Author Topic: Urgent help - Water usage  (Read 890 times)

FB2020

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Urgent help - Water usage
« on: September 29, 2018, 10:05:17 AM »
So I received the quarterly water bill yesterday and it was around $700. Typically I get around 150-200 per quarter bill, for many years.

I checked and the meter reading was correct, so its not a reading error by the water company guy.

Since yesterday I've been checking the meter and it does appear to be running fast. Since yesterday, it has increased 10 units (1 unit = 100 CF = 748 gallons). My normal usage is 15 units PER MONTH.

I checked everywhere, there doesn't seem to be any leaks - kitchen / toilets / water heater / laundry etc..
I turned off the main valve, and the meter stopped running.

I am in a townhouse, so no backyard / sprinkler or any other stuff. 1 kitchen / 3 baths /1 laundry is  all.

I know there could be leak in the underlying pipes, but its a 20 year old house, so fairly new.

Is it possible that meter is faulty? Its running faster than normal? Any ideas would be helpful..
Called a few plumbers, but so far no one said they do leak detection - that seems to be specialty not easily found.

Water company opens Monday, so I cannot call them now for a non-emergency situation.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2018, 10:39:08 AM »
Does your house have a crawl space?  If so, check there, you might have a swimming pool... that happened to my uncle once.  The good news is that often water providers have a "once in a lifetime" water bill forgiveness program for major leaks like this.  Bad news is that you most likely have a massive amount of water leaking somewhere...

AnswerIs42

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2018, 11:04:01 AM »
That sounds like a huge amount of water. I've had leaks in the past - if your meter is anything like mine, you'll be able to see it going round if water is being used (the bit in the middle spins on mine). So turn off all your taps and watch the meter to see if it is spinning.

If your meter also has tenths and hundredths of a unit, make nobody uses any water for an hour, and check your meter before and after, this should tell you how much is leaking.

Also, look for damp spots on your lawn.

When it happened to me, I ended up turning the water off at the meter overnight and when I went to work. Overkill perhaps, but it saved a lot of water (like v8rx7guy says, I did get the money refunded eventually, although I'm in the UK).

Dave1442397

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2018, 12:46:56 PM »
Hmm, townhouse. Do your neighbors have a pool? Or a hose hooked up to your outside faucet?

It can happen :) A friend had a neighbor fill a pool with their water while they were away on vacation. Dumb neighbors, because it didn't take the water company too long to figure it out.

FB2020

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2018, 01:29:49 PM »
Thanks for the responses. Actually I was reading the meter wrong, and turns out that its not 10 units used in a day, it was actually 1/10 units..
Which is a sigh of relief for me, thankfully. So looks like the rate is going as usual for now.

But I am still very perplexed as to why did the bill shoot up 4X times normal for the last quarter.
I am 100% sure there wasn't anything unusual we did, no guests etc.

And no - nobody around has a pool / car wash anything.


BudgetSlasher

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2018, 02:41:17 PM »
If your meter is in the yard you could have a leak after the meter, but before the pipe enters the house.

If you have a shut off valve as soon as the water enters the house, shut it off tonight before you got to bed and check the meter before you got to bed and after you get up. If it is still spinning there is likely a leak between your meter and the house. Although a faulty meter could still be at play. If you buy a "curb key" you should be able to shut the water off at the meter. If it still spins then I would say a faulty meter is more likely.


pecunia

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2018, 04:17:00 PM »
Call the water people.  They are human too.  Mistakes can happen.  Double check the math on the usage.  Verify the bill is correct.

Radagast

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2018, 07:50:25 PM »
Call the water people.  They are human too.  Mistakes can happen.  Double check the math on the usage.  Verify the bill is correct.
Definitely this. Does your meter have what might be a transmitter on it? If not then somebody needs to walk over and read it, write it down, communicate it, etc. Even if there is a transmitter there are a whole bunch of ways the data could get messed up. City water billing is strange. Every place has its own way of doing things using various technologies and methods invented over the last 100 years and can be very defensive of whatever they use regardless of how dumb it is.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2018, 08:27:00 PM »
Shut off all your faucets in the house.  Verify they are off.  Check the meter.  If it's turning, you have a leak between the street valve and the house.  If not, something else is going on.  Log your usage every day for a week or two. 

Papa bear

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2018, 06:57:51 AM »
Check your toilets again. Put some food coloring in the tank, let it sit for an hour, and check for color in the bowl.  Sometimes it is hard to see a toilet leaking water slowly, and this give you a visual.




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pecunia

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2018, 07:32:16 AM »
Check your toilets again. Put some food coloring in the tank, let it sit for an hour, and check for color in the bowl.  Sometimes it is hard to see a toilet leaking water slowly, and this give you a visual.




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Is it possible for a slow toilet leak to give a $700 dollar water bill?  Has a health care company bought the local water company?  That bill seems enormous.

Papa bear

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2018, 04:27:03 PM »
Check your toilets again. Put some food coloring in the tank, let it sit for an hour, and check for color in the bowl.  Sometimes it is hard to see a toilet leaking water slowly, and this give you a visual.




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Is it possible for a slow toilet leak to give a $700 dollar water bill?  Has a health care company bought the local water company?  That bill seems enormous.
Yes. I had a tenant with a toilet that ran for a quarter and he ended up with 750+ he was prompt to tell me of other problems following that


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FB2020

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2018, 08:10:57 PM »
Thanks for all responses. I have done / checked pretty much all of these now.

Tomorrow cust service will be open and I will be calling them to discuss this. Hoping they can give me a one time credit.

Will post back..

FB2020

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2018, 04:34:33 PM »
Ok, so I called the water guys and explained, pleaded etc. etc.
They said the meter is correct, and they have checked the meter again just last week. and all readings taken were actuals, so there's no mistake.

I asked for a one-time credit as someone mentioned earlier, but nope - the response was "no such thing exists"..

So I gotta pay up and move on!! Will be watching the meter regularly from now on

Thanks for the replies!

sol

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Re: Urgent help - Water usage
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2018, 04:39:42 PM »
I'd call them back and try again.  $700 is worth more than a single half-hearted phone call.

And you still haven't identified the leak, so it's just going to happen again.  Tell them the meter is broken or they have a leak in their system, and then frantically stand over the guy's shoulder when he comes out to inspect it.  Tell them this is many multiples of your water usage and you haven't done anything different, there has to be either a mistake or a leak.

And if all else fails, you can always just refuse to pay them.  In most jurisdictions, they can't legally turn your water off for something like 90 days.  Especially if you children or elderly people living in the house.  Water is a basic human right in this country, and they can't deprive you of it because they screwed up and refused to acknowledge it. 

Your city water department is a workplace like any other.  There are customer service reps, and managers, and department heads, and technical people, and political appointees.  You probably need to elevate your problem beyond the front line customer service rep.