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Old 02-22-2010, 12:05 AM   #1
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Default Plumbers: weird water meter readings

My water bills have climbed over the last few months. At first, I did not think much about it: more laundry, more brewing , something.

This past month was too much and I started looking back and I had more than doubled indicated water usage since summer.

I went out and checked the meter (new meter installed in July, with double check valve and pressure reduction valve set to 45 IIRC: order is meter, check valve, pressure reduction). Leak indicator spinning. Crap.

I calculated the amount of water and I am blowing off 90 some gallons a day somewhere. It has been wet, snowy, frozen. Today it has finally been dry and thawed enough I start looking. Nothing. No water. Any where.

I tested all the toilets (new in the last 2 years) a week ago, no leaks (I did the dye in the tank, nothing came into the toilet).

I am confused.

I am sitting at the meter box, with my yard riddled with test holes along the line path, watching the leak indicator spin. Frustrated.

I shut off the main line. Leak detector stops. Turn it on a minute later. It hisses for maybe 2 seconds, then the water flow stops.

The flow indicator stopped for a while, but it is moving again a few hours later (I am not sure when it started, I moved on to other projects.)

What is the best way to find this leak along the line?

The house does not have a main shutoff, so I am thinking dig the line out at the house, put in a shutoff in a ground box. Then I will know if the leak is in the 60 feet of run to the house, or in the house.


ARGH! At least I have beer to drink while I dig!

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Old 02-22-2010, 12:58 AM   #2
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could it be a faulty Meter?

Don`t want to be devils advocate but.....
We had a problem with the gas co. here a while back (the bills were astronomical)
me and swimbo had a fit and convinced them to give us a new meter.
After we saw the new bill,we decided we were being ripped off and called (the man) on them to test the meter.
Their response was that they accidently threw the meter in the dumpster and the bills were our fault.

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Old 02-22-2010, 03:26 AM   #3
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1. Do you have a sprinkler system? Is it still turned on? It could have frozen.
2. Check your outside hose bibs if they are leaking.
3. Check to see if the hot water heater is dripping out the drain tube.
4. 90 gpd isn't a huge leak, it's a steady drip. Its about 0.06gpm, or a cup a minute.

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Old 02-22-2010, 02:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefmike View Post
The house does not have a main shutoff, so I am thinking dig the line out at the house, put in a shutoff in a ground box. Then I will know if the leak is in the 60 feet of run to the house, or in the house.
I think this is your best bet. You need a shutoff for the house anyway. Where does the line come into your house? Is it possible to put one in there without any digging?

As stated above 90 gal a day is a small leak so i could be about anything. The one thing that makes me wonder about this is that it seems that the leak started right after the new meter was installed. Have you dug around this area? Could that when the meter was installed something didn't get tightened enough.
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:44 PM   #5
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I also have a new meter and my latest water usage is 2.5 times normal. Be happy you only have 60 feet, my water line is over 4000. I won't be able to check anything until summer, as the ground is so saturated that water seeps out of the hills.

Is your house on a slab or do you have a basement?

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Old 02-22-2010, 03:24 PM   #6
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I also have a new meter and my latest water usage is 2.5 times normal. Be happy you only have 60 feet, my water line is over 4000. I won't be able to check anything until summer, as the ground is so saturated that water seeps out of the hills.

Is your house on a slab or do you have a basement?
Or does it have a pier&beam system? If so, poke around under there to check for leaks. It could be so far under your house, you would never know it existed.

Also, have you noticed your house "settling" any? Such as doors that don't close well or cracks in your sheetrock?

I lived in apartment in college that developed a leak under the foundation. The first clue was a really warm kitchen floor. Turns out it was the hot water line from the boiler. Then I developed a small creek in the living room under the carpet.

How old is the house? We were warned on our house that the pipes were of a critical age. If we shut off the water, it was recommended we turn on the faucets inside to reduce the shock from repressuring the house water lines. This could be the problem in yours if they shut off the line to replace the main and did not turn on a faucet to reduce the shock to your system. The shock could result in a crack or break. Sounds like you have a small hairline crack somewhere.
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:36 AM   #7
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Thanks for the many responses.

The house is on a slab, with main coming in thru slab, all internal supply pipes are in the walls and ceiling. There is no sprinkler system. House is from the 70's, with plumbing redone late 90s. No leaks visible on any hose bib or internal feature. Hot water heater is not leaking because some dumbaas thought running the drainline to the ceiling and out would work (and I checked it). I did dig around the new meter and all. No sign of a steady leak.

Luckily I have not noticed any settling, and I am watching the foundation slab perimeter on the side the water is on, as it is all within a fairly close area.

I reckon I will find it when it dries out.

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Old 02-26-2010, 05:15 AM   #8
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I'm a plumber. It sounds like you have a slab leak. I'd have a plumber come out and take a look. Shop around, though. Some companies jackhammer the floor and take a week to do it. Other companies kill the leaking line and run a new one up the wall and through the attic. That can be done in a day. Repairing sheet rock is a lot cheaper and easier than repairing a jackhammered floor.

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Old 02-26-2010, 04:46 PM   #9
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I had a bad leak a couple years ago. My house was built in '65. I did have a whole house cutoff and I was able to determine the leak was between the house and the meter. I started digging out the line looking for the leak. The ground wasn't wet anywhere, no extra green grass, nothing on the surface but when I got to the line (3 feet down in some places) I found the leak. Replaced that section of galvanized pipe and I'm good now.

Def install that whole house cutoff. My water company is now talking about locking the meter boxes so I wouldn't have another way to turn off the water.

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