Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 03-23-2012, 09:14 PM   #41
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Nodak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Cavalier
Posts: 2,317
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
I know some places don't always read every meter every month. When this happens, they tend to "estimate" based on past usage habits. It doesn't seem like this would cause such a sudden spike if usage hasn't been unusually high lately, but if they underestimate when they don't read the meter, it could lead to a larger adjustment later when they do read it. Obviously I don't know if this is the case but it is one potential source for "sticker shock" on utility bills.
+1
I rented a house in Minneapolis that had been empty a few months. For the first few months the water bills were what I thought should be normal then suddenly I got one that was about 10 times the previous ones. I contacted the municipal people and found out they had been estimating water usage for almost two years then finally got around to actually reading the meter.
__________________

__________________
"Don't take life so serious, son. It ain't nohow permanent." Pogo Possum (Walt Kelly)
Nodak is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 03-23-2012, 09:26 PM   #42
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: ST LOUIS
Posts: 993
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeAtLast View Post
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.
I have seen this done in the inter city with a garden hose. Run a garden hose from the house with water to the house with no water. I don't know how long it works but it would work unless the hose busted. The hose runs from nip to nip.
__________________

__________________
Proverbs 15:22 Designs are brought to nothing where there is no counsel: but where there are many counsellors, they are established.
rec7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2012, 09:42 PM   #43
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,647
The one and only time this happened to us we had a leaky toilet. The reading was up in the 20,000 range too. The one that was leaking was upstairs and with the children gone, we rarely went up there.

Suggest calling the company that bills you and ask what your usage was last year for the same time frame and to ask what your average use has been the last 6 months...etc.

A leaky toilet can waste a LOT of water. By leaky, I mean "running" continuously.
Hope you find the source!
__________________
sheehs1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2012, 10:46 PM   #44
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 746
Ah, food color in the toilet tank - brings back (un)fond memories. We finally traced a water leak just listening to the shared wall between the bedroom and the bathroom. The sinks, hence water lines, were against the wall. Cut a hole in the sheetrock on the bedroom side and there it was. The slight spewing sound was the clue...

I lived in the MegaCity house for almost 20 years. I had a full house inspection done before I put it up for sale and was told the water pressure was too high - that's why the diaphragms were blowing in the sprinkler system and the weak spot in the copper piping in the wall finally failed.

I'm assuming you've checked for damp spots under all sinks and along baseboards in shared walls between kitchen / bathroom / and other (shared wall) rooms.
__________________
East Texas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2012, 11:40 PM   #45
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Telly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,448
Typical NTX water meter is in a box below grade near the street. Everything after the output of the meter is the customers responsibility, including the connection to the meter output. Sprinkler system tee's into the tubing running up to the house, usually close to the meter. The sprinkler main valve box is usually mounted close to the meter box. The sprinkler main valve box has a double backflow-preventer valve in it, with an isolation shut-off valve ahead and behind it. The output of the sprinkler box is a main pressure pipe that feeds all of the individual sector valves, which are spread out to be near the each sector's sprinkler heads that they feed, for best distribution.

The orange triangle on the meter face is a "tell tale", and is very sensitive. So sensitive that it can spin forwards or backwards some with just pressure surges in the city piping system, without water being used by the house.

With all the rain we had earlier this week, the surface has dried off now. If the area around the meter or sprinkler box is soaking wet, and the rest of the area is not, that may be a leak. But I would sure expect it to show on the meter.

A toilet flapper chain that gets wrapped/bound up can keep the fill valve filling away, but it would take days of running away like that per month to get the ~5-6k gallons per month I would expect with your situation up to the 21k per month.

I do not run our sprinkler system at all in the winter, except in a very dry winter, then I may run it just a few times set manually to run for a cycle.

If a review of last winters bills shows the same usage rate as this past winter, then I think it's time to try the 5 gal. drywall bucket meter test. I would try it anyway.

I am surprised that you have a 1" meter, especially on such a tiny lot. Standard for most houses around here were 5/8" years ago, 3/4" on newer construction. And that is with most every house having a (landscape)sprinkler system. To see a 1" or larger meter would be a big house with a FIRE sprinkler system!
Many cities set their base monthly charge by meter size. Bigger meter, higher base charge, even if you use 0 gallons of water.
__________________
-- Telly, the D-I-Y guy --
Two fools dancing on the hands of time
Telly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2012, 09:46 AM   #46
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,255
I'm on a well so no water meter. I did have a leak a few years back, underground, outside, at the junction of the well and the supply pipe. I didn't know we had a leak until I started getting suspicious about the wet spot there (it was late winter/spring, so that's typical with snow melt and rain), and at the same time, the water pressure was dropping. The leak had got so bad the well pump couldn't keep up. I guess I caught it early enough though, my electric bill was higher that month, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Anyway, this thread inspired me to finally do what I had thought of for a long time - tap off the 220V switched to the well pump, use a high value resistor (~100K) on each leg for safety and to drop the current down to 'sensor' levels. Put a rectifier diode in series with that, then a couple diodes or an LED, paralleled with a bleed-down resistor (~2.2M) and a small cap (0.1uF) to somewhat regulate this to ~ 1.4V. Then, I'll connect an old, cheap analog quartz clock to this (the kind with mechanical hands that run on a AA battery). The clock will then log the hours that the pump has run. Should normally only be around 2 hours a day, probably less, so pretty easy to set to 12:00 and log close to a week w/o resetting. I should actually be able to get a pretty good idea how much water my water softener is using.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2012, 10:17 AM   #47
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I should actually be able to get a pretty good idea how much water my water softener is using.
Wouldn't it be considerably easier to look up the specs of your softener and see what what it tells you about how much water is used when it regens? Mine says 42 gals...
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2012, 10:48 AM   #48
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,255
Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
Wouldn't it be considerably easier to look up the specs of your softener and see what what it tells you about how much water is used when it regens? Mine says 42 gals...
If it is running properly, but if it isn't? Anyway, that would just be a side benefit of being able to monitor how much my pump is running, which is the main goal.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-25-2012, 12:08 PM   #49
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Houston
Posts: 1,435
The utility dept confirmed that my bill was for 21,000 gallons. And that amount is not out of line with previous bills - I just never noticed before because the bill just says "usage: 21" with no units of measure. You would think with all the water restrictions we have had from the drought they would make it obvious how much water you're using! Also the water bill is measured on actual usage, not an average. And frankly even with this much usage the $ impact is still pretty minimal, which is why I ignored it until now. However the sewage charge is based on water usage, so I'm getting charged again there too if my water usage is excessive.

The difference in base cost between a 1" hookup and a 5/8" or 3/4" hookup is only $2/month, so clearly not worth the cost of replacing it. Our house does not have a fire sprinkler system.

The little red triangle on our meter isn't rotating at a perceptible speed, so I don't think there's a chronic leak.

Actual daily usage was 60 gal for the first day, and 220 for the second day (though that included 4 loads of wash). Even if I used 220/day for a month that'd still be less than 8k gallons. The sprinklers haven't run so that must be the culprit. I now suspect we have had an underground leak in the system for quite some time. Sheesh.
__________________
soupcxan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-25-2012, 12:45 PM   #50
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
The little red triangle on our meter isn't rotating at a perceptible speed, so I don't think there's a chronic leak.
I now suspect we have had an underground leak in the system for quite some time. Sheesh.
If you had an underground leak in the system then you'd expect the little red triangle to be moving.

If it only leaked when the sprinklers were running then you'd expect some part of the yard to be really really green. I found a sprinkler leak when one of our papaya trees suddenly went into overdrive.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-25-2012, 02:01 PM   #51
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 746
One summer, when we lived in the MegaCity, the neighbors thanked me for their nice backyard. It seems my yard sloped into to their yard and the water from the broken sprinkler pipe, well, at least someone had the benefit. Evidently the pipe had been broken for about six weeks and only when I was searching for the leak the neighbors said something. The pipes were buried about 18" and that's why the darn leak was so hard to find. The water happily followed the crack in the caliche right over to the neighbor's yard.
__________________
East Texas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-25-2012, 09:49 PM   #52
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,194
Quote:
Originally Posted by East Texas View Post
One summer, when we lived in the MegaCity, the neighbors thanked me for their nice backyard.
Did they wait until the end of summer to thank you?
__________________
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2012, 11:08 PM   #53
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 746
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Did they wait until the end of summer to thank you?
Yeah, right. They were pretty disappointed I fixed the leak. That was the only time their back yard looked half-way decent.
__________________
East Texas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2012, 03:07 PM   #54
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Finance Dave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,046
Nevermind....just read his answer.
__________________
"Live every day as if it were your last, and one day you'll be right" - unknown
Finance Dave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2012, 08:04 PM   #55
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 19,388
Even if you turn a garden faucet to let it run full-blast through 50 ft of garden hose, my guess is that the flow would be only 20 gal/min. Your sprinkler flow rate might be more, depending on the total length from the meter to the point of breakage, and the sprinkler pipe diameter (1" max).

But even if we double it, say 40 gal/min, it is still just 40 gal/min * 1 min/week/circuit * 5 circuits * 4 weeks/month = 800 gal/month.

And then, the above assumes that all 5 sprinkler circuits are broken. That is a slim chance.

This is really mysterious!

Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
Actual daily usage was 60 gal for the first day, and 220 for the second day (though that included 4 loads of wash). Even if I used 220/day for a month that'd still be less than 8k gallons. The sprinklers haven't run so that must be the culprit. I now suspect we have had an underground leak in the system for quite some time. Sheesh.
Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
Our lawn sprinkler system runs for 1 minute per "zone" (which is the lowest time possible) and there are 5 zones. Right now it runs once a week.
__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2012, 08:20 PM   #56
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,194
We are awaiting the moment of truth!
__________________
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2012, 09:48 PM   #57
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Houston
Posts: 1,435
I checked the meter again tonight. Over the last 6 days I've used 800 gal. The sprinklers have been off because we had some rain and I haven't had time to run them while watching the meters. But at this point, it's either that, or the water company is rolling my meter forward several thousand gallons when I'm not looking.

Step 1 is to find the sprinkler valve box...
__________________
soupcxan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2012, 12:14 AM   #58
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 200
Quote:
Originally Posted by East Texas View Post
One summer, when we lived in the MegaCity, the neighbors thanked me for their nice backyard. It seems my yard sloped into to their yard and the water from the broken sprinkler pipe, well, at least someone had the benefit. Evidently the pipe had been broken for about six weeks and only when I was searching for the leak the neighbors said something. The pipes were buried about 18" and that's why the darn leak was so hard to find. The water happily followed the crack in the caliche right over to the neighbor's yard.
That reminds me when we bought a house where the owner had died. The hillside had multiple levels of retaining walls. When we first tested the sprinkler system, we were astonished to find that our sprinkler was covering the next door's garden? We got out the plans we found in the house, and by following the telephone lines, we discovered that the area being watered was all ours! We owned about twice the garden we thought we'd bought!
__________________
PaddyMac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2012, 05:48 AM   #59
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: dubuque
Posts: 618
my boy had a problem similar to this one. oddly enought his water usage went from 10k gallons a month to over 20. It turned out to be a toilet. we shut off the meter when he was gone for a day and showed nothing. checked for leaks in all the fixtures. finally when he shut off the water when he was gone for a few hours and then checked the toilets before he turned the water back on, one of the toilets were dry, tank and bowl. How that happened I can't explain, as we could not hear any leaks or see water running in the bowl. we replaced the toilet and water usage dropped back down. It will be interesting to find out what is causing your problem.
__________________
frank is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-30-2012, 09:50 PM   #60
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 19,388
Talk about toilet tank leaks, I have told this story but it is worthwhile to repeat here. My sister-in-law went away for a month, and came back to her home to find a toilet had been running for nearly a month! The flap somehow did not get seated properly.

There is a new filler valve on the market that will fill the tank only once per flush. How it works is very simple, but ingenious. As the tank gets filled after a flush and the float rises to the top, the latter is latched high and is not allowed to fall again, unless the flush lever is again actuated.

So, if the water leaks away, the next time you flush, you will find the tank empty, and know that there has been a leak.

This obviously will not work if the tank never gets filled in the first place, and the float never rises. This is usually rare, as one would notice that the water was running full-blast forever after a flush. For a slower leak, it works very well.

It is not worth rushing out to replace all your existing toilet fill valves that still work, but if you have to replace a worn-out one, it pays to get this new type.
__________________

__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Nearing the End of a Military Career Parr0thead98 Hi, I am... 129 05-22-2013 06:10 PM
Scoring of "Millionaires Tax" proposal only brings in $47B over 10 years MasterBlaster FIRE Related Public Policy 57 03-25-2012 03:21 PM
Am I overdoing it? 1979dreamer FIRE and Money 37 03-24-2012 08:36 AM
What sort of buffer do you have? RetirementColdHardTruth FIRE and Money 26 03-24-2012 12:02 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:58 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.