Meter boxes perform an important job keeping your gas or electric meter protected and prolonging its life. And they should do this while allowing you to access your meter with no hassle whenever you need.
Sometimes this isn’t the case. Sometimes the door on your gas or electric meter overbox can get jammed, the latch can break – the key for your meter box can even get lost completely. When these things happen, reading your meter can become a hassle and your meter box is no longer performing its job.
This might make you think you need to replace your whole meter box, but that is rarely the case. You can repair your meter box in a variety of ways, buy replacement parts and prolong its life for many more years.
But to do this, you often need to overcome the immediate hurdle of accessing your meter box in the meantime. In this post, we’ll look at tips to help you access your meter cabinet when that job is suddenly more complicated – covering how to open your meter box when the latch is broken, when you’ve lost your key and starting with how to source a new meter box key when necessary.
Can I get a replacement key for my meter box?
The first thing you need to know before you try to open the lock on your meter box without a key is that a services cabinet key is actually cheap and easy to replace. Depending on your needs, a replacement plastic meter box key is incredibly cheap, lightweight and waterproof while a metal meter box key may cost more but is incredibly durable.
Are meter keys a standard shape?
In the UK, the majority of boxes use a triangular key. This is because meter boxes are designed to protect your gas and electric meter against the weather and accidental damage in most cases. It also allows utility company meter readers to access multiple meter boxes easily and quickly.
Before ordering your replacement key, you should check the shape at the centre of the lock just to be sure, but as long as you get a key that matches the shape you see it should fit. On the rare occasion, you need a meter box key that is not a standard triangle shape, you can also get multi-function keys with a range of key shapes to use instead.
What size is a meter box key?
As with the shape, most meter box latches have a standard size of 9x9x9mm. So while the outer shape or size of the key may vary, the socket of the key itself will likely be 9mm.
If you are looking to make your key easier to find, plastic keys are often larger and more difficult to misplace. In turn, a smaller metal key might be more convenient to store as well as being more durable in the long run.
Can a meter key break?
It is possible for plastic meter keys to wear out over time and eventually break, however if they are used and stored correctly this shouldn’t happen for a very long time. If you are concerned about breakages though, a metal meter box key is incredibly durable so you won’t need to worry about accidental damage or breakages.
How to open a meter box without a key
Wherever possible, it’s best to source a replacement key to use to open your meter box. Opening your meter box without a key can damage the latch spindle, the door hinges or even split the door. As replacement keys are so easy to use, it is preferable to get one and use that to open your box. Forcing the door open should be avoided wherever possible.
However, meter boxes are built for ease of use so if you need to open the door without a key it is possible using a pair of long-nose pliers. Insert them into the lock and gently grip the centre of the latch. Make sure to work carefully and turn the lock slowly – if you damage the door it will cost a lot more to replace than a key or latch.
How to access an electric or gas meter box with a broken latch
In particularly old or weathered meter boxes, sometimes the lock can fail completely and the centre spindle falls out. While this is a great reason to remember to check your meter box regularly, you often notice this issue too late.
Much like meter box keys, the latch mechanisms are almost universal as well as being quick, cheap and easy to replace. If the latch on your meter box door is broken, you can buy a replacement latch and follow our easy-to-understand guide to fit your new meter box latch.
Need a replacement meter box key?
Here at Repair My Meter Box we have all the parts you need to get your meter box repaired, whatever issue its facing. From repair kits and spare keys, right through to meter box doors and new overboxes, we have everything you need to get your meter box back to its best.