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Hi,

I recently received notice that my water usage was high. A quarterly usage of 127,000 cubic feet!!! My average quarterly usage is roughly 3,000 cubic feet. I asked the water department to come check my meter which is in a 'pit' at the street, several hundred feet from my home. The day they came was one week from the original quarterly reading and I had gone through another 7,000 cubic feet in those 7 days. They suggested I check to be sure my toilets were not leaking. They were not and I don't believe that if they were it would amount to this astronomical number. There were no leaks found in my home. I started checking the meter daily after the town came out and for the past month it appears to be working properly based on my water consumption. I haven't changed anything about my water use and haven't had any repairs done.

For some reason the day the town came out it suddenly started metering properly.

On that day I noticed they also were doing something with the hydrant which is located close to my meter. Could this be some how related? I can't think of anything else that changed that day. I have read a little about air valve problems and meters - also air pressure causing meters to read high.

I am no expert but I know I didn't use the water and my yard isn't full of water - there appear to be no leaks. What could this be??? The town experts in my local water department have only offered the leaky toilet scenario. Any advice is appreciated!

Sherri

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Does your neighbor own a swimming pool?

A few years back, I inspected a vacant (foreclosed) house. The bank had the water turned on for the inspection and left it on afterwards. A few weeks later, I got a call from the frantic real estate agent; the water company had read the meter and found that the house had used thousands of cubic feet since the inspection. We raced out there expecting to find that I had left a shower running or something, but there was no sign of any water use. After a bunch of head scratching, we noticed that the neighbor's pool, which had been drained during the inspection, was now full of water. . .

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My neighbor has an above ground pool. I also have my own in ground swimming pool but my plumbing is not connected to the pool. I use a hose if I need water (which is rare).

The quarter in question is January -March if that helps. All my outside faucets were shut off in the house and the ground would have been frozen.

Thanks

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7,000 CF of water per week comes out to an average of 5.6 gallons per minute. I don't know what a hung up toilet will pass in a minute but 5.6 gallons, although fast, might be possible.

A hung toilet is when the flapper gets hung up on the chain, the tank never fills and the fill valve doesn't stop running.

Marc

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If you have a shutoff valve on the downstream side of your meter (i.e. in the crawl space or basement), close it before you go to work, read the meter, then read the meter again when you get home. If the meter moved, something's up.

It's suspicious that the meter started working right the day the water company came to check. I wonder if they fixed something and didn't tell you.

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I wonder if cyclic expansion and contraction of the air in a water heater expansion tank might be playing a role in this.

Sherri, does your water heater installation have an expansion tank?

Marc

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Greg- thanks for mentioning 'accidental use' policy. I believe there is a town 'leak policy' - it eventually came up in my discussion with the town. I wouldn't have known to inquire about it though. I was told no one ever uses it because you pay 2x what your average water bill is and no one supposedly goes over 2x their bill - My bill is 42x my normal bill!

Marc - I had a toilet leak a year ago and my bill was slightly higher, so both of my toilets were checked and re-fitted etc. at that time - both are working perfect... no leaks there. I will have to look into the expansion tank question, (I don't know what that is exactly). I will get back to this point asap. I think I remember reading something about another person having an issue linked to their tank.

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David - I have a shut off in house. The shut off next to meter is out next to the street in a 'man hole'. I will try shutting off at house and see if meter changes at all. My meter is not easy to access and the hole cover is likely covered with snow and ice in winter which concerns me since I won't be able to monitor my usage in the winter.

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A million gallons in 90 days is 11,111 gallons a day, that's 463 gallons an hours and 7.71 GPM. A leak that size would almost have to be right near a drain to go unnoticed.

Taking Chad's calculations a bit further, that would require the flow to a 1.6 gallon toilet able to refill the whole 1.6 gallons in 12.45 seconds. I guess that is possible, but its about twice as fast as mine refill and would presumably be quite a bit noisier. As you have to believe the OP would have noticed that at some time during the 90 days, I think we can rule out the whole leaky toilet thing.

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I missed the million gallon number.

Nobody misplaces a million gallons of water, except for the Town of Collins Water Dept. Until recently, the tower in my district was manually clocked daily. No one was smart enough to leave a cushion, so the tank overflowed regularly. The consensus is that we overran about a million gallons a month for nearly a year. The tower has automated shutoffs now.

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David - any ideas what the rough cost is to install a water meter at the house?

Marc - I do not have an expansion tank on the hot water heater.

Thanks for everyones input... it remains a $2500 mystery!

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David - any ideas what the rough cost is to install a water meter at the house?

Marc - I do not have an expansion tank on the hot water heater.

Thanks for everyones input... it remains a $2500 mystery!

I would decline payment until they can show you where all that water went.

Ask to see what they did when they were out the last time. I have been there myself, leak at the meter, was told to fix it. Had a valve replaced and with new clamps, still leaking, 2 weeks later the muni people fixed their end. I forget who paid for the missing water but I did not.

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I don't know what it would cost to install a meter... maybe a few hundred dollars?

What are the chances that a water meter registers a large amount of usage that didn't actually occur? Seems like the consensus here is that a million gallons couldn't go missing without some evidence. If it were in the house, you would have heard it running. If it were underground on the downstream side of your meter, the water crew's work would not have fixed it. I think I'd push back on the $2500 bill. In fact, I think your normal daily usage (~250g/day) seems high, unless there are 3-4 occupants in the house. One person... no way.

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David - any ideas what the rough cost is to install a water meter at the house?

Marc - I do not have an expansion tank on the hot water heater.

Thanks for everyones input... it remains a $2500 mystery!

$2,500 is a lot to shell out for a disputed water bill. Buy your own meter and put it in a convenient, easy to install location in the basement or along the perimeter of the crawl. Keep track of the readings to challenge claims by the city.

Private water meter

Marc

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Yes, I think I'm going to have to have my own meter put in. I won't be able to read it in the winter at the street and I don't want to find out at the end of a quarter that its read astronomically high again.

There are 2 adults and two teenagers in the home. We have all water efficient appliances, shower heads and toilets. We are not over consumers of water. I just don't get it! And I must say I'm quite shocked about the lack of concern and lack of effort/interest the town water department has in what the problem is. Time to put a letter together. Not sure if I need to copy any other town officials...

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Sherri,

You said that the water co came out to work on the problem. I think they changed your meter or metering module with in it. Some times when the valve on the city side of the meter does not shut off all the way, they relive the pressure by opening a fire hydrant so that the work can be done "Hot" or with water flowing (This is realy Cold).

Take a picture of the meter now and send it to us. Also read the meter and record the serial number. They do have to record any work the do.

Lee

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