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 15/02/21: The guide below is great, AND we’ve made a new guide on meter faults and what to do when you get one. See this here


Analog meters are close to extinction and with this brings the death of some meters (RIP). This topic will cover some scenarios, where a meter is faulty, either fully stopped clocking or is royally on the blink.

Clocking too fast


If you feel you’re using more energy than you expected, It’s possible (but very unlikely) that your meter is clocking your energy use too fast.

It’s very unusual for meters to clock too fast. In fact, over 80% of supposedly faulty meters that are tested are found to be clocking absolutely accurately.
If you’d like us to carry out a Meter Accuracy Test (MAT), we can send an engineer round to do this for you. It will cost £157.00 for a gas meter, and £149.00 for an electricity meter, and we’ll ask you to pay the charge up front.

If a meter accuracy test has determined that a meter is clocking too fast by at least 2.5% or slow by at least 3.5% we will need to complete a faulty meter exchange.

If your meter does turn out to be faulty we’ll refund the cost of the test.

Before you ask us to carry out a MAT, there are a couple of simple tests you can do yourself to see if your meters are overclocking.

Creep test (electricity)

Turn off your power at the fuse box and check if the electricity meter is still clocking consumption. It should have stopped, as no electricity is being used – so if it’s clocking, it probably is faulty. You’d still need to pay upfront for a Meter Accuracy Test to conclusively prove any inaccuracy.


Blank Display or Meter Not Clocking


If you’re due to take a reading and you notice your display has gone blank and cannot be read and it cannot be turned back on by pushing buttons, this would indicate a faulty meter. Another common type of meter fault where the meter will stay on the same reading and not register any usage. This job will not be chargeable to the customer.

The meter would need to be removed (contact our team to arrange this, contact info at the end of this post) the removal reading will be recalculated using either reads prior to the fault, new meter consumption, this would depend on how frequently we had readings prior to the fault being reported.

What to do if your electricity meter is leaking


It’s rare, but sometimes electricity meters can leak. If the leaking substance is hot, looks like black tar and has a strange smell, please contact the local network operator.

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 local network operator straight away on 105.

If the leaking substance is cold and has no smell, call 105 free of charge to report this or contact your local network operator. Your local network operator owns the cables which run up to your meter where this issue normally occurs, even if they don't supply your electricity, so they'll be responsible for any issues with it.

Contact us

You can message the team on FacebookTwitter and our Help centre has online chat!, I’d recommend giving the team a call regarding a faulty meter. You can reach our team on: 0330 303 5063. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday to Friday.


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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.