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Old 04-08-2012, 01:47 AM   #101
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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.
Where was the leak?
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Old 04-08-2012, 06:36 AM   #102
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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.
We still issue refunds for confirmed water leaks. We're a small utility ~3,100 customers in a small town so we try to do business the right way. Depends on the case but we would typically refund all the sewer costs and will spread out the water costs over several months if the bill is high enough.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:41 AM   #103
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Where was the leak?
I believe the latest one was between his shower and laundry room. My prior post was a little over-simplified. His house is a plumbing nightmare, probably due to the age of his house and the higher soil subsidence rate in his area. In the past five years or so he has had leaks under the slab, in the walls, under the driveway, and so on, and more serious plumbing problems than leaks to deal with. He jokes that he is sending his plumber's kids to college, and probably isn't far off....

But I think the part of my post that is most relevant to this thread is that plumbers and leak detection companies do have relationships and routinely work together to find and repair leaks quickly and accurately when needed. He has had the leak detection company out numerous times. They don't charge much (compared with his plumber) and do a great job of pinpointing where leaks are.

When I told him about this thread, he suggested that I mention this.

I, on the other hand, have never had a leak (said with a Cheshire cat smile) The only month in the past ten years when my water bill was above the minimum $5.41, was when they had been estimating my water and then finally came out and read the meter. I think it was about $10 over the minimum that month.
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:03 AM   #104
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I would get a plumber or leak detection company out here, but unless they happen to show up on a day that the problem is occuring, what exactly can they do? Do they have tricks to help find large but intermittent leaks like this? Once I hear back from the utility I'll call a plumber. I just don't want to hear "yup, everything looks good. that'll be $150."
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:05 AM   #105
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I would get a plumber or leak detection company out here, but unless they happen to show up on a day that the problem is occuring, what exactly can they do? Do they have tricks to help find large but intermittent leaks like this?
Probably. They are very competent at what they do, do it every working day for a living, and have some sophisticated equipment. You can call and ask them this very question if you are interested.

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Once I hear back from the utility I'll call a plumber. I just don't want to hear "yup, everything looks good. that'll be $150."
Perhaps it's a bad analogy (I guess they all are), but this seems to me like someone with an intermittent toothache saying that they don't want to go to the dentist because the dentist would just say, "yup, everything looks good. that'll be $150." Most plumbers aren't that good at finding leaks IMO. A good leak detection company is competent and finds leaks for a living. But, maybe you don't have any in your area.
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:32 AM   #106
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Could shut the main valve when you leave the house. That should prevent the big jumps, and if you have a dry toilet when you get back you have your culprit.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:34 PM   #107
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I would get a plumber or leak detection company out here, but unless they happen to show up on a day that the problem is occuring, what exactly can they do? Do they have tricks to help find large but intermittent leaks like this? Once I hear back from the utility I'll call a plumber. I just don't want to hear "yup, everything looks good. that'll be $150."
This makes me want to take a fresh look at a data logger with a remote repeater (in the kitchen) for my water meter... something that records the data 24/7 so that the mysterious 1000-gallon "intermittent leak" episodes can be analyzed & correlated.

Our home's first owner spent $50K on landscaping but went cheap on sprinklers. We have eight zones but not a single vacuum breaker on any of the irrigation valves. I'm sure a couple of the zones periodically siphon water out of the piping in tiny drips, but I'd need to practically excavate a cubic yard of dirt to re-do the valves with vacuum breakers and re-route the piping.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:16 AM   #108
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Between 6PM last night and 8AM this morning I had another 1500 gal spike. Everyone's yard has some dew on it, but our grass looked like it had been watered. Malfunctioning sprinkler controller? I'm going to unplug it and see what happens.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:02 AM   #109
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Between 6PM last night and 8AM this morning I had another 1500 gal spike. Everyone's yard has some dew on it, but our grass looked like it had been watered. Malfunctioning sprinkler controller? I'm going to unplug it and see what happens.
Ya think?

Geez, my 'find' function says 'sprinkler' has been mentioned 84 times in this thread, over the past 18 days, starting right at day one. And you are just now coming to this?

Lets see, 1500 gallons overnight. If it was triggered for ten hours, that would be 150 G/Hr. Divide by 60 and that's 2.5 gpm, about the same as a shower head.

You mentioned 5 zones set to 1 minute each? Any chance that is 1 hour (1 minute is an extremely short time to run a sprinkler, that water would evaporate, not soak in)? Hmmmm, 1 hour times 5 zones @ 5 gpm (which would seem more typical of a lawn sprinkler) would be ... wait for it..... 1500 gallons.

Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't you check out that sprinkler system?

Maybe even shut the valve off?


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Old 04-11-2012, 11:31 AM   #110
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ERD50 - what's your problem? Some of us still have full time jobs and my business card doesn't say "water usage investigator".

I've looked into various aspects of the sprinkler system several times (the controller, the heads, the valve) but this is the first time where my lawn actually seemed wet after one of the water usage spikes. So yeah, the sprinklers have been a candidate all along, but this is the first decent evidence I've gotten that points to them.

Thanks to those of you who've been helpful. I'm done updating this thread.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:34 AM   #111
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OK, sorry, a bit harsh. I just find it off-putting when so many people chime in to help, and all you have to do is turn off the valve. It seems so obvious to rule this out. So I'm dumbfounded when the advice isn't taken. That's all.

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Old 04-11-2012, 11:50 AM   #112
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I've looked into various aspects of the sprinkler system several times (the controller, the heads, the valve) but this is the first time where my lawn actually seemed wet after one of the water usage spikes. So yeah, the sprinklers have been a candidate all along, but this is the first decent evidence I've gotten that points to them.

Thanks to those of you who've been helpful. I'm done updating this thread.
soupcxan, this thread is helpful to many of us and it would be a shame if you stopped updating now. We appreciate your efforts and hope you continue sharing your progress.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:52 AM   #113
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OK, sorry, a bit harsh. I just find it off-putting when so many people chime in to help, and all you have to do is turn off the valve. It seems so obvious to rule this out. So I'm dumbfounded when the advice isn't taken. That's all.

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I was thinking the same as ERD50.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:16 PM   #114
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Between 6PM last night and 8AM this morning I had another 1500 gal spike. Everyone's yard has some dew on it, but our grass looked like it had been watered. Malfunctioning sprinkler controller? I'm going to unplug it and see what happens.
You must have the best looking lawn in town! Hope that solves the problem as it seems easier to fix than finding a leak elsewhere. Please do post your new and improved water bill when you get it.
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Old 04-11-2012, 03:10 PM   #115
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ERD50 - what's your problem? Some of us still have full time jobs and my business card doesn't say "water usage investigator".

I've looked into various aspects of the sprinkler system several times (the controller, the heads, the valve) but this is the first time where my lawn actually seemed wet after one of the water usage spikes. So yeah, the sprinklers have been a candidate all along, but this is the first decent evidence I've gotten that points to them.

Thanks to those of you who've been helpful. I'm done updating this thread.

I have to agree with ERD on this... you seem to have dismissed the sprinkler option a few times... but people kept bringing it up..

Did you ever put some kind of bowl, can, whatever out in the yard to see if it caught any water Just looking at the system, I could not tell you if mine was working correctly or not... every once in awhile I will do a test on it for 5 minutes to see if the water is still sparying like I want and none of the heads are broken...


PS... having it run 1 minute does nothing to the grass... just sayin....
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Old 04-28-2012, 09:52 AM   #116
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I started posting to this thread partially out of curiosity, and partially to try to help the OP track down his problem. I always seem to learn something from these things.

The OP seemed really focused on the meter. One of the questions I had from day one was, could a typical mechanical water meter actually intermittently read high? It seemed highly unlikely to me, usually mechanical things get stuck, or bind, slowing them down. I had a hard time picturing how it would intermittently speed up by a large multiple.

But I didn't really know how the meters work. A bunch of googling shows that residential water meters are of the 'positive displacement' type. They aren't just a propeller spinning in a water stream, they actually have a measured amount of water enter a chamber, and that triggers the counter, and then that chamber empties and fills again. Alternating pistons are one way to do this, but in the US the 'nutating disk' (AKA 'wobble disk) is the most common.

The disk wobbles, and I guess the water moves from one side to the other. I've looked at the diagrams, and I kinda get how these work, but I don't exactly follow the water flow in/out. At any rate, it seems about the only way they can read high is if air gets in the system. I guess the disk could wobble very quickly then.

I wonder if air is getting in to the pipes? Or, it just might be that darn sprinkler system?

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Old 04-28-2012, 10:34 AM   #117
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It's been over two weeks since the OP has updated. Soup, is there any news?
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:41 AM   #118
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PS... having it run 1 minute does nothing to the grass... just sayin....
Right, nothing for the grass, but if the heads are even ever-so-slightly below grade running one minute will help keep them clear.
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Old 05-05-2012, 02:00 PM   #119
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I really would like to know the outcome....
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