Tamper Evident Seals for Water and Gas Meters
Posted by Steve Diebold
Gas and water meters vary considerably in how they might be sealed for tamper detection because they vary BROADLY by type and method of installation. Unlike electric meters there has been less standardization for metering in these utility sectors.
Losses due to unmetered water and/or meter tampering have grown significantly in the last decade since water rates have steadily risen.
Standards for water meters in North America are set by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). However, the modes of reading and differing conditions including climate and topography as well as user type make it necessary to install diverse metering systems. These meters or their readers could be found underground, inside buildings and basements, or on the outside walls of buildings. They are installed on both public property and private property. The location and type is sometimes depends on local construction, population density and the age of existing infrastructure.
Types of meters vary from mechanical analog readers to electronic wired remote readers, to ultrasonic and wireless AMI systems that are transmitting data by several methods. The original mechanical water meter underground near the street is still the most common systems used. But changes in designs and sophistication of meters have made tamper sealing needs differ from place to place. In some cases seals cannot be used. In many cases they are essential.
AC&M manufacturers a broad range of seals to fit these variations. Wire seals and plastic pull up seals are most employed. But some water systems need to be sealed at some other point such as the gate or supply valve. This adds to the need for a variety of sealing options. We have a lot of options that meet needs.
Meters for natural gas have their own challenges in sealing from tampering. And the importance of safety measures in the presence of gas is a key factor in the complexity of sealing options available to gas suppliers. Like water meters they are installed both inside and outside of buildings. Though now nearly all gas metering is done outside.
Much of the gas theft is done so by simply opening a valve that should be closed, because the user’s bill is unpaid, or the service was never turned on. Those who deliberately tamper with a gas meter pose a danger to all. Gas companies must consider the potential for damage to the equipment that might cause a leak, and potentially then serious harm to both people and property. Safety is crucial in the gas industry.
There are numerous ways to seal a gas meter. It is possible to seal one of the mounting screws on the meter housing with a Cup Seal which would help to detect any opening of the meter body or face. The valve can be sealed with a wire or plastic seal. But for safety most utilities refer no metal be used and prefer to install a plastic band seal on the valve.
High strength seals are rarely used on gas meters because unauthorized attempts to break them open could result in damage to the meter or line and dangerous leaks.
It is also possible to use tamper evident adhesive labels to protect gas meters, but the life span of that type of seal requires more frequent replacement. It is an option that has been used in some instances.
AC&M CAN ASSIST
To ask questions, discuss options or get recommendations you can reach a security seals expert at our worldwide headquarters during business hours in the Eastern US time zone by phone or chat. We also have a request and question page on our web site, or you may contact one of our other offices shown on our contact page if you are outside the US.
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