Terribly high water bills, no leaks found…arrrggg!

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Modrob

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My sister and her 16-year-old daughter live in a duplex (separate water meters, my niece and her daughter live next door and have no water bill issues) and have in the last 3-4 months received outrageous water bills. (WV American) They’ve been there over two years, and their usual usage has been around 2700 gallons a month.
This past July they filled a small stand-alone pool and had to add a little every-so-often thru Sept. But those bills were as expected—about 7800 gal for two months. Pool came down in September, but in October billing went to near 10,800 gal., Nov. 8,300 gal., and this month of December a whopping 13,300 gal. Her bill this month said their daily usage was “459 gallons”! (Just the two of them and they are not extravagant at all in their water use)
She received a letter on Dec. 22, advising of their “responsibility to give all information to help manage water use”, and that they “recently saw an increase in water use, which surpassed 200% and $200 when compared to the prior month. We also identified a similar disparity when compared to the prior year’s use for this property. We have verified the meter reading to confirm accuracy…”
A technician came out and gave a look, and said that his tablet showed time periods when no water moved, and other periods when it ran. Seemed to coincide with no activity during the times they were at work and school. He suggested the toilet—we did the water dye test and no leaking occurred. All sinks, faucets, pipes, etc. were fine too. No signs of water anywhere inside or outside. Yesterday I went and pulled the cover off the meter and found the Badger Model 25 with the little red spin indicator. (It did not budge the whole time I was there and I even had them turn on some water so I could verify.
Water company insists there is a leak somewhere but nothing can be found…
The intermittent thing the tech spoke of—I can that for the right reasons. But nothing has changed here in their normal living. And it’s a small place with one small bath, kitchen, and washer. Outside spigot is fine—no leaks around it nor under the house. AND for a leak that big, I would think that spinner indicator would be spinning constantly. I did take a pic of the meter reading while there, so I’ll get another one in a day or two and look at that.
Over 500 dollars for two months water bills!
Can anyone suggest what else I might look into before I get on the phone and lose my mind?
Thanks much!
 

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Reach4

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You are doing the right things.

Is there a softener or backwashing filter? Is there a reverse osmosis system? Is there a humidifier?

Have your sister take a photo of the meter before leaving for many hours. See if there is movement. It could be possible that some water for the neighbor is being supplied via your sister's meter. Not common. It is also possible that the meters are each feeding the other unit. So checking that her flow indicator moves while you use a bit of water.
 

Modrob

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You are doing the right things.

Is there a softener or backwashing filter? Is there a reverse osmosis system? Is there a humidifier?

Have your sister take a photo of the meter before leaving for many hours. See if there is movement. It could be possible that some water for the neighbor is being supplied via your sister's meter. Not common. It is also possible that the meters are each feeding the other unit. So checking that her flow indicator moves while you use a bit of water.
No, nothing else involved in the system. Just a small duplex owned by sister and my niece, each with a daughter. Located out in rural area but other houses nearby. Old area, about as basic as it gets…
The niece’s side, water bill has been normal the whole period. I found both meters outside (although a bit odd that there is about 30 feet between them…I think maybe the house was converted from single family to duplex in years past.) Also, there’s a lot of open grass yard behind the house and a secondary road runs by the side of the house, about 30 feet away…the meters are alongside that road. A main highway runs in front, about 40 feet away…
I took a pic last night and hoping she can get a pic taken again shortly for comparison.
 

Jeff H Young

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ok so its a a electronic meter and usage can be checked 24 7 so I suggest next step as checking pressure maybe pressure goes sky high and a leak occurs than stops when it drops to normal ? Tand p on water heater will do this monitor that at the end . that hasent been mentioned
 

Modrob

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ok so its a a electronic meter and usage can be checked 24 7 so I suggest next step as checking pressure maybe pressure goes sky high and a leak occurs than stops when it drops to normal ? Tand p on water heater will do this monitor that at the end . that hasent been mentioned
The WH is under the house and from what they tell me, no signs of any water around it or elsewhere. But I’ll look at hooking up a gauge and monitor it soon.
 

Jeff H Young

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And you have been to the house and confirmed any of this . some people aree pretty clueless about plumbing and wouldnt notice a toilet running or other issues not knocking them they just dont think in mechanical ways. whoever pays the water bill might notice. meantime someone needs to look under the house
your water companie should be able to provide further info on exactly when water is being used to the minute if its like my water company at least I belive its that accurate.
 

Modrob

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And you have been to the house and confirmed any of this . some people aree pretty clueless about plumbing and wouldnt notice a toilet running or other issues not knocking them they just dont think in mechanical ways. whoever pays the water bill might notice. meantime someone needs to look under the house
your water companie should be able to provide further info on exactly when water is being used to the minute if its like my water company at least I belive its that accurate.
All very true Jeff. But yes, I was there yesterday evening and investigated thoroughly and no signs of anything. Also, my niece next door has a boyfriend that works for a plumber (he’s pretty good but maybe a little on the lazy side ) and he’s looked all over, and under, and hasn’t found any signs either. For the last several hours I’ve been pouring over all her billing info to see if something is amiss.
We did get a pic tonight of the meter reading again—50 gallons since last night about 7pm. The girls woke this morning, one took a bath, and their usual bathroom visits, and then came to my house for today and tonight. Even at 100 gallons/day, this would be more in line with their previous average of 2200–2500 per month, as opposed to the 13,300, 8,800, 10,100, 6,200, 7,900 from previous months…
 

Jeff H Young

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Modrob, thats a lot of time youve put in . maybe Im not clear is this a standard meter or electronic you mentioned a tech looking at his tablet ? have customer service get on phone with you Theyll tell you at 3 am water ran constent for 3 hours or whatever . only thing you are finding out looking at meter now is everything is normal if its electronic youll get info that might help
 

Modrob

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Modrob, thats a lot of time youve put in . maybe Im not clear is this a standard meter or electronic you mentioned a tech looking at his tablet ? have customer service get on phone with you Theyll tell you at 3 am water ran constent for 3 hours or whatever . only thing you are finding out looking at meter now is everything is normal if its electronic youll get info that might help
The bills recently show they were read by “AMI Read by HES” or “AMI read by C4E”…my searching on these terms showed the new digital/remote systems. And the Badger model (I posted a pic earlier) information shows it transmits the info—it mentions that the customer can also reach the data and keep up with it down to short periods of time. So far I’ve not found this function with WV Water. I’m anxious to get into a call to them this week as soon as they open to get more answers. I’d really like to talk to the tech that came out—I feel like I could get a lot more directly from him and his “tablet”. But I’m still digging deeper until then…I can barely stand to have to wait for answers—I’d love to have them now! LOL
 

Modrob

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The girls stayed at our house until early evening Monday. Just before they left, I had the niece next door get me another pic of the meter. It showed no change at all from the previous reading of last evening! And the spinner was still as well…
For the time being, they will be keeping a record of any time they use water, and more meter readings. I have gotten more info from her account on the web. I was hoping I could see the use of last few hours or so, but so far all I can access is for a 24 hour period two days back…
More to come…
 

Modrob

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I’m attaching the latest screenshot that shows the latest usage information for 24 hours.
What’s really striking is the period from about 4:30 to 5, 3800 gallons to run one washing machine cycle. My wife and I arrived just after to investigate more, and the only water run from then up to about 7 when we left was two short faucet spurts so I could find correct meter and the ensure flow indicator worked. Also, notice the 3am slot…a couple hundred gallons—they were sleeping and neither used the toilet during the night…
 

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Jeff H Young

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my toilet flapper has been sticking every once in a while dye test dosent mean anything you flush toilet and it keeps running. you dont flush it its ok
3800 gallons in a half hour dosent sound right ? . I could see x 10 but times 100 on the chart ? you confirmed this on the meter ? Im not understanding
 

JohnCT

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Agree on the wayward flapper. They can sometimes hang in mid air for hours and then decide to drop down and seal. Make sure everyone is made aware that the toilet might continue to run after the leave the can.

John
 
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