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  1. #1
    Chris Mazzola's Avatar
    Chris Mazzola Guest

    Default Water usage spike

    Can someone help answer this for me? Went to pay water bill today and got into argument with Water Dept because we see a significant spike in water usage - five times our normal average (from approx 3k per month to 15k in a single month). We do not have a pool/hot tub, and no signs of leaks indoors or out. What has us VERY perplexed, is a review of our last 3 years of usage history shows a constant 3-4k usage every month, EXCEPT for August, which shows 15k. It's like that for 3 years in a row - Jul and Sept show "normal" usage (3-4k) and there are no other spikes in any other month. We are not doing anything more/less in August than the rest of the year as far as using water in the home. Besides, if it was a leak, it wouldn't show up for just one month and be gone the next, or repeat itself in the same month every year. My hunch is a water dept. issue/overcharge/misread.

    Any thoughts on how to go about finding the answer?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Philadelphia PA
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    3,177

    Default Re: Water usage spike

    If you have access to the meter you could start reading it yourself.

    You don't sound like you're on a budget system where you pay the same amount every month and then "settle up" the difference once a year, so I guess that's not it.

    You don't typically go on vacation in August so your neighbor with the big pool can connect up to your water?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
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    4,170

    Default Re: Water usage spike

    Learn to read the meter yourself on the same day of the month and compare your usage to what they have.

    Sometimes they use estimated usage figures for at few months and then come back with the real reading or you could have "level billing" with a final bill that makes up the difference. If not for the history of previous years, I would be checking for a leak.
    Good luck.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,248

    Default Re: Water usage spike

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Mazzola View Post
    My hunch is a water dept. issue/overcharge/misread.

    Did they read the meter all the other months or simply average it out and then make a reading each August, making up any differences?

    They recently replaced out meter meter with one of the electrically reading ones, and they are doing this in phases throughout Ormond Beach - has yours been replaced yet?

    I would ask the utility department to check the numbers back a couple of years and see what the pattern is - but I'm guessing that the meter was not readily accessible to they may not have read it each month, making up the difference once per year.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
    Chris Mazzola's Avatar
    Chris Mazzola Guest

    Default Re: Water usage spike

    I think reading the meter ourselves is definitely in order from now on. Although there are folks in our neighborhood with a pool (across the street is the closest one, and they are faaaar from suspect!), my brother and I are here pretty much 24/7 and haven't had a vacation in years. We work opposite schedules, so the chances of someone sneaking around at night to tap into our water is highly unlikely.

    What really has us bugged, is that it recurs in the same month every year, for the same amount. Is it possible that the small fluctuations in line pressure going back-n-forth through a meter when someone fills their pool could cause it? I know that's a stretch (would have to account for 12,000 gallons above our normal usage), but aside from an annual mistake by the meter reader, it's the only thing I can think of.

    Your suggestion, Jerry, is interesting - although our meter (Ormond by the Sea) has not been replaced, the pattern is like clockwork: August shows 15k usage, every other month in the year shows between 2k and 4k. I would, naturally, be highly suspect of a faulty meter if that were the case. Have there been any other reports of similar things in the Ormond area that you are aware of? (Oh! and our meter is right in the front lawn, easily accessible, so no "guesswork" should be involved).


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,248

    Default Re: Water usage spike

    I have not heard of any similar reports, and when water meters go bad they are virtually always in your favor as they 'run slow' when they go bad.

    That is why the only thing I could think of was the monthly averaging and an annual 'catch up' reading.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Richard Soundy's Avatar
    Richard Soundy Guest

    Default Re: Water usage spike

    Have you checked this out with the neighbors - are they perhaps experiencing the same?

    Who knows, it may be a case of the water company loosing (leak) water in there distribution system - for them, it may be easier to make up the difference (just before a audit) by spreading it across the neighborhood?

    Regards - Richard


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    rockport texas
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    132

    Default Re: Water usage spike

    Call the P.U.C. for your state and have them deal with it. The water co. will have to give an explanation.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
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    Default Re: Water usage spike

    It very well may be that the utility "boosts" the water pressure due to the increased usage in the warmer months (late july, august). Increased consumption pools, personal showers/baths, laundry, irrigation, washing bugs off cars, screens, windows, etc. Increased turbidity due to increased usage can bring with it debris/sediment that can end up in the toilet tank - may be interferring with the toilet "flapper" seating, allowing leaking, and causing constant bursts of refilling. Another "source" might be the traditional annual "hydrant flushing" may be occuring June/early July - also "stirring up" scale, sediment which ends up interferring in valve operations and sediment in the toilet tank/collections interferring with the "flapper" function.During times not being heavily consumed, pressures build. You could be spiking at times you aren't aware of. Toilet fill valves, other valves may be leaking at times you are unaware (such as in the middle of the night). Other possibilities include your irrigation system, your outside hose bibs (with hoses attached, left on and controlled by a device at the end of the hose is a common situation - and bib valve leaks), and consider that during those hot humid months your laundry, personal grooming consumption, irrigation, car washing, etc. may indeed INCREASE.A notorious consumption point is often the toilet tank - for example a bad flapper - one that may seat and seal reasonably well for the most part when the tank waters are "still" but if over pressures overcomming leaky fill valve the "wave motion" in the tank might be "lifting" the flapper slightly.You could test water pressures, consider a pressure reducing valve (or if you have one service the screen, and verify its setting, and that it is working properly), remove hoses from hose bibs, and turn off same AND RELEASE pressure from hoses when not in use, check irrigation system (inproper settings and leaky heads can also result in thousands of gallons of water wasted per cycle), and investigate the toilets - a simple colorant to the water in the tank can be added, then check for signs of the colorant in the unused/unflushed "bowl". A "bad" flapper can equate to tens of thousands of gallons of water wasted per month. A leaky fill valve occasionally symptomatic with spiking pressures or sediment usually in the 3-10 thousand gallon range and can hold there for a while before fully letting go. Investigate the irrigation system, and the hose bibs. If theft of water is a concern, consider intermediate hidden valves, indoors, or valve lock boxes on the exterior.


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