Frequently asked questions

Last reviewed:

Take a look at our most commonly asked questions about water meters.

Requesting a meter

Yes, you can call us on 0800 980 8800 and we will send you a form to complete - alternately you can fill in our handy form

Our lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm Saturday and closed on Sunday and bank holidays.

Our textphone service for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing is on 0800 316 6899. Please note, voice calls or mobile numbers aren’t accepted via this number.

We'll be in touch

We will contact you within 14 days of receiving your application to arrange a survey at your home. This is to check the most suitable place to fit your meter.

Your survey

Our aim is to fit your meter outside your home, so we can easily read and maintain it without having to disturb you. The survey is to check that this is possible. If it is, we will come back and fit the meter once we have permission from the local highways to work in the pavement or road.

If we can’t fit a meter outside, we will look to see if a meter can be fitted elsewhere, this may be inside your home. In this case, we will either fit a meter during the survey or make an appointment to come back and fit a meter at a convenient time for you.

Fitting your meter

Outside your home:

If we can fit your meter outside, you do not need to be at home when we carry out this work. To fit your meter, we will need to turn your water off for around 20 minutes.

Inside your home:

This will be an arranged appointment with you. We will need to turn your water off for around 20 minutes to fit your meter, so please make sure you don’t have any appliances on that use water during this time.

Once your meter is fitted, we will leave you a leaflet giving you all the information you need about your new meter, including ways to help you save water, energy and money.

Your account will be updated automatically and we will write to you with your new account number when this has been done.

Complexities with plumbing, particularly in flats, may mean it is not always possible to fit a meter. If this is the case for your home, we’ll review your charges to see if there is a better tariff that reflects the amount of water you use. If we find you already pay the lowest tariff for your charges, your account with us will remain unchanged.

You can opt out of being charged on your meter within 12 months of it being fitted, or within one month of your second metered bill (whichever is the later date). We will then change your account back to our unmetered charges from the date you let us know. However, if you move out of your property, the new occupier will be charged using the meter.


Installing your meter

Installation normally takes around 45 minutes and we will need to turn your water off for about 30 minutes.

All surfaces will be left in a safe and level condition. If we fit your meter outside we will try to carry out a permanent repair straightaway. In some cases this is not possible and we will have to do a temporary repair. Where this is the case we will return within six months, once the ground has had time to settle, to complete the permanent repair.

If we need to fit your meter under your drive we will keep any disruption and inconvenience to a minimum. We suggest you advise your neighbours that you are having a meter fitted and that we may need to gain access to your shared driveway for a short amount of time.

Complexities with plumbing installations, particularly in flats, means it’s not always possible to install water meters.

In these cases, to help ensure customers who cannot have a water meter get a water bill that better reflects the amount of water they use, a flat-rate tariff is available called the ‘Assessed Household Charge’.

These charges are based on the average consumption of our metered customers, and reflect the number of bedrooms in a property. There is also a Single Occupier Tariff for customers who live alone.

These tariffs are only available for customers who have applied for a meter but we have confirmed they cannot have one, as it is either not possible to install one or it would be too expensive to fit.

Take a look at how much you will pay on the Assessed Household Charge

We would like all our customers to have a water meter as it is the fairest way to pay, and encourages people not to waste water. We do a thorough survey both inside and outside of your property before confirming if a meter can be installed, so it is unlikely anything more could be done. Although there is no formal appeal process, we can discuss this with you.

Where possible, we will always try to fit a meter. However in some cases this can prove very difficult and costly, for example at homes with separate pipework where we may need to fit more than one meter.

As your water supply pipe (the one running from our water main towards your home) serves one or more neighbouring properties as well as your own, an external meter would record everyone’s collective usage. In these cases we will have to fit a meter inside your home if possible.


Reading your meter

If your meter is outside, you will need to lift open the cover. There should be a small lip on the edge, but you may need a screwdriver to help lift it. Under the cover there should be a foam or polystyrene disc. This protects your meter from frost so please make sure you replace it.

You only need to record the black numbers, which show the amount of water you've used in cubic metres (m³). Depending on the type of meter, it may have four or five of these. Please ignore the red numbers (these record tenths and hundredths of a cubic metre).

We are required to take our own meter readings at each property at least once every two years. You can submit your own meter reading online at any time.

No. It is normal for some groundwater to seep into the box that holds the meter. This won’t affect the meter in any way.

No, we'll take care of everything. Our technician who fits your meter will provide us with the relevant details so we can set up your new metered account. We'll do this within two weeks of your meter being fitted.


Billing and your account

Your bill will quote the serial number of the meter you are being billed for. If you check this number against the serial number on your meter, they will be the same.

You will receive your first bill within the first six months of your meter being fitted. We will then send bills twice a year.

Estimates are based on the average amount of water you use. If you don't have any previous readings we will make an estimate within the range of five to ten cubic metres per month. When we next read your meter, your bill will be adjusted accordingly. If you have received an estimated bill but would prefer an accurate reading, you can submit your meter reading online.

We'll set a payment plan on your new account which will be based on your revised charges. Your existing payment method e.g. Direct Debit, will be transferred across to your new account. The only difference might be the number of instalments you have as metered payment plans run for a 12 month period. If this affects you we will always try to call you first.

You should continue to make your normal payments. Once your meter is fitted we will automatically update your account, and this will reflect any payments you have already made.

Any credit balance will be transferred to your metered account once it is set up. In this case, we will try to contact you when we set up your account. You can choose whether you’d like to offset the credit against your metered charges/payment plan, or whether you’d like the money refunded.

If you have applied for a water meter and for whatever reason we cannot fit one, your new charges will only take effect from the date you applied for a water meter. These tariffs are only available for customers who have applied for a water meter but cannot have one fitted.

    The following factors could explain why your bill is higher than expected:
  • If your previous bill was based on an estimated reading, but the estimate was too low, your current bill may include additional costs from previous bills.
  • Your current bill may cover a longer period of time than your previous bill.
  • Your water use may have gone up as a result of more people moving into your property, or if you have had visitors to stay.
  • You may have a problem with one of your appliances, such as a dripping tap or washing machine flood? A dripping tap can waste as much as 140 litres of water a week.
  • Activities such as building, renovation or decorating could mean you have used more water than normal.
  • If you have used a hosepipe or sprinkler your water use will have shot up. Using a hosepipe for just one hour uses as much water as the average person uses in three days (one day average usage = 155 litres).

If you still think your bill is too high and doesn’t reflect the amount of water you have used, you may have a leaking pipe at your property. We can help you check if you have a leak.

If you decide to change the structure of your property, such as converting it into flats, selling part of it so one property becomes two or using part of the premises for commercial use, you need to let us know before the work starts.

We can then ensure you are being charged correctly and install a water meter or additional meters if required.

If this is the case, please contact our Developer Services team:

Call us

Please call us on 0800 009 3921. Our lines are open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and are closed at weekends and bank holidays.

Email us

Please send your emails to

Write to us

Thames Water

Developer Services

Rose Kiln Court

Rose Kiln Lane



We supply 2.6 billion litres of drinking water to nine million people across London and the Thames Valley every day. Just over a third of this water is pumped from natural reservoirs below ground, and 65 per cent is pumped from rivers.

The more water we use the less water is left in the environment. During long periods of low rainfall when water is in short supply, the low flows left in rivers reduce the available habitat for fish and other wildlife. This can also lead to water restrictions to help ensure there is enough water to go around, like that experienced in spring 2012.


Also in this section

The benefits of having a water meter How can I read my meter? Metered Bill