"Ghetto" Water Meter Key





Introduction: "Ghetto" Water Meter Key

This is a common water meter as found in the USA. Notice the white arrow. Just above it is the shut off valve. The photo is from Google Images. My meter is in a much deeper hole and the valve is much more difficult to reach for those times when I need to do a plumbing repair in the house and need the water to be "off." This Instructable will describe the water meter key I made from scraps welded together.

Step 1: What You Can Buy

This is a commercially available water meter key. They are not very expensive, but I have a welder and had some suitable scraps materials on hand.

Step 2: The Working End of the Key

The end of a commercial meter key is a "U" shaped piece welded onto a long rod. This photo from Google Images shows a commercially produced key on the shut off valve. Most commercial keys are painted black.

Step 3: My Finished Meter Key From Scraps

This is my finished key that I made from six short sections of various kinds of tubing plus the piece for the handle. The door knob gives you and idea of its length. Because our meter is deeper than usual, I needed a longer key than is usually found in the local hardware store.

A note on use of the water meter key: In our part of Idaho we have little rainfall. Our water for irrigating our lawns comes through a system of underground piping about 10 inches in diameter. It is fed by water in reservoirs from spring snow melt in the mountains. Once a week we open the valves in the backyard and flood the entire lawn with about 3 inches of water. The meter box fills with irrigation water and the shut off valve silts over so that it is not visible. My longer meter key is handy for poking around to find the shut off valve in the muddy silt.

Step 4: Making a Straight Shank

The shank or shaft of my key is made of some square tubing and some round pipe. My favorite method for welding such pieces so the end product is straight involves a piece of aluminum angle someone gave me. Its valley holds pieces in alignment until I can tack weld them in place. Also, if I accidentally touch the aluminum with the electrode, nothing sticks to it.

Step 5: The Handle

It would have been good to have the handle just a little longer, but this is the piece of scrap I had available, and it works well enough. Some of the scrap pipe sections had been used to practice welding beads.

Step 6: The Working End of the Key

To make the key end I attached a 10 inch abrasive cutting wheel to an arbor and manually worked the end of a 1 inch piece of pipe against the edge of the wheel until I had a slot that would fit over the shut off valve in our water box. That would have been sufficient, but I wanted to add a little leverage and make the key easier to align on the shut off valve. So, I welded two small pieces of strap iron onto the end of the pipe.

I have not needed this water meter key often, but it works very well. And, I used up some scraps I had without a penny out of my pocket (other than for welding electrodes).



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    I am going to shut off the meter in the ground, but the wire on the meter inside has been cut so it would not be able to be read, it's been like this for at least 3 years without detection, now they want to read it. I want to repair the cut wire can it be done?

    I need to repair the wire on the water meter used to read the amount of water usage it was tampered with after the water was turned off and they placed gravel in the outside ground meter because of tampering

    If the "water company" is a city or other government department, then don't fool around with them, they can make your life miserable...up to and including condemning your home and literally forcing you to move out. This might happen even if the water is supplied by a private company. Basically a building with no water service is considered unfit for habitation because you can't flush the toilets, wash, cook, etc. and may also run afoul of fire codes.

    If you need financial assistance to pay your bill, it may be available, depending on where you live.

    Hi I need help I have been back and forth with the water company they turned off my water 4mths ago. Im on disability and have children just had surgery and they won't turn it on what can I do

    First, I would post your request for information in the Community section here at Instructables. Chances are more people will see it. Perhaps some will have some knowledge of how to proceed.
    Second, the water utility where I live has an appeal process for those who are unable to pay their water bill.
    Third, I would do some phoning to see what social service agencies are available in my area to help in any way. In some US cities there is an organization called Love, INC (In the Name of Christ) which helps people get on their feet. There are likely other similar organizations in other cities. Even if one organization cannot help, that one may know of another local organization that can.
    Fourth, if you are involved with a local church, it may be able to help. Many churches have some funds set aside for needs such as yours. But, churches also get many, many requests for assistance and their budgets are often very, very tight to the extent that they have difficulty paying their own bills. Even if you are not involved with a local church, there may be a local church that can and will help you.
    I hope this helps.

    damn, I was looking for the pentacle key, 5/8"....going to make my own from the Orbit curb key 60", and weld to the clay mold of the male I found on a sewer manhole cover. With the big freeze going on, I am pulling out all stops to dig down 6 ft while the ground is not frozen, but waiting on the city utilities is no longer an option. At least the water leaking is not recorded by the city's meter...

    What if the city turned off my water and yet the meter is still running. If there is no water coming into my house how could the meter still be running?

    I do not know. I think I would be asking the city water department.

    I cut a slot in a pipe cap to make mine.

    Excellent idea!