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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
ok guys, here's the deal. I got a HUGE water bill in the mail today and I don't know why. Let me explain some. My family normally uses around 13k gallons over a 2 month period. Back in June when we drain and refilled our pool, we only use 20k gallons TOTAL. The bill I received today is for 42k gallons!!!!!!!!! There is no freakin way! 42,000 gallons over a 2 month period! I had a small leak on the water softner that made a small flood in the garage ..but not 20k gallons worth of flood! Not to mention that the water company are a bunch of Nazis that are a$$holes to deal with.

Any ideas on how to get my bill lower?

The Mrs. seems to think someone has been using OUR water....but I don't know. What are they watering? Grass is dead.

DS
 

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Look for wet spots around meter and where it comes into house. I had same thing this summer. My pressure reducing valve was leaking. If you make repairs call them and most of the time they will discount the overage.


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I'm told I'm pretty awesome...
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If it's a leak outside and not into the sewer you can get them to drop the sewer cost of the overage. That's the bulk of the cost anyhow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Look for wet spots around meter and where it comes into house. I had same thing this summer. My pressure reducing valve was leaking. If you make repairs call them and most of the time they will discount the overage.

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Good idea...thanks!

Has the water company been estimating your bill? Chosen the end of the year to catch up and buff up their bottom line?
They supposedly read the meter...but I can about guarantee you that there is a couple of inches of dirt on the meter. The math works...as far as what the meter "was" and what the current meter reading "is"..on paper.....I haven't had a chance to go out and actually look....I will tomorrow!

DS
 

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I had a problem on a rental house when a tenant vacated where a line was busted and the meter was turning when all the water was off. Started checking and found a place where the ground was "a little" soft, but found out it was really wet where you couldn't see...seemed like it was only a small portion of dampness on top. Got the line fixed and showed a copy of the repair bill to the water department. Sometimes as stated above, they will work with you...some places just have you pay what your average bill is. Check under the house also. Make sure all water is turned off and watch the meter...If it's still turning, the water is going somewhere. Also, you can buy these covers for outside faucets that lock. If someone is stealing the water, that will stop that problem.
 

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I had that happen once, meter reader was "fluffing" the reading....I got a big bill, went out to the meter and took a picture of the meter...well sand...the meter was buried in.

What stinks here is that they charge double basically....every drop that comes in gets a sewer charge...no matter if you drink it, water the plants, water the yard, whatever....so water that never goes in the sewer is still charged sewer.
 

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Drill a well if you own. A leak maybe?

When I lived and rented a house in Asheville, the water bill was mailed bi-monthly which came out to $140 to $150 or $70 to $75 a month for two people and a pooch. Later bought a house with a 425' well and never looked back nor ran out of water. Better tasting too.

Good Luck!
 

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Shut off the water at the house. If you have a main inlet shutoff valve this is the easy way to do it. Then look at the meter, if the small wheel is still moving, you have a leak between the meter and the house.
 

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I had that problem with a toilet that would constantly keep flowing water because the plug wouldn't seal. The water company gave me some dye tablets to put in our toilet tanks to see which one was leaking. After we found it, it was an easy fix.


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Having worked in the utility industry for a while, I've actually been assigned to water bill discrepancies and requests at one time for a city I worked for. Concerning the meter being covered in dirt, there are two things that can be misleading here. As already mentioned, it could very likely be a "radio read" meter where it transmits the reading to a vehicle that simply drives by or a person who just waves a wand at it. Second, if you're in a sandy soil area and it's a visual read meter, the reader will remove just enough sand to read the meter and move one. One small rain storm will push the sand back on top of the meter, making it look like no one was there. Odds are though, now that the technology is more accepted and costs less, that it is a radio read meter.

Meters can and do fail, but they usually fail in favor of the customer...meaning they will read less than what actually went through the meter.

Unknown to most folks, and even still un-believed by those shown the numbers and math to prove it, a very small pinhole leak or a running toilet (even one that only does it occasionally), can run up water usage deceivingly quickly. I used to have a little pocket reference card that showed the size of a pinhole and its associated leak rate/loos per month. If you've got copper pipes, the odds of this happening are high.

Here's a website that does an ok job of explaining common household leaks: http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/Household_Leaks.aspx

As others have mentioned, get in contact with the utility billing department and tell them that something is up. It'll be on your dime and time to figure out what is the problem, and they likely won't work with you on adjusting the bill until you prove that you've found the problem and made the necessary repairs to prevent it. Even then, don't expect them to wipe the bill clean. Water did flow through the meter and was consumed...even if only by a toilet or the ground in a leak. That potable water costs money to "make" (treatment is extremely expensive, especially sewage). Most utilities bill in a tiered manner, meaning higher users get billed at a higher rate. Usually it's so much money per unit for the first so many units, then a higher price per unit for the next block, and so on. If you can show that it was a leak and not just you being a water hog, they may be inclined to rebill all of the water at the lowest tier. That's what we did at the city I was at...and it seemed fair to me and most of the customers.

As someone mentioned already, go watch your meter when you think everything is off. There's a low flow indicator...usually a little triangle that spins. If it's moving when you think everything is off and not using water, then you've got a leak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The Mrs. called the nazis...I mean water company. They want to charge $55 to send someone out to reread the meter. This new company has been in the news numerous times for incorrect billing. Asked to speak to a manager and that takes 24 hours for them to get back with me. I'm on a slab on the east coast. I'll shut off the water at the house and go watch the meter to see if its still running. That's the only thing I know to do. But 42,000 gallons for a 2 month period is crazy!!!!!!!!!


DS
 

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If it has the drive by reader, pay the bill, clip the wire and they will need to look at the meter next time to get a true reading. If it was wrong then your bill will be almost nothing.
The bill should have info on the readings as to dates and amounts, look to see if it is in line.
A lot will do a average over 12 months and only read every 6 to 12 months or when turned on or off to save time on reading the meter.
 

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We had one where we kept the meter on in a vacant house for about an 18 month period. City water/sewer. For 17 months, the minimum usage was billed. On the 18 month, we got a bill for over 1000 dollars.

Either the guy checking the meter didn't read it for 18 months, or the if it was a radio meter it was broken. Either way, we keep pretty good records, and happen to have the last 5 years worth of water bills.

Over the 17 month period, the usage amounts were the same, and then suddenly in the 18 month, they finally corrected the meter or read it, but they added up 18 months of water/sewer usage into 1 months billing period.

We finally convinced them of their error, but only after we showed them all the bills with the no change in the meter usage.

Good luck, them people don't think they ever make mistakes, and it until you find one with a half a brain you don't have a chance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
UPDATE:
The Mrs. got ahold of a manager which seems to be level headed. She advised us to check the meter to make sure it was a correct reading. Then she went into putting food coloring in the toilets etc. to attempt to find a leak.

I get home and shut the water off to the house. I go out and dig the dirt off of the meter. Well, well, well....what do you know. It reads twenty something thousand gallons LOWER than their "reading". I took pics on my cell and sent them to the Mrs. The Mrs. called the manager lady back and informed them of their error on the reading. The manager lady said that was good and she would put a work order in for another reading and to not worry about the bill right now; but the work order could take 7-10 days before someone was able to come out.

Now...why couldn't the FIRST employee be this REASONABLE! I mean that B&%$ was saying that they NEVER make mistakes and we would have to pay the outrageous bill!

I looked at the meter about 20-30 minutes later (water was shut off still) and the meter looked the same...which is good meaning I don't have a leak between the meter and the house.

Thanks for the help guys. I wanted to blame SNAL since I wipe out his Ruger collection...I mean....um..er.....LOL

DS
 

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This kind of BS is especially infuriating when you drive down the street and see a leak spouting water out of the street for a month straight. It really makes it tough to take the water company seriously when they want to collect.
 
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