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Thread: Water dept. installed wrong size device (meter)

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Helen92253's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    La Quinta, CA

    Default Water dept. installed wrong size device (meter)

    Hi everyone, I would appreciate your comments. I manage a small commercial building and there are two water meters for the 3 tenants. Both meters were replaced by the city (routine maintenance) in March, 2010. Since then one of the meters has shown crazy high usage. The history of this meter -- for at least 10 years back--shows about 25 units a quarter. The last 4 readings have been: 24, 55, 77, 99.
    My bill has jumped from about $175 to $535. After much screwing around, and my building maintenance guy insisting that the water dept guy please take a second look, we have determined that the water line to the building is a 5/8" line and the meter is a 1" flow device. The other meter was the proper size and there has been no change in usage on that water bill. The accounting department told me on Friday that this "wrong" meter being installed would have made only about a $15 per quarter difference on my bill. does this sound right to you plumbing experts? Can you suggest any questions that I should be asking the water dept's maintenance guy when I call him in a couple of days. As it is, I'm dealing with a woman in the office who knows no more than I do about water measuring devices -- but I can do the math!!! Help is appreciated!

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Yakima WA


    A water meter shows usage. It should not matter what size the meter is to do that. It would seem to me the meter in question is faulty. You may want to consult an attorney. I would bet a letter for him would get the attention of the person in charge and the meter will be replaced. I would add that there is no such thing as a 5/8" line. It is probably a 3/4" pipe into a 1" meter.

  3. #3
    George the Plumber Gsalet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    San Francisco


    When a water meter gets old it tends to not read correctly usually under reporting. I would try doing a test by flowing a certain amount of water, say by filling a 55 gallon drum and check the meter before and after filling

  4. #4
    In the Trades Jerome2877's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Are you sure you don't have a leak? Check for running toilets in the building and if there is an isolation valve inside the building , shut it down and see if the meter still moves.

  5. #5
    Journeyman/Inspector Inspektor Ludwig's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    In the good ol' UPC


    Yeah, check for leaks. Have everything shutoff (if possible) take a reading then wait 10 minutes and check again. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've found leaks at the union between the meter and the water service AFTER the city has come out and installed a new meter. I've also seen where a new upsized meter is installed with old piping (namely Galvanized), and the larger volume of water caused all kinds of crud to come loose, rust, mineral build up, what have you and that created plugged water lines to toilet valves, shower valves etc. causing them to constantly run and/or drip. It will also scour the inside of some old piping just enough to find those pinhole leaks that were plugged up by rust. I'd also check and make sure they aren't charging you for an upgraded meter size, even if it was a mistake, they'll charge you for it. I would think that being government they would be required under law to check that meter and make sure it's reading correctly. If you aren't having any luck with your city then I would contact your states Weights and Measures department and file a complaint.

  6. #6
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I'm with Jerome on this one. The most common cause is a toilet running. Turn off the main valve for 5 min. then turn it back on. If you here water moving through the system you have a leak or a toilet running.


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