the water in the wrong direction, a condition called backflow. The two types of backflow a pressure problem causes are backsiphonage and backpressure.