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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there. Water consumption in my house is high since we bought the house. No leaks for sure (when we left for a month, the usage was none); also in the past 1-2 years, we've renovated all bathrooms, installed water efficient toilets, showers, faucets, etc.. No long showers, no frequent laundries either. Per water company data, our water consumption is above average and for sure higher than my neighbors I talked to (with bigger houses, more habitants, daily yard watering).
And no, I don't use sprinklers. I occasionally water a few plants with a hose.

I suspect that a water meter faulty it shows e.g. 2x more what we use. Technically, I don't have access to it (it is in one of those locked boxes buried at the property line). I called the water company asking for a validation, but I was disregarded.

What's the procedure of conducting an audit of actual use and who can do that? I would prefer NOT to cut my main water line to install the 2nd meter inside my house to compare indications.

Thoughts?

Thanks!
J.
 

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Hi there. Water consumption in my house is high since we bought the house. No leaks for sure (when we left for a month, the usage was none); also in the past 1-2 years, we've renovated all bathrooms, installed water efficient toilets, showers, faucets, etc.. No long showers, no frequent laundries either. Per water company data, our water consumption is above average and for sure higher than my neighbors I talked to (with bigger houses, more habitants, daily yard watering).
And no, I don't use sprinklers. I occasionally water a few plants with a hose.

I suspect that a water meter faulty it shows e.g. 2x more what we use. Technically, I don't have access to it (it is in one of those locked boxes buried at the property line). I called the water company asking for a validation, but I was disregarded.

What's the procedure of conducting an audit of actual use and who can do that? I would prefer NOT to cut my main water line to install the 2nd meter inside my house to compare indications.

Thoughts?

Thanks!
J.
Yea, that's tough one. Usually your city municipality handles that, homeowners can not touch it. Being the water meter is in a locked box, with no access to it, you will need to get them involved.

My suggestion would be if no results going through water department or city, go right to the mayor's office rep., give them a call and explain your issue.

Does you local municiplaity have town/village meetings etc.?
 

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What's the procedure of conducting an audit of actual use and who can do that?
You can do it.
First, turn off all water consuming items and check that water meter is not advancing. You might have to turn off the shut-offs to the toilets -- you could have some leakage through the flappers (which, by the way, can quickly add up to huge costs).
Then, fill up at least (4) x 5 gallon pail (carefully, to exactly 5 gallons -- you might have to calibrate where 5 gallons is using a known accurate container).
Compare what you poured into the pail to how much the meter has advanced. If its off by a factor of two, it should be pretty obvious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yea, that's tough one. Usually your city municipality handles that, homeowners can not touch it.
My suggestion would be if no results going through water department or city, [...]
Thanks Jmon. Do you think the water company / department is obligated to respond to my concerns or this is only their good will? I am even willing to pay for "water audit". If they refuse, is this something what can be done by 3rd party (like radon testing, or energy audit)?

J.
 

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Kind of hard to that with the meter in a buried locked box.
How do you cut off the water if you have a leak?

Do you have to wait for the water company?

My meter is in a box in a box in the front yard.

The valve, on my side of the meter, is accessible and unlocked.

The water companies valve, ahead of the meter, is locked open.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Kind of hard to that with the meter in a buried locked box.
Yeah. BTW. we talk about an average monthly usage at least 5000 gallons (small house). The highest usage was over 7000 gallons. And this is after installing all that water-efficient stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
How do you cut off the water if you have a leak?
I've a main shut off valve in the basement of my house. If the pipe bursts between water meter (at a property line) and my main wave, I am screwed or I can "break in" to utility company valve next to the water meter's enclosure.

J.
 

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Your water usage would have to be fairly radical for the metered usage to be out by a factor of two (so is really about 28 USgallons/person/day). My wife and I live in a place with a summer water shortage, so we’re water frugal, but still use 35 USgal/person/day) indoors. We have no bathtubs in the house, take short showers, have short distance small diameter hot water pipes to fixtures to reduce wasted water when turning on hot water, have low flush toilets that don’t always get flushed when there is only urine in them, etc.
 

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There are clamp on water meters that can monitor the water flow through your pipes.

No breaking into your plumbing required.

Prices range from really cheap ($30.00) to really expensive ($3000.00 and up).

Can you actually read the water company's meter?

I had an issue with my water bill, no one else in the house but me.

They swore they were reading my meter every month.

I didn't believe them.

Placed a few items in the meter box that would have to be moved to see the dial.

Took pictures two months in a row, items blocking the dial were never moved.

Found out they were using the water consumption of the previous home owner.

Previous owner had a wife, two teen age daughters, and a garden using way more water than a single guy would.

Had to go to a city council meeting to get the "guessimate" billing stopped.

Not to long after that they installed electronic meters that could be read while they drove down the street.
 

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I would question their right to continue to bill you using only readings from a locked meter (or plain old estimates).

And, given that some water usage tests require an extended test time, possibly days, you need continuous access to the meter for a long time.

"" items that would have to be moved to see the dial ...""

You could have made your own readings and calculations and then filed for a rebate.
 

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Have never been a big fan of water companies. Esp my current one. Water is so over chlorinated it smells like bleach when you remove commode tank lid or right from the tap sometimes. We only drink bottled water and double filter water used for anything other than drinking. On every job I've worked on in this community the meters are encrusted with dirt so estimating must be their only method since they don't have wireless metering. But my biggest gripe is that I pay sewage rates based on water usage even though we're on septic rather than whatever a minimum rate would be for monthly service. I've read where some communities with similar access/non-usage situations at least use those monies paid by septic customers to maintain septic systems, but not here. I guess there's a reason that Water Works is a property space in the game Monopoly.
 

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I would certainly think any company has to justify metering and billing procedures to any client that has documented discrepancies from the local average - especially when the difference is X2!
 

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I always question utility company data comparing our home to our “comparable” neighbors. In NY I changed our single outdoor light to an LED and our home is vacant for 3 months per year while we are in FL. The only electrical devices running are the outdoor light, the high efficiency furnace and occasionally the sump pump. We also let the refrigerator and freezer run. During the 3 months while our house is empty we still use a little more electricity than our “comparable” neighbors who have occupied houses. Bull crap.
 
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Our water is super cheap so they only bill every 3 months. In 3 months we use around 15,000 gallons, but, as I mentioned, our water is cheap so we don’t think about consumption. Here is what I would do if I questioned the consumption numbers. First, I would buy a meter, put it in the house and compare readings. You don’t want to do that. You tried the water supplier and they don’t want to deal with it. I would cut the lock on the water meter vault. Then I would do some testing by turning on one water using device at a time and seeing how much water it uses and whatever else you can do to check consumption. Filling containers will be hard to do, since you need very accurate numbers. When they notice the cut lock, play dumb.
 

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I would prefer NOT to cut my main water line to install the 2nd meter inside my house to compare indications.
It’s impractical to modify usage of anything (water, power, money) without having a good idea of what that usage is. For example, we’ve made several changes to how things run in our house since we started using a Sense electricity monitor to get live usage data. Maybe you should reconsider the idea of installing your own water meter. There are many options that will not just give you detailed data on your water usage, but also give you the added bonus of providing leak detection and automatic shutoff to prevent water damage in your house (one of the most common homeowner’s insurance claims).
 
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