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Discussion Starter #1
Hello:
I have lived in my home since 1976 and for the past two years our water bill averages $180.00 for every three months. In June of this year my bill increased to $242.00. I contacted the water department and an employee came to the house and said we needed a new water meter.

He installed the new meter and told me some where in the home there was water dripping. He found a drip coming out of the outside spigot for our hose which I fixed.

He then said we had a small drip coming out of the bathroom faucet which I fixed. He then found one last drip coming out of the faucet by our stationary tub in the basement which I fixed.

He then said all the leaks were fixed and my meter also showed no running water after I corrected the above problems. Our next bill went back down to $184.00. I received another bill today and the bill is back up to $242.00.

I checked all the faucets and could not find any leaks. I checked the water meter and it also shows no running water.

Any ideas what could be causing the increased water bills? My wife is doing the same amount of wash, we take the same number of showers and baths. I am very puzzled on what is causing our water bill to spike like this?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Steve Balistreri
Wauwatosa Wisconsin
 

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Turn off the water at the house, not the street, and then see if the meter is still slowly running. You may have to turn the water off for a half hour and see if the needle moved. I did this and discovered a slow leak between the meter and the house.

The problem is with sloppy builders. Whoever built our house dumped construction trash into the water line trench, including nails. These nails set up a galvanic corrosion cycle with the water pipe, and eventually the micro current over a 20 year span ate a small hole in the pipe, causing the leak. I dug down to the pipe and had a plumber fix it. And removed as much of the dumped debris as I could.
 

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If you have a clean-out cap where the sewer comes out of the house, you can look and see if water is going down the sewer line when nothing should be. Toilets, water softeners, etc. can waste water. Do you have a landscape irrigation system? Ron

Added: I have been in the water trades since 1982 and have done a lot of leak chasing. Don't assume anything. The first thing I would do when I came to your house would be to be sure everything using water was turned off and the meter was not moving. Then I would turn the water off at the meter for maybe 15 to 20 seconds. I would then turn the water back on and see if the meter reading jumps.

If the meter jumps you have a constant leak somewhere. If the meter doesn't move you may have an intermittent leak. This could be an extra cycling of a water softener, irrigation system, dishwasher, washing machine or the neighbor filling his swimming pool off your hose bib.

It is remotely possible the flow may not be enough to turn the meter all of the time. Sometimes the meter reader/water company uses estimates because of weather, budget cuts, etc. Incidently, they hate to admit that in my experience. Learn how to read the meter and track your usage every day for a month. If you usually use 500 gallons a day and all of a sudden you use 1,500 one day, you may have a better recall of what might have happened the last 24 hours. Let me know if none of this helps. Ron
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ron:
No I don't. Thanks for trying to help me.
Steve

Brian:
I turned off the water from the house but I did not wait 1/2 hour. I will try that. Thanks for trying to help me.
Steve
 

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Are they reading the meter or estimating? If you're in a rural area someone may not be doing there job. Larry
 

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Our water and sewer rates go up every year. Just a thought, although in dollars that's a sizeable jump.

Gene in Illinois
 

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Brian: Good idea except my understanding is the meter is not constantly running. Another thing I have done is put a pressure ga.on a hose bib and monitored the pressure in the house after shutting off the water at the meter. That probably gives a more accurate accounting of water/pressure loss. Converting from dollars spent to actual water used also helps. Sometimes we get into penalty rates or fee changes which make large changes in bills without big increases in usage.

One of the strangest jobs I was on turned out to be the homeowner's mother was having her own personal plumbing problem. She liked to hear water running to help get her in the mood to go, so to speak. She would run water in the bathroom sink in the middle of the night. It took a while to figure that one out. Ron
 

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If you put food coloring in your toilet tanks and with out flushing it enters the bowl you have a toilet that needs repair.

Jim
 

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Molon Labe
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Everybody is giving you good advise, but there should be (everyone I have ever seen had one) a little disc type thing in the meter, watch that if there is even a tiny drip the disc will "flutter"

Also has the water ever been turned off during the high billings? The reason I ask is we have a 1/2 mile of 2 inch pipe to our house, it holds I think 800 is what I calculated, from time to time sometimes they turn off the water to repair a leak or something goes wrong with the pump, we have rural water, when the line gets full of air it might spin the meter 10 times faster than it does with water, and it costs to a stop when water hits it

I know I need to put in the double check that has been laying on the bench for about 10 years, but the up side of the air turning the meter so fast is when the water does hit it sometimes it ruins the meter so you will get minimum readings until they change the meter
 

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Catpower: A new federal law effective 1 January says you can't install that ten year old double check in a potable water line. It now has to be lead-free. You can still use it on an irrigation-only supply line in most of Texas but check with your water company. Ron
 

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Up here in Colo-RAD-o the water people for the last several years have 'rationed' water on the excuse of drought. One summer they did the schedule and sent little fascistic chumps out to patrol the streets to ticket anyone using water on days they weren't supposed to. Well, the next year we all got a notice that we hadn't used ENOUGH water to pay for 'capital imptovements' and that they were raising our rates. Bills more than doubled.

Look at the rate structure on the current bill versus the rate structure on a bill from maybe 5 yearsa ago and see if they raised the rates.

Don T
 

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Like Catpower said, our City's water meters have a very small red, triangle shaped needle, that will rotate at the slightest passing of water through the meter. Kind of like the hands on a clock.

Yours may also, just remove the lid, and look for this needle.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the advice. I checked the needle and it does not move. Something strange though, I shut the water off for the whole house and then went to the stationary tub and took off the cold handle and cartridge and then replaced the washer even though there was no leak.

While doing this, water was streaming out even though the water was shut off? I reassembled everything and put the cartridge back in and the handle on back on and again no leak. I turned the cold water on again and water comes out by the handle? I turned the handle to off and no dripping coming out of the spigot.

When I take the cartridge off, is there a seat that could be bad causing the handle to leak when I am using the cold water? As you all can see I am not a plumber.
Steve
 

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Even though the water is shut off, if you take the faucet apart you will usually get some drainage. If you have a leak after putting the cartridge back correctly, you probably have a bad seal. Ron
 

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I am not a plumber, either, but when I replace a faucet cartridge, I thoroughly clean the bore, (like your shotgun), maybe a light sanding inside with emery cloth, and lubricate it with plumbers lube before re-assembly.

Even new o-rings can't seat properly in a corroded mess.

Your continued flow of water may be because your valve is not closing completely. Not uncommon!

Good luck, Steve
 

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Molon Labe
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Don T a few years ago the state told our co-op that we needed to drill another well because of the expansion that had been taking place. We got bids and settled on one for $625,000, the reason so much is we have to drill about 2200 feet to get good water, and it is the best water I have ever tasted better than any bottled. And we also had the lowest water rates for any co-op in the area. Well the EPA got wind of it and they got involved, the price went from $625,000 to $2.25 million, and since that happened we have only had about 5 new members

Ron, I think the double check is lead free and if it isn't I ain't telling anybody about it. When I got my plumbers license back in the 70's I had to wipe a lead joint to pass it. I was a short lived plumber, more money in pushing freon through the pipes

But it will probably be sitting on the same shelf for another 10 years
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I spoke to the gal in the water dept. One old nasty lady. Refused to send someone out here to take a look at my water meter.
Steve
 

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Steve,

Call her back, tell her as soon as you borrow some tools from a neighbor, you will disconnect it and bring it into the office so someone can take a look at it. HMB
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I Left a message for the Mayer to call me back. Wonder if she will call? I would think if a citizen feels the bill is incorrect due to a meter problem that you have a right to request that someone from the water dept. come out and take a look?

Regardless, in my area some of the meanest people work for the city and motor vehicle. To me, I think it takes more energy to be nasty to someone than nice.

I do not want to get the person in trouble but I do feel something is wrong. If not, I'll pay for the service call then?
Steve
 
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