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  • Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

    My Mom has been away for the past 6-months, so we make weekly checks on her house. Her water bills have been outrageous and the Water Utility company says the water meter on the property is working fine. My brother did food coloring in both toilet tanks, as there are only 2 toilets (2 full bathrooms) in the house, and found no change in color in either toilet bowls. We even checked the shower-heads, under the sinks, kitchen, and all faucets, they are not dripping and we have not found any wet spots. This empty and unoccupied house has consumed 8,000-gallons, 7,000-gallons, 10,000-gallons, 2,000-gallons, 2,000-gallons, and yesterday we got another water-bill for 5,000-gallons. My brother and I are out of ideas and places to check in the house. Please, How can we find this leak and stop it.

  • #2
    Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

    After the second bill I would be turning off the water service to the house to prevent any more large bills. It's also strange that the amounts very each month, usually a leak gets stays the same or gets bigger.

    I don't know where where the meter is located but if yours is on the lot line (here ours are in the house), and you don't see anything in the house, you probably have either a really nice and green patch of lawn between the meter and the house or the start of a sinkhole where the leak is.

    Or somebody in the neighborhood is coming over at night and hooking up a hose to the outside tap and using your moms water.

    I see you are in Washington DC and if you mom's house is there too from what I see on the water department website there is a high usage notification option. Apparently it takes data from the twice daily remote readings and if its abnormal will send a notification to who ever is selected. http://www.dcwater.com/highusage/default.cfm
    Last edited by mbhydro; 01-01-2012, 04:30 PM. Reason: add info

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    • #3
      Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

      American leak detection
      I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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      • #4
        Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

        Originally posted by mbhydro View Post
        After the second bill I would be turning off the water service to the house to prevent any more large bills. It's also strange that the amounts very each month, usually a leak gets stays the same or gets bigger.

        I don't know where where the meter is located but if yours is on the lot line (here ours are in the house), and you don't see anything in the house, you probably have either a really nice and green patch of lawn between the meter and the house or the start of a sinkhole where the leak is.

        Or somebody in the neighborhood is coming over at night and hooking up a hose to the outside tap and using your moms water.

        I see you are in Washington DC and if you mom's house is there too from what I see on the water department website there is a high usage notification option. Apparently it takes data from the twice daily remote readings and if its abnormal will send a notification to who ever is selected. High Usage Notification - DC Water - District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority /httpd/live/html/highusage/default.cfm
        Thanks mbhydro - so very good to know about that high-usage link!

        Sorry I should have provided more details in my initial post >>

        Yes, the water meter is right on the lot-line. The house sits on a slab and is located in Maryland. The alarms inside our head only started going off after we received the 2nd Bill/August 7,000-gallons - because we thought the previous high bill was for consumption prior to Mom leaving. We then asked the City who handles the Water-Billing to check the water-meter - not once but twice - they said the water meter was spinning intermittently. However, when my brother or I watched the water-meter it didn't move at all - so we did the food coloring in the toilet tank - which were both negative. Also we turned off the water under each of the toilets and under all the sinks including the kitchen.

        By the beginning of October, following the 10,000-gallons consumed bill, I contacted the City and requested water-service be shutoff because we can't find any leaks and suspected someone was stealing the water. This gets weirder - then comes the 2000-gallons bill - which I assumed it was for the pre-shutoff leak-consumption. Then when the second 2000-gallons consumed bill arrived, the reader's digest version: the City says that they only locked the water-meter, this Nov bill 2000-gallons consumed - is for water consumption that is bypassing the meter - their translation, there is a leak inside the house!!!

        XTRA WEIRD PART >> Apparently, when the City shuts-off water service, it's only the water-meter that is locked, and water can still flow to the home << We personally had never heard of such a thing - so this is why I've posted our SOS on the board. In my mind if the City shutsoff service - where is the water coming from???


        Of note MBhydro, my brother pointed out to the City - if there is leaking - how comes it goes up, up, then down, down, then up again

        So this is why we are Desperate - because the City shutoff service but water is still bypassing the meter - and generating these crazy high bills - where else can we look for this water leak or leaks?

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        • #5
          Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

          Things to look for:

          T&P valve on water heater open.

          If the house has the following.

          Water Softener that is getting stuck in regeneration cycle

          Reverse Osmosis Unit that has a shut off valve that is not engaging. (This is a very common issue with R.O.'s and huge water waster) Avg. Residential R.O. Formula: For every gallon of water they make they discharge 4-5 down the drain. If you have an R.O. that has a 45 gallon per day Membrane you could easily throw 200 gallons down the drain.

          Pool, spa, or pond auto fill that is not shutting off.

          --------------------------

          Also the possibility that the water may be tied into a neighbors supply or a neighbor knowing no one is at the house is tapping the faucets at night with there own hose. I happens all the time.

          American Leak Detector will run you around $250.00 - $500.00 and will usually pinpoint the problem within a few hours.

          You can go to a commercial plumbing supply or on the net and buy hose spigot lock out clamps.

          Use common sense and you can track down the leak. If the house is local, go to it every single day at the same time and read the meter, twice a day if you can pull that off. Morning and evening. In a week you will be able to tell if someone is tapping the line. The water usage will mostly spike at night. Is there anyone in the neighborhood that operates a mobile window cleaning, window screen, car detail service? Leaks in plumbing generally stay constant, and only increase in time. Your water bill fluctuation sounds more like someone is tapping the line.

          In my college days I had an apartment that had spikes all the time in electrical usage. Nobody including the electric company could figure out why. Finally a guy from Edison came out who was more a Dick Tracey kind of guy and in about two hours had figured out that the apt. behind us had tapped into our power supply through one of there bedroom walls.

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          • #6
            Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

            It could also be the expansion tank (if you have one) on the hot water heater. Expansion tank can move the meter back & forth. When it does this it usually moves it more forward than it does back. If no one is living in the house turn the hot water heater off, remove the expansion tank & put a pipe plug in the hole.

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            • #7
              Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

              Watch the water meter with nothing in the house on. If the dial or small triangle is not moving after a few minutes, you probably don't have a leak, you have a water thief or what the other said about stuck t&p valves, or softeners, etc.

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              • #8
                Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                is there a shut off valve just inside the house that can be shut off this might be in a utility room or where the water heater is . at some point there is pipes going into the slab that is going to other bathrooms ,see if there is valves you can shut off
                if the city shuts off the meter then now water should go into the house unless there valve is bad ,there is no bypass .

                you said
                Apparently, when the City shuts-off water service, it's only the water-meter that is locked, and water can still flow to the home << We personally had never heard of such a thing - so this is why I've posted our SOS on the board. In my mind if the City shutsoff service - where is the water coming from???
                why would they shut off the meter and still let water flow ,then they cant tell how much water is leaking and there for they cant charge you for any water use because the meter is off

                i would first look for a main shut off inside the house
                Charlie

                My seek the peek fundraiser page
                http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


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                new work pictures 12/09
                http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

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                • #9
                  Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                  I'm with hawk ..every meter i have seen the water running through it is how the dials turns
                  The city is giving you the run around also

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                  • #10
                    Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                    I agree with Delcase. If the meter is locked, how does the city know how much water was used????

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                    • #11
                      Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                      If the water is by-passing the meter then there would be no registering of gallons used would there? I have never seen a water meter that once it was shut off/locked out that would allow City water to enter a house/building. Have the City pull the meter. No meter no water bill. Then have a professional locator find the leak if there is one, and then have your plumber fix it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                        OK, I went back re-read Coach Michelle's 2nd posting about the Meter after a couple of you posted comments.

                        Either the meter valve is open or closed. If its in the closed position and you have water leaking by, then the frigging meter and the valve need to be replaced by the water dept. Period!!! I had this happen at a house for a family member two years ago. We were doing a re-pipe and went to shut off the water at the meter and low and behold water still coming out of the faucets. City had a crew of guys there within three hours on a Sunday after I called it in replacing both the meter and valves. (inlet and outlet to the meter)

                        Have you confirmed that the meter valve is in the off position? If yes, is there a lock on the valve. If not then put one on it and start going to the property once a day to read the meter. I have a sneaking suspicion your water usage is going to go away. If you see water usage then get the city to replace the meter and valve. If they give you a bunch of B.S. Use these words. "You, The Water Dept, have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to provide me with the ability to turn my water off completely at the source, (ie: Meter) as I do not control anything before the meter."

                        Good luck and please post when you figure out what has been going on.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                          If the house is located inside the Capital beltway we can probably help you. Who's your water company? WSSC?
                          Did you ask them to lock the meter? 30 years of plumbing and ive only seen the water dept lock a meter once and that was a commercial building.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                            Originally posted by ArizonaPlumber View Post
                            If the water is by-passing the meter then there would be no registering of gallons used would there? I have never seen a water meter that once it was shut off/locked out that would allow City water to enter a house/building. Have the City pull the meter. No meter no water bill. Then have a professional locator find the leak if there is one, and then have your plumber fix it.
                            I personally have shut "City side" meter valves and had them leak. Those valves fail just like anyone elses, simply because they never get actuated on a regular basis.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Can't find water leak/leaks... Please - Any Suggestions - We Are Desperate!

                              Originally posted by Watersurgeon View Post
                              OK, I went back re-read Coach Michelle's 2nd posting about the Meter after a couple of you posted comments.

                              Either the meter valve is open or closed. If its in the closed position and you have water leaking by, then the frigging meter and the valve need to be replaced by the water dept. Period!!! I had this happen at a house for a family member two years ago. We were doing a re-pipe and went to shut off the water at the meter and low and behold water still coming out of the faucets. City had a crew of guys there within three hours on a Sunday after I called it in replacing both the meter and valves. (inlet and outlet to the meter)

                              Have you confirmed that the meter valve is in the off position? If yes, is there a lock on the valve. If not then put one on it and start going to the property once a day to read the meter. I have a sneaking suspicion your water usage is going to go away. If you see water usage then get the city to replace the meter and valve. If they give you a bunch of B.S. Use these words. "You, The Water Dept, have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to provide me with the ability to turn my water off completely at the source, (ie: Meter) as I do not control anything before the meter."

                              Good luck and please post when you figure out what has been going on.
                              THANK YOU THANK YOU EVERYONE!

                              We checked the water meter valve and sure enough it was in the Lock position but there was No Lock on the valve. My brother ran over to home depot and got a laptop like cable lock. He is now looking for an inside-the house-water-shutoff. Then we wait and see what next the Water Dept is going to send us this month.

                              Me on the other hand - as soon as I am done posting here - I will write a complaint to the Public Service Commission (PSC) - and I hope Watersurgeon doesn't mind my borrowing his language word for word -
                              "If water meter is in the closed position and water is leaking by, then the meter and the valve need to be replaced by the water dept. You, The Water Dept, have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to provide me with the ability to turn my water off completely at the source, (i.e. Meter) as I do not control anything before the meter. City water meter valves fail just like anyone elses, simply because they never get actuated on a regular basis."

                              I will keep everyone posted - MUCH GRATITUDE!

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