Help, I think my traditional meter's faulty: Your guide to what could go wrong with your meter and how to get it fixed!

Help, I think my traditional meter's faulty: Your guide to what could go wrong with your meter and how to get it fixed!
Userlevel 6

Updated on 16/08/21 by Jess_OVO


Some traditional meters are getting pretty antique and like all older machine reaching the end of their useful life (RIP meters!). This topic will cover some faulty meter scenarios, how to go about getting them fixed and how we make sure you’re still charged the right amount for your usage once the repairs are done.


Meter Not Clocking


Pretty fundamental this one! If you’ve taken a reading that hasn’t changed since you last read the meter chances are your meter’s stopped clocking. Like a stopped clock this means the meter will no longer be accurate in marking the passing of time, or more importantly, the energy you’ve been using. In this case we’d need to arrange a meter replacement - contact our Support Team to arrange this.


If you’ve we have a lot of previous readings taken from the meter we should be able to work out what the meter should have clocked during this time - if not we can work this out using the readings we get from the replacement meter. As you’ll be upgraded to a smart meter as a replacement, we should have plenty of readings sent automatically to help us figure this out.


Blank Display


Some traditional meters will have an LCD screen which can experience battery failure making the meter unreadable. Other issues, such as condensation under the screen, make taking a reading impossible. As traditional meters have no other way of sending us the reading, this means we’ll have to estimate your usage until we get this one sorted,


Our Support Team can arrange a free faulty meter replacement - hopefully the engineer will still be able to take a closing reading from the meter, however if not we can recalculate this in the same way we would for a stopped meter.

Leaking electricity meter


It’s extremely rare, but sometimes electricity meters can leak. If there's a hot substance like black tar leaking in or around your electricity meter, and it has a strange smell, you need to phone your District Network Operator (DNO) straight away on 105.

Your DNO owns the cables which run up to your meter where this issue normally occurs, so they'll be responsible for any issues with this part of your set-up. If your DNO recommends a meter replacement as a result of this leak - contact our Support Team to arrange a visit from one of our engineers.


Clocking too fast


Very occasionally older meters can speed up or slow down, meaning they’ll no longer be giving a true reflection of what you've used. If you notice a change to your usage patterns check out this guide for how to determine whether it’s the meter which is causing this.


Another fault?


We’ve got another guide to faults which affect both traditional and smart meters here.



Hope this has helped identify the issue you’ve noticed - got any more suspected meter faults we might have missed? Comment below, we’re always happy to help diagnose a meter issue. :slight_smile:


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10 replies

Hi @Amy_OVO

This is a very interesting post and I have a few questions. I am also copying in @Transparent who probably knows the answers to some of my questions.

Do you have any information on how many meters fail in these ways?

What is the lifetime of a meter? For those of us who are not keen on smart meters what options are available should a meter need replacing?

If a meter does need to be replaced and where a customer does not want a smart meter can a smart meter be installed in dumb mode i.e. with its communications disabled? or with its aerial disconnected. What is Ovo's policy on this?
Userlevel 7
Badge +5

I don't know the failure stats @Phil_H because I don't work in the energy sector.

Down 'ere in deepest, darkest Westcountry, we have functional electricity meters that probably date back 50 years or so. These are typically in old farm houses and out-buildings.

This is unsurprising, the charm of the Westcountry as a tourist destination is being able to step back in time 50 years. So in their setting, these meters are still relatively modern!

The black stuff that oozes from around meters could be a number of substances. I've seen mains-incomers mechanically fixed to the service-fuse block with a fabric tape impregnated with a black adhesive that doesn't quite set solid. It has amazing holding power, and yet remains flexible enough to resist movement on the cable.

There are also some meter connections which appear to have been sealed with molten pitch rather than using the metal seals which are currently employed.

Pitch is a naturally-occurring substance widely found near coal/oil fields. Centuries ago, it could be picked up from the surface of the ground where it had risen up from the deposits below. It has been used for at least 4500 years and has excellent properties for resisting the passage of moisture and radioactivity emissions.

If an electrical connection surrounded with pitch were to start breaking down, the increased resistance would cause a rise in temperature sufficient to melt the pitch and create the black ooze which @Amy_OVO refers to above.


Later Update Aug’20:

If you see unusual substances around your Mains Fuses Board or detect hot/burning smells, have a look at the Topic on Your Guide to Cut-outs Meters and Fuses. There are links to illustrated documents which will help you to report such issues to those who have responsibility to resolve this for you.

Userlevel 6
I'll jump in here, @Phil_H.

Depending on the meter model they usually last 20-30 years, smart meters last a little less due to the extra features.

When traditional meters become extinct you would have to have a smart meter installed, but as you suggested it can be installed in dumb mode.:)
Dial meter here just replaced by shiny new smart meter. The last time it had been calibrated / checked was 1991, I recon it must’ve been 40+ years old easily, and that’s in the middle of a town in the SE!
When I press either button A or B , I get a high pitched sound. The meter was fitted about five years ago , before I switched from British Gas to OVO.
Userlevel 6
hey @BillSpen, the above thread will help you with the next steps.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5
Hi @BillSpen. I think we need a bit more to go on than that!

Please assume that we know nothing about the meter you're referring to.

Is it gas or electric?

Is it digital or does it have dials?

Is it a Smart Meter which sends usage data to OVO automatically?

What Manufacturer name and model number are on the meter?

Why are you pressing either button A or B?

Is this due to a fault or because it's something you've been asked to do?
My query has been copied in without the heading ,which was :

"My smart gas meter has a blank reading. "

It is the gas meter. It is digital.

It is a smart meter but does not send the data automatically to OVO as it was fitted by BG.

Model is Landis+Gyr G370

The instructions to read the meter :

  1. The screen will probably be off. Press the red button to wake it up.
  2. Once it says Credit On you can press the red button again.
  3. The screen will say Meter Index. That's your meter reading.

The red button is A. When I press it the screen lights up but is blank. It has been fine for the last two years.
Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Thanks @BillSpen - that's the level of detail I was hoping for.

(Note to @Amy_OVO .Please can you insert the original Topic Title if you move it into another existing Topic where the Title is substantially different?! Thanks).

OK, so this is a SMETS1 meter.

It contains a Lithium Ion battery, but we know that's ok because the screen backlight wakes up when you press a button.

So the most likely fault is that the data lines connecting to the LCD display have gone kaput. This means that the meter needs replacing.

You will need to leave it up to OVO as to whether they also move you onto SMETS2 metering at the same time. It isn't automatic, and there are persuasive technical reasons why they may prefer to fit another SMETS1 gas meter at this stage. It will in any case be upgraded to SMETS2 functionality in about 6 months time when it receives a software download.

I suggest you contact the team on FacebookTwitter and our Help centre has online chat, and tell them the situation. It can't be left because they have no other way to correctly invoice you.

You can direct them to read what I've written here if it helps.

Thanks very much.