Water meters and repairs

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How water meters work

Water meters track household water usage and ensure customers are billed accurately. Every household, business and facility located within municipal boundaries and connected to the water distribution system is equipped with a water meter. Water meters are the property of the City of Ottawa and are maintained by the City of Ottawa.

Water meters are typically located in the basement where the water service enters your home or building. All the water that enters the building is measured. The water that passes through the water meter spins a built-in device. Each full spin of the machine measures a specific amount of water, and that amount is instantly shown on the display on top of the water meter in cubic meters (m³). The only way for water to be measured is for it to flow through the water meter, physically spinning the device.

How water meters work

All water meters have a meter reading device attached which communicates your water usage data to the City of Ottawa’s network. These devices are installed on the exterior of your house or building or the garage door frame.

Water meter reading device

How to read your water meter

Taking a meter reading is as easy as reading your car odometer. Your meter will display a six to nine-digit number depending on the model of the meter installed in your home. If your meter is digital, you will need to shine a light on the solar cell for the number to display. Hold the light on the solar cell for a minute until the numbers appear on the screen. The numbers will cycle between total consumption and flow rate. Water consumption is recorded in cubic meters (m³). If you are unable to find your meter, please contact Revenue Services at 613-580-2444 (TTY: 613-580-2401), as we may have the location information on file.

How to read a water meter

Water meter maintenance

The City of Ottawa maintains water meters. Customers will be notified by mail when their meter is malfunctioning and a service appointment is required.  A notice will also appear on their water bill. The most common reason for meter maintenance is a repair to the wire which connects the water meter to the radio transmitter. On rare occasions, the meter may fail and require replacement. Residents may also receive a letter requesting occupancy confirmation should their meter continuously record low or no consumption. 

If the City does not receive a meter reading from your property, your water bill will be based on estimated usage until the meter is repaired. Estimated consumption may increase if your usage cannot be confirmed. 

Please book an appointment for repair as soon as possible to ensure the accuracy of your account.

Water meter FAQs

Why is the City contacting me about my meter?

The city will notify customers by mail when their meter is malfunctioning and a service appointment is required. You may also receive a letter requesting occupancy confirmation should your meter continuously record low or no consumption.

Where is my shut off valve?

The building shut off valve is typically located where the water service enters your home or basement, usually this is in the basement. This valve can be used to shut off all water to your property. In the event this valve is not functioning, you may request the City turn off your water at the street by calling 3-1-1. A Service fee will apply.

Can I have my water meter tested for accuracy?

Water meters either record consumption accurately or start under-registering with age, however if you would like to have your meter tested you can request the water meter be tested for accuracy.  Should the testing prove that the meter is not over-registering, it is your responsibility to pay for the test.

How often are meters replaced?

Residential water meters have a typical lifecycle of 25 years. The City will contact homeowners should their meter require replacement