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Are water meters accurate?


Tom Raymond
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This is about my home, not an inspection. I have municipal water that is billed quarterly. At the start of the most recent quarter, the muni's installed a new meter. The only thing to change in that quarter was the meter and the supposed measured usage. My average consumption for the last two years has been 9600 gallons per quarter, while they claim my consumption for the quarter since the new meter is 24,900 gallons.

I spoke with the head of the water department today, and he insists that the meter was zeroed when it was installed and that the reading is accurate, and that the additional 15,300 gallons must be a leak on my side of the meter or an increase in usage. I argued that I would probably notice a leak approaching 200 gallons per day given my background in construction and my current status as an inspector and that his meter is either defective or was set at something other than zero when installed. Despite ten years of history and a high usage of 12000 gallons, they insist the reading is correct.

My question is, how likely is it that the meter is improperly calibrated?

Or, not properly zeroed when installed?

Thanks for your insight,

Tom

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I've got a question back at you, Tom. I assume that it's not, because you didn't say anything about it, but, With all of the water off in the house, is the meter still spinning away?

Maybe it's not a question of calibration - maybe it's simply a defective meter. With that kind of difference, I should think that you could run 100 gallons through it while measuring it with a flow gauge; and, if the meter is defective, the meter should read about 240 gallons. No?

OT - OF!!!

M.

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I've never looked at a water meter outside Kentucky or Ohio, but every one I've seen around here contains a delta beneath a plastic lens. If water's passing through the meter, the delta spins. If the delta is stationary, no water is flowing and there are no below-grade leaks.

No delta?

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Is it possible your OLD meter was the defective one, and you've actually been using more water than you thought (or they've been billing) all these years?

I don't think so. With a house full of Energy Star appliances (my washing machine consumes 11 gallons per load on it's thirstiest setting) , a low flow showerhead, and newer low volume toilets, I have trouble believing I use the 107 gallons a day my average bill translates to. The new bill reflects more than 170 gallons a day beyond that.

Speaking of toilets, the water dept. monkey suggested that the increased usage was likely due to the tank valve leaking down into the bowl. This infuriated me because to move that volume of water would turn the entire volume of the tank every 20 minutes on my oldest toilet. Like no one would notice that the toilet ran constantly. I dyed the tanks anyway, after 4 hours the bowl water was still clear.

He did come out and take a new reading, and it is far more consistant with my 100 gallon a day norm, leading me to believe that the new meter read 15-18,000 gallons when it was installed and not the 99,990 that he insists it read (10 gallons below zero).

Tom

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Was your new meter set the same day that your old meter was last read at its normal interval? If not the reading would a combined one and a math error might be involved also new meters have several zeroes in front of the metered usage and may have simply been misread. 001700 could be misread as 017000. Locally, most rural domestic water companies extend a one-time grace period, I would try to work that angle even though you are dealing with a municipality.

Is it possible your OLD meter was the defective one, and you've actually been using more water than you thought (or they've been billing) all these years?

I don't think so. With a house full of Energy Star appliances (my washing machine consumes 11 gallons per load on it's thirstiest setting) , a low flow showerhead, and newer low volume toilets, I have trouble believing I use the 107 gallons a day my average bill translates to. The new bill reflects more than 170 gallons a day beyond that.

Speaking of toilets, the water dept. monkey suggested that the increased usage was likely due to the tank valve leaking down into the bowl. This infuriated me because to move that volume of water would turn the entire volume of the tank every 20 minutes on my oldest toilet. Like no one would notice that the toilet ran constantly. I dyed the tanks anyway, after 4 hours the bowl water was still clear.

He did come out and take a new reading, and it is far more consistant with my 100 gallon a day norm, leading me to believe that the new meter read 15-18,000 gallons when it was installed and not the 99,990 that he insists it read (10 gallons below zero).

Tom

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