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Old 03-31-2012, 04:08 PM   #61
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The mystery continues. I ran the sprinklers by zone and found one busted head that was in freeflow. Even so, a 5 minute sprinkler cycle was still only using ~100 gallons. I fixed the head.

I'm continuing to check the meter every couple of days. We're averaging between 50 and 100 gallons per day depending on the dishwasher and laundry. Figure an extra 100 gal once or twice a week for the sprinklers. There's still no way I can get to 21,000 gal in 30 days. I would suspect that the sprinkler controller is malfunctioning and running the sprinklers more than programmed but the ground would be really soggy if that were the case.

So...I still don't know. Maybe a billing error? I will just have to keep watching the meter and see how the next bill compares to my observations.
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Old 03-31-2012, 04:56 PM   #62
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If you suspect the sprinkler controller of malfunctioning, why don't you just unplug the controller to completely remove it from the situation, or at least put some cans in the yard so you can measure the amount of water coming from the sprinklers?

I suppose you have already checked that the reading on your bill matches the meter.
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:02 PM   #63
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Do you have a kitty that creates his/her own entertainment?

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Old 04-01-2012, 07:43 PM   #64
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Got my water bill yesterday: 4,000 gallons for the past 2 months. It probably would've been lower, but my daughter came home for a week of spring break.
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:21 PM   #65
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Got my water bill yesterday: 4,000 gallons for the past 2 months. It probably would've been lower, but my daughter came home for a week of spring break.
That's close to my average, 1800 gallons per month
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:14 PM   #66
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Do you have a kitty that creates his/her own entertainment?


That is SO FUNNY.... my cat will also look at the water if you flush... once I was standing doing my business and looked down and saw the cat poke its head between my legs to watch... so far, she has not figured out how to flush by herself...

She also will jump in the kitchen sink when the water is going down... she likes the swirl... then licks the sink....
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:15 AM   #67
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Billing problems do happen. Here's a CNN article about problems with electronically read meters in Atlanta and it mentions other cities. Skyrocketing water bills mystify, anger residents - CNN.com In Atlanta, when water meters were replaced with "new and improved" electronically read meters people had $40 water bills shoot up into the thousands of dollars. Then, in response to complaints and TV news questions, the head of the city's water department had the audacity to go on camera and claim that there was no problem, it was just that the new water meters were more accurate than the old ones. He eventually left that job. Fortunately, I live in a suburban county that wasn't affected by the mess.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:34 AM   #68
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Billing problems do happen. Here's a CNN article about problems with electronically read meters in Atlanta and it mentions other cities. Skyrocketing water bills mystify, anger residents - CNN.com In Atlanta, when water meters were replaced with "new and improved" electronically read meters people had $40 water bills shoot up into the thousands of dollars. Then, in response to complaints and TV news questions, the head of the city's water department had the audacity to go on camera and claim that there was no problem, it was just that the new water meters were more accurate than the old ones. He eventually left that job. Fortunately, I live in a suburban county that wasn't affected by the mess.
What a mess! In New Orleans, we had a different type of problem. After Katrina there were massive failure points in the water pipes, I guess due to the weight of the flood waters and shifting of soil plus very, very aged and poorly maintained water lines in the older historic neighborhoods to begin with. Many, many people had water bills in the tens of thousands of dollars or more. Often the massive pipe breakage was not even on the individual's property, so probably not even detected at the meter (if the meter was still in place), but the city charged them for the lost water anyway. This was the topic of many consumer advocate reports on the evening news.

I think the problem persists to this day for some homeowners living in certain badly damaged older, historic neighborhoods of New Orleans.
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:19 PM   #69
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What a mess! In New Orleans, we had a different type of problem. After Katrina there were massive failure points in the water pipes, I guess due to the weight of the flood waters and shifting of soil plus very, very aged and poorly maintained water lines in the older historic neighborhoods to begin with. Many, many people had water bills in the tens of thousands of dollars or more. Often the massive pipe breakage was not even on the individual's property, so probably not even detected at the meter (if the meter was still in place), but the city charged them for the lost water anyway. This was the topic of many consumer advocate reports on the evening news.

I think the problem persists to this day for some homeowners living in certain badly damaged older, historic neighborhoods of New Orleans.

I would not pay a water bill for broken pipes etc. that were not on my side of the meter...

But who knows what kind of laws are in NO...
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:49 PM   #70
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I would not pay a water bill for broken pipes etc. that were not on my side of the meter...

But who knows what kind of laws are in NO...
Often people did not know why their bills were high, though (like soupcxan) they knew they were not using that much water. The consumer advocates from the evening news were able to make some headway for some. What should be, and what is, often are not entirely identical after a catastrophe.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:43 PM   #71
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Update: between 5PM Sunday and 5PM Monday, my water meter jumped 1,700 gallons. We took a couple showers and used the toilets but nothing else. Where did all that water go That's like 500 toilet flushes! The grass is dry, and the leak indicator on the meter isn't moving right now.

How do I figure this out?
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:48 PM   #72
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I would be calling my water utility and ask for a new meter. 1700 gallons makes a pretty big "wet spot" if it actually happened.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:56 PM   #73
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Yeah I'll call them tomorrow but I don't expect much more than "oh yeah it's fine, we checked it real good". Not sure how I am going to prove this, especially if it's intermittent like this.
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:41 PM   #74
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Any of your neighbors you can poll for water usage? I would think the observation you have done might convince the utility to at least humor you some. Imagine 31 - 55gallon drums in a row outside your door; that's not trivial in 24hrs.

That much water would supply my wife & I for 2 weeks at our usage rate.
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:57 PM   #75
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How do I figure this out?
I would shut off/disconnect the sprinkler system to rule this out completely.
Add leak detector dye to your toilet tanks or food coloring dye to rule these out. Unless you're taking 2 hour long showers multiple times a day, if all else fails, I would think your water utility would allow a meter change if you mention this and press hard enough.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:20 PM   #76
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Yeah I'll call them tomorrow but I don't expect much more than "oh yeah it's fine, we checked it real good". Not sure how I am going to prove this, especially if it's intermittent like this.
Might not be the meter. 1,700 G in 24 hours is just 1.2 GPM, like a faucet. Or 2.4GPM for 12 hours, 4.8 for 6 hours.... something (like that sprinkler) sure could be leaking that much and maybe flows into the ground where you can't see it? Water softener - in flush mode they are ~ 4GPM for some time (maybe stuck), and it all goes down the drain, you would not see a leak?

I think you should do some more Sherlock Holmes work before accusing the meter. Hard to imagine how a mechanical device like that could appear to be working fine for a week, and then just jump up, and do it by about the same amount every month?

In fact, I'll bet right now it is not the meter.

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Old 04-02-2012, 09:36 PM   #77
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If it is the meter, then it sounds like it is off by a significant percentage of the real useage. I wonder if there's not some easy way to see if actual flow matches measured flow. If you had an empty 55 gal drum laying about you could check the meter's reading against multiple fill-ups in quick succession. I'd be sure to turn the water on and off many times during the process (e.g. in case the error is caused by meter overrun at the start/stop of the normal use pattern). I think the meter's an unlikely culprit, but any simple, hard evidence like this would be hard for the utility to dispute ("Everything in the house is off. The little triangle on your meter isn't moving. I filled the 55 gallon drum 3 times in 20 minutes. The meter says I used 250 gallons of water. Tell me how that math works.")

If it were 1.2 GPM being lost through a leaky toilet or two, you'd notice that. And if there were a leak of 1.2 GPM downstream of the meter anywhere, the little triangle should be spinning (that can be tested--crack a faucet to flow at that rate and check the triangle on the meter for movement.)
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:48 PM   #78
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Did a close neighbor water their lawn Monday?
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:11 AM   #79
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Did a close neighbor water their lawn Monday?

LOL... that is what I was thinking....
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:33 PM   #80
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Did a close neighbor water their lawn Monday?
I have no idea because no one is home during the day. But given how small our lots are, if any one of us used 1700 gallons on their own lawn, it would turn to mud & there would be runoff everywhere the next day...

I called the utility and they said they'll send someone out, but either didn't believe me or didn't care that the meter showed 1700 gallons used in one day...
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