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Thread: Moving the Meter

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member RaeEllen's Avatar
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    Default Moving the Meter

    Anyone have any advice for some plumbing novices?

    Our water meter is located about 200 yards (3 blocks from our house) running through two neighbor's yards. We didn't realize the implications of this when we bought the house. There's currently a large leak ($2000/month) worth of water in the service line. (I.e., its not in the meter and when we turn off the water to the house and to the irrigation, the meter is still spinning)

    We've brought in a leak detection company who told us it could be several thousand dollars to simply find the leak. If its in the neighbor's property, its unclear if we even have the right to repair without their permission.

    Meanwhile, the only water we have for our house is coming from a neighbor's hose, as we cannot afford to have this leak running. (The water company has told us we will not be getting a refund.)

    So, our best solutions seems to be to move the meter to the water line directly in front of our house. The city is going to charge us about $2000 to do that. Our first two estimates to connect the meter to our house were $1600 for PVC pipe and $2800 for copper.

    The city is going to take about a month to install a new meter. In the meantime, we're trying to chase down the develper to see if there was any logic to where they placed the meter. We're trying to find if there are any actual codes about how a meter should be placed. We're getting severeal more estimates and trying to determine the best way to hook the water up to the house. We're trying to figure out how to map the water lines in front of the house, so they can possiblely be reused to connect the new meter.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for getting ourselves out of this mess?

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    You have a mess. It is hard to understand why your meter is where it is. You must have a utility easement across the neighbors property, which would include right of access for repair. That easement should show in your deed. Among the issues I see:
    > what if the developer screwed this up and you don't have an easement?
    > what if the leak damages the neighbors property?
    > what if one of your neighbors CAUSED the leak?

    I don't see how you get out of this without a lawyer and a lot of money. It seems like the most direct "out" is to move the meter.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The developer SELDOM decides where to put the meter. The city utility puts it where THEY want to, which is usually on city property as close to the house as possible. Normally, when the meter is that far away it is because that is the closest property without a utility easement to the house. The meter location is NOT governed by a "code", but rather by the utility's rules and regulations. THEY decide where to put it and the developer, and his plumber, runs the water line to that location. You must have "small blocks" because a block is usually 660', or 220 yards.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member RaeEllen's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. It is an expensive mess.

    It's 200 yards to the meter as the crow flys. Our back yard backs onto the backyard of our closest neighbor. Our line travels through their yard and one other to get to the meter located off a main on their street. It's about there blocks to get to their house by car. The main in front if their house was tapped for our water rather than the main in front of our house. Honestly, the only logic I can see for it was cost savings to the develper but I may be cynical by this point. Everyone at the water department we have talked to is boggled by the set-up, but we are certainly open to a logical explanation.

    It seems that the best, and least expensive of very expensive options is to move our meter to the main a mere 10 yards from our house. If anyone has any great ideas about recouping sone of this cost, I'd live to hear it. Our homeowners association did replace a fence next to our property but we do not see a leak at the site. Were debating paying someone to trace the line (we have no idea what it's path is) to see if that could have been the cause. But that's risky.

    And, yes, we are very lucky there is no apparent damage to the neighbor. Another good readin to move the line!
    It seems the "best" solution

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    No way for us to address your problem, but the only times I have seen this happen was when that main was the only accessible one and they had to run from it through the other yards to your propery, (and I have also seen it done with sewer lines). IF there is a main in front of your property, and it was there when the house was built, I cannot see how there could have been ANY COST SAVINGS for the developer. If your facts are correct, the cheapest, and best, option is to pay for a meter relocation, which is usually a fairly inexpensive item since there should be no "development fees" because you will be using the same amount of water. Then abandon the old line, which happens by implication since it will not have a meter on one end, or your house at the other.

    I had a situation once, where my customer's water was coming from an adjacent property and they wanted a large monthly fee or the water line disconnected and connected to a new meter. Either one would have been expensive. BUT, since I had unplugged that person's sewer many years previously, I had my customer tell them that if he could not use their water, they had to "remove" their sewer which went through his properly and connected to his sewer. That would have been even more expensive so everything stayed the way it was.
    Last edited by hj; 07-22-2011 at 10:35 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Is it possible that 'your' meter is supplying water to those neighbors that the line runs through? If you shut if off at the meter (leave it off for a few hours when people would normally be using water), see if anyone complains about not having water.

    When the fence was installed, did they call DigSafe, or whatever it is called in your area? It is typically illegal to dig unless that is done, and the HOA would be responsible for the damages. They may very well have nicked your water line. Depending on the soil, it may dispurse and not show. The HOA may be the culprit. Did the excess water use start after the fence was installed? Is the grass greener in one section verses another? While not an absolute thing, the pipe often is run the shortest distance...so, if you walk from where it enters your house to where the meter is, do you notice anything?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  7. #7
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    You have a very strange situation for sure. Maybe it's not true everywhere, but the usual location of a meter is where the supply line takes off of the city main. I know of other places where the meter is inside the house. I would suggest you should be in touch with an attorney before this gets more messed up. I won't even guess at who's responsible for what here, but there's too much money at stake for you to just bite the bullet. Keep us informed, this is an interesting problem for sure.

  8. #8
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    A outdoor pipe layer that used to be a lawyer or vice versa is what you need.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; outdoor pipe layer that used to be a lawyer

    And do you REALLY think he would admit it? Outdoor pipe layers are usually ethical.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  10. #10
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Good point, but what I mean is he should seek payment from those that screwed up.

  11. #11
    TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP MACPLUMB 777's Avatar
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    This same thing happened at my mothers house in So. Calf. about 30 years ago, her next door neighbors line also ran next to hers so we got permission to cross her property by running her a new pipe at the same time !
    The other owner allowed us easements rights across their property, so to make sure nobody digs up it up by
    mistake we ran it 3' deep in 1" PVC with a copper tracer wire to be able to track the lines in the future
    these property's have since been sold and as far as i know they have still not had problems with the pipes
    Last edited by MACPLUMB 777; 07-24-2011 at 07:31 AM.

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