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Old 04-03-2012, 03:42 PM   #81
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Service people get rather skeptical of claims like that; I am a custom builder, and I can't count the number of times I have had calls during warranty periods that were burnt out lightbulbs, but the inhabitants were vehemently certain there were "shorts" in the electrical system. When the utility guys who show up hear your story, my guess is that they will listen.
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:20 PM   #82
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If you can show your water meter ledger that should give you some credibility.
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:42 AM   #83
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After a few more normal days of <100 gal/day, we had another 24 hour period with 1500 gallons on the meter. No dishwasher, no laundry, no sprinklers. Seems totally random.

Haven't heard from the utility yet.
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:55 AM   #84
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I would take a picture of the meter every day with a camera that shows the date and time, or like my cell phone, creates an image file with the date and time. Documenting huge spikes on certain days might help them believe you.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:35 PM   #85
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After a few more normal days of <100 gal/day, we had another 24 hour period with 1500 gallons on the meter. No dishwasher, no laundry, no sprinklers. Seems totally random.

Haven't heard from the utility yet.
I work for a public utility and I can personally attest to a similar situation to yours. The problem turned out to be a leaking toilet that the customer swore he checked. He did check the toilet but it only leaked on certain days. We are able to see daily usage on our meters and were able to pinpoint that his leak occurred every 2-3 days. The toilet would slowly drain down and after a few days would cause the increase in water usage as it filled back up.

Part of my job is to handle cases like yours so feel free to fire away any questions you may have. I will try my nest to answer them.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:00 PM   #86
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I have to ask how many of the suggestions have been followed up on.

How many of the suggestions have been followed up on?

1) Did you put food coloring in your toilet tanks before leaving for the day? Going to bed at night? You can just leave the lids off, so see where the food coloring went.

2) Did you shut off the water valve going into the sprinkler system? You know, the backflow check, etc?

3) Did you take twice a day photos of your water meter?

4) What else?
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:12 PM   #87
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After a few more normal days of <100 gal/day, we had another 24 hour period with 1500 gallons on the meter. No dishwasher, no laundry, no sprinklers. Seems totally random.

Haven't heard from the utility yet.
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I have to ask how many of the suggestions have been followed up on.

How many of the suggestions have been followed up on?

1) Did you put food coloring in your toilet tanks before leaving for the day? You can just leave the lids off, so see where the food coloring went.

2) Did you shut off the water valve going into the sprinkler system? You know, the backflow check, etc?

3) Did you take twice a day photos of your water meter?

4) What else?
Agreed - the OP seems certain the water meter is defective but I have not seen any real evidence that he ruled out these other things.

'Water Softener' has been mentioned several times, but the OP has never confirmed/denied that he even has a water softener. As has been mentioned, these connect to a drain, you would not 'see' if it was running and draining excess amounts.

It's easy to envision how a water softener with a stuck drain valve or a sprinkler system with a leak could be using excess water when they cycle on. It's a lot tougher to explain how a water meter that seems to work accurately most of the time, suddenly goes wacko, and then returns to normal. Not impossible, but Occam's Razor says....

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Old 04-07-2012, 04:47 PM   #88
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I just checked my water bill from March and DW and I used 2244 gallons. Our neighborhood # was 4489 and the average residential average use was for all was 5237 gallons for the county. DW was out of town for part of that time and I shower at the nearby army base 5 days a week after working out at th gym.

Our house and yard is about the same as OP, but we have done no lawn watering lately. If OP in North TX is using 10X what we in South TX are using, there must be a leak.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:01 PM   #89
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Agreed - the OP seems certain the water meter is defective but I have not seen any real evidence that he ruled out these other things.

'Water Softener' has been mentioned several times, but the OP has never confirmed/denied that he even has a water softener. As has been mentioned, these connect to a drain, you would not 'see' if it was running and draining excess amounts.

It's easy to envision how a water softener with a stuck drain valve or a sprinkler system with a leak could be using excess water when they cycle on. It's a lot tougher to explain how a water meter that seems to work accurately most of the time, suddenly goes wacko, and then returns to normal. Not impossible, but Occam's Razor says....

-ERD50
In our case we are on a well, but use a salt system for water softening. The regeneration process only runs every three days (winter) or every other day (summer when irrigating). That could explain the "random" jumps in usage, especially if there is a problem with the system. I agree, the OP needs to check everything and not just focus on the meter. If I were the water company and was presented with the information we've seen so far, I'd probably not assume it was the meter. As you say, Occam's Razor.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:26 PM   #90
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We don't have a water softener.

I haven't turned off the sprinkler valve. I watched the meter while the sprinklers were running and they used about 150 gal. The sprinklers only run one day per week and the excess usage has happened on days when the sprinklers were not running. If the system is not running, could a sprinkler valve leak 1500 gal one day then be fine for the next four days? Our soil here is like clay (e.g. poor drainage) and our lot is small, so if there was a leak of that size at the valve, I'm pretty sure I would notice a big muddy spot at the leak (the valve box is dry).

I haven't done the toilet test yet but I will. However, the food coloring isn't going to tell me anything until I catch it on a day where the toilet leaks (assuming that's the cause). Why would a toilet only leak every 3 or 4 days? I would also be surprised that I haven't heard the leak when it is happening, I usually can hear toilets when they're running. 1500 gal/day is about 1 gal/min which is a fair amount of water. Also, if a toilet was leaking this much, I ought to see the red leak triangle move on the water meter on the days when its leaking, which I haven't seen yet. But it could be a toilet.

I haven't had time to take pictures of my water meter every 12 hours.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:39 PM   #91
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Maybe soupcxan doesn't even know that he actually has 2 water sprinkler systems and a water softener and a 4th hidden bathroom?

I remember a guy who did not even know that the house he bought had a heated driveway to melt away snow. He just thought that his electric bills were supposed to be that high, until 9 months later when he woke up to new-fallen snow and saw that his driveway was the only one in the neighborhood that was free and clear of snow yet slightly warm and moist.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:58 PM   #92
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Driveway heater! Wow! First time I heard of that. Of course I live in the SW, but still... Only in the USA. Who could have afforded the electric bill for such a thing?

Back on the suspicious water meter, I don't think it would be difficult for the water company to change out the meter to appease a home owner. A few months ago, I happened to be outside when a guy drove up in a truck, hopped out and bent down to do something on my water meter. So, naturally, I had to approach to ask what he was doing. Turned out that he was changing out the meter. He said it was company policy to swap out meters every 15 years or something like that. He was done in just a couple of minutes. Amazing! If I were inside, would be none the wiser.
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:00 PM   #93
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We don't have a water softener.
OK, so that rules that out (assuming no surprises as LOL! points out).

Quote:
I haven't turned off the sprinkler valve. I watched the meter while the sprinklers were running and they used about 150 gal. The sprinklers only run one day per week and the excess usage has happened on days when the sprinklers were not running.

How long to get 150G? I guess I still wonder if this thing might not be coming on when you don't know it. Or are there multiple zones or something, maybe a different zone comes on?

I'm also having trouble thinking it would be a toilet. Like you, I hear them running (we've had them get stuck a time or two), but I'd still do the dye thing to rule it out.

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Old 04-07-2012, 06:52 PM   #94
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On the days you need to leave, take a meter reading and turn off the main water shutoff. When you return, take another reading. If the reading changed, you have a meter problem.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:14 PM   #95
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On the days you need to leave, take a meter reading and turn off the main water shutoff. When you return, take another reading. If the reading changed, you have a meter problem.
I've broken two water shutoff valves just by shutting them.

The one that broke in the open position wasn't so bad-- at least we had water, even if it was leaking past the unions & yoke.

The one that broke in the shut position was bad. We offered to put the tenants up in a hotel, but they politely declined. Turned out that the broken shutoff belonged to the condo association, not the city/county, so we had to coordinate both of them to shut off the water while a (professional) plumber replaced the broken valve. (Believe it or not, I was trapped at jury duty the day of the repairs.) And then it turned out that most of the condo's shutoffs leaked, so they had to shut off water to the entire 100-unit condo and spend 20 minutes just draining the dead leg of piping. The plumber eventually decided the water pressure wasn't too bad and "expedited" the draining process (all over the garage) by swapping out the valve while the piping was still draining.

So... if that street shutoff doesn't turn as smoothly as a bicycle pedal crank... I'd ask the water company to take a look at it before operating it. And then I'd operate it on a weekday morning when the "A" team was on duty.
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Old 04-07-2012, 08:43 PM   #96
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I work for a public utility and I can personally attest to a similar situation to yours. The problem turned out to be a leaking toilet that the customer swore he checked. He did check the toilet but it only leaked on certain days. We are able to see daily usage on our meters and were able to pinpoint that his leak occurred every 2-3 days. The toilet would slowly drain down and after a few days would cause the increase in water usage as it filled back up.

Part of my job is to handle cases like yours so feel free to fire away any questions you may have. I will try my nest to answer them.
When I was newbie homeowner, I had unusually high usage and called the water company to check it out. It was not nearly as extreme as OP's case. They found an intermittant problem with the toilet and refunded the excessive use charges since I had not actually "used" the water (e.g. it was wasted). This was Indianapolis in 1983.....seriously doubt any utility would be so generous today.
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:27 PM   #97
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It doesn't really behoove the water utility to help with the problem--they get paid for all the water the OP isn't using. If the soaking wet shoe were on the other foot I wonder how long it would take them to get the meter replaced! I think we would consult with a plumber.
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:46 PM   #98
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It doesn't really behoove the water utility to help with the problem--they get paid for all the water the OP isn't using. If the soaking wet shoe were on the other foot I wonder how long it would take them to get the meter replaced!
In our case ... about 12 months. Our water utility figured out we had zero water usage for a few months, so they replaced the meter. Then a few months later, I told them in person in their office that the meter was broken. This is when I learned they had replaced the meter just a few months earlier ("Our records show we replaced your meter 4 months ago, so it should be working.") In my chat with them, they said "Yeah, each year we have quite a number of meters we need to replace." It took several months more before we started to get a bill with usage larger than 0.

Of course, the utility charges a minimum monthly amount whether you use any water or not.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:42 PM   #99
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It doesn't really behoove the water utility to help with the problem--they get paid for all the water the OP isn't using. If the soaking wet shoe were on the other foot I wonder how long it would take them to get the meter replaced! I think we would consult with a plumber.
+1 F.'s plumber works with a leak detection service, and referred him to them. The leak detection service came out and found the leak, and the plumbing people promptly fixed it. Problem solved in hardly any time at all.
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:25 AM   #100
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When I was newbie homeowner, I had unusually high usage and called the water company to check it out. It was not nearly as extreme as OP's case. They found an intermittant problem with the toilet and refunded the excessive use charges since I had not actually "used" the water (e.g. it was wasted). This was Indianapolis in 1983.....seriously doubt any utility would be so generous today.
The supply line to my house leaked about 20,000 gallons in the front yard in December. Because of the drought, it was hard to locate (no muddy mess until well into the next billing cycle). I dug up the front yard pretty good just trying to find the pipe. Anyway, in the end, the utility refunded the leaked water and reset the sewer rate to the November usage.
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