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Old 03-23-2012, 03:13 PM   #21
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soup.....

Does your bill mention "units of measure" or give a beginning vs ending reading? It seems like if your meter actually was reading in 0.1 gal increments, they'd bill you more exactly than for a nice round "21,000 gals."
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:17 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I bet you are on to something. 0.1 gallon increments seem very fine resolution for something like this.

-ERD50
This is what his meter looks like:



And this page describes how to read this type of meter, and confirms that one revolution of the flow indicator represents 10 gallons:

http://water.cobbcountyga.gov/files/meterhowto.pdf

So, if he saw the dial move from 6.6 to 6.8, that's indeed only .2 gallons.

I'd suggest going out and checking the meter every few hours for a day.

A running toilet can use two gallons per minute, almost 3,000 per day. Are any of your toilets being naughty?
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:17 PM   #23
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I will turn the sprinklers off and start watching the meter every day.
I'd be more inclined to go out and watch the meter while the sprinklers are on for all 5 zones (I assume that'll only take 5 minutes). You might have a broken line in one zone or a main sprinkler feed? 21,000 gallons should be "findable." It would seem it has to be something outside, sprinkler, water softener **, pool makeup? You'd think if anything was leaking (when valved open) inside you'd hear and/or see it.

My Dad's water bill and usage tripled suddenly at his house. Turned out to be when the water softener (outside) ran, it had a massive leak, they had no way to "see" it.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:23 PM   #24
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We use somewhere around 7000 gallons a month for a family of 4 but 2 of those are very young children that bathe or shower together usually. DW tries to offset to the extent possible by taking abnormally long showers.

We do try to conserve water generally speaking (ie we don't waste it), but do at least 5 loads of top loading laundry a week and run the DW every day or two.

21000 gallons seems high but maybe it isn't based on averages your utility provided, and not knowing exactly how much your sprinklers use.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:33 PM   #25
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So, if he saw the dial move from 6.6 to 6.8, that's indeed only .2 gallons.
Looking at that pdf, that does seem to be the case then. As a few of us have said, he's just going to need to log the readings for a while. It sure doesn't look like a steady leak is causing it, so something must be leaking intermittently. Water softener would be a guess, since they run on some sort of timer, and can use water at a high volume in the 'rinse/flush' part of the cycle. A reading before bed and upon waking should track that down.

We love a good mystery, don't we?


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Old 03-23-2012, 03:34 PM   #26
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Nice find T-Al. It looks like soup's meter has a "leak detector" as described in the pdf you posted. The red triangle?
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:36 PM   #27
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Yes, the little red triangle rotates discernibly even with a very low flow of water (that's what it's there for). If you've got all the normal taps and stuff turned off, it shouldn't be turning.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:42 PM   #28
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Not to hijack the thread, but.......

While reading my combined water, sewer and garbage bill looking for hints on how to read the meter, I noticed some info which indicated that seniors over 65 receive a 50% discount on their garbage bill. DW recently turned 65! I'll have her over at town hall first thing Monday morning!

Sure glad I opened this thread. We've lived here for 35 years and I was unaware of that little detail.

Back to the potential water leak problem.......
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:46 PM   #29
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I used about 6000 gallons last period for 2 people. I did not have the sprinklers on. I have them on a separate meter to avoid a sewer charge. I would shut off the sprinklers for a couple of days and check the meter before and after. Also you could watch the sprinklers and see if they are actually on for only 1 minute. I could be a problem with the sprinkler timer.
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Old 03-23-2012, 04:49 PM   #30
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Just curious - what possible use can sprinkling for 1 minute be? Sounds like it would evaporate before any got absorbed.
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:01 PM   #31
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Ask your neighbor to disconnect his hose from your outside faucet ...
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:15 PM   #32
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I also experienced some high water bill caused by:
1. Stuck cycle on the water softener. But this can be heard on the drain pipes.
2. Split hose(s) on the sprinkler. Noticeable only when the sprinkler is on.
3. Leak on toilet valve.
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:51 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
Here is what my water meter looks like, except mine says 1" instead of 5/8" and it's much dirtier:

http://www.mupb.com/images/watermeter.jpg

So on the lower dial, in one hour with no water usage, it moved from 6.6 to 6.8, which I read as 0.2 gallons (I mistakenly said 0.1 gal in my original post). But even a leak of 0.2 gal/hr is only 150 gal in a month. I guess the red triangle rotates if you have a leak, I didn't notice that before.

I called the utility but they couldn't give me any kind of comparison to my neighborhood except to say that "normal" monthly usage is 5k gal per person plus whatever you use on the lawn. Is running the sprinklers for 1 minute per zone per week using 10,000 gallons a month?

I will turn the sprinklers off and start watching the meter every day.
Why is the meter moving with no water usage?
You stated this bill is not out of line with your other bills?
Did the upper dial that looks like an odometer change?
Is the meter located just before the line enters the house, or is it buried for some distance before entering the house?

With that level of resolution, I would get a garden hose with a nozzle on the end and a 5 gal bucket. I'd fill the bucket and watch the meter to compare a known volume of water dispensed vs. the meter measurement.

We dont have a sprinkler system, but our bill states average consumption is 70 gal/day/person. We use around 50/person/day.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:50 PM   #34
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another sneaky water loser: a leaky hot water tank sitting in a drain pan
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:18 PM   #35
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I live in Texas as well, but I have not watered my lawn since October. Why would you need to water your lawn until next month? Turn off your sprinkler system. Do not just put it on 1 minute per zone. When the system is off, the lowest possible time is zero.
Advice was not asked on whether or not to water. The question on the table is
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How on earth do I explain the rest of the usage?
I'm betting on the sprinkler system. Back when I lived in the MegaCity I blew a diaphragm in one of the valves. That turned out to be a watery mess. I learned to check the valves once a week to see if they were leaking.

You could have a broken extension under one of your sprinkler heads. See if any of them wiggle. Walk the sprinkler line (the underground pipe that carries water to the sprinkler heads) and see if there's a mushy area (may require being barefoot). I'd also walk the low points in your yard and ask the neighbors if they've had any unexplained wet spots.

My biggest headache was the sprinkler head that was right in the corner of the driveway and sidewalk. I even put a concrete donut around it so when cars went over it I wouldn't always be the local water company's cash cow. I finally dug down about 8" in the ground and capped that sucker off.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:24 PM   #36
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Just another data point for you: Two people here who are pretty conservative with H2O usage: Our usage from November to February varied from a low of 4700 gallons per month to a high of 5800 gallons per month. About three loads of laundry per week (maybe an average -- Oh! there's that "average" word again), dishwasher about once a week (sink the rest of the time). We do bathe or shower daily or more often.

The other months we use a lot more water because we are watering almost an acre of grass and other vegges and a small (6'x9') pond.

Edit to add: In the summers we can hit 50,000 or 60,000 gallons per month, (note I did not use the "average" word in this sentence) and for various reasons we have been encouraged to conserve, which we have done and intend continue to do going forward.

Edited again to add: I know that sometimes our water usage is estimated (or extrapolated, "hey, whetever") so the numbers might not be completely accurate, but that is what has been on the water bill.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:27 PM   #37
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I watched the meter for an hour last night when no one was in the house and it moved 0.1 gallons in an hour with no water usage. So that leak is only 0.1*24*30 = 72 gallons per month. Neither of us takes baths or uses the tubs (shower only).
Since no one has mentioned this possibility yet, allow me to chime in.

soupcxan, are you sure your water meter reading is gallon based, not cubic meter (ton) based instead? 1 cubic meter water is 1 metric ton, or 1000 liters (that's the beauty of metric system; easy to count, measure and calculate). 1 US gallon is 3.6 liters. So 0.1*24*30 = 72 tons = 72000 liters = 20000 US gallons/month, very close to your 21000 figure for Feb. If this IS the case, then good news stays and bad news refuses to leave. The good news is that you and your DW have been very conscientious in water conservation. The bad news is that there is at lease one leak after your water meter main somewhere on your property, very badly.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:41 PM   #38
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How about previous bills? How much usage do they show? It won't spot where the leaks are, but at least when the large amount of usage started.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:42 PM   #39
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Ask your neighbor to disconnect his hose from your outside faucet ...
This is a possibility. My sister recently had a sewer problem and when they traced the problem the plumber was digging in the middle of the neighbor's yard. Her outgoing sewer line was tied into the neighbbor's line.

Someone clearly took some kind of short cut when the homes were built as my sister had to pay to have her own connection made to city sewer.

I guess the same thing could happen with the water source.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:12 PM   #40
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This thread made me curious, so I went out to look at my meter. On the dial face was a big legend that said "Cubic Foot", and 1 cu.ft. = 7.48 gal.

I turned on the garden hose and watched. The needle appeared to make one revolution per cu.ft. The dial read-out appeared to have the resolution of 1 cu.ft. That's a bit better resolution than T-Al's meter, whose needle revolution is 10 gals.

I went inside to look at my wife's file for utility bills. In July of 2011, we used 23,000 gal. Egads! That of course included the watering to save the plants from the "dry heat". The total bill was $188, and that included sewer and garbage collection. The bill said that a billing unit is 100 cu.ft or 748 gals. That agreed with the meter dial, which shows that first 2 digits as black, and the 3rd and higher digits as white.
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