Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

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bofusmosby
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by bofusmosby »

I have a good friend of mine that is a plumber. He has now given that up, and works solely with leak detection. He has all the professional equipment that includes a high gain microphone that when put against the ground, you can actually hear the water when it is located above where the leak is. You need to get this taken care of quick. The "leak" can actually cause a sinkhole of considerable size, and if it is located under your house, this could mean BIG TROUBLE. Check in your local phone book, or google "Leak Detection" in your area.
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pqtex
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by pqtex »

You should be able to get a refund from your water company once you show proof you have repaired a leak. You fill out a form and send either a copy of the bill from your plumber or receipts from the store for plumbing supplies. They will estimate what your regular bill would have been and refund at least part of the higher amount of the months you had the leak. At least our city water department does this. Worth checking into, at least.
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Clayton
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by Clayton »

I'll never forget my $1,200 water bill when I was accustomed to $40/month. My house was dry, crawl space was dry, the toilet was not constantly filling/flowing, the yard was dry and the grass was not particularly green anywhere either. My meter was in the front corner of the lot near the driveway and the sidewalk. In the end I found out that I had a 'leak' just a few feet on my side of the meter. The water found the gravel in the road bed and never made it to the surface. My sidewalk was dry and my driveway did not show any clues either. In the end, I replaced the entire supply line from the meter to the house.

In retrospect, I'm convinced that the roofers I'd had at the house a month or two before had run over the water line (and possible the actual meter) when they were hauling the three layers of asphalt shingles out of my yard.

I called the water company, I was issued a case number, I sent in my proof of a leak documenting that it did not go into the sewer system and that it had been fixed. I kept paying the 'typical' monthly rate of $40/month and did not pay the big bill. I kept worrying that my water would be turned off and my credit would be impacted for not paying this huge bill month after month while my 'case' was being reviewed. I had heard of people being required to pay 'about half' of the bill in these instances. I believe this happens if your leak ends up in the sewer system and you have to pay that portion. It took about six months before I received a water bill with a normal balance on the statement. The charges associated with the leak were forgiven entirely.
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steponmebbbboom
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by steponmebbbboom »

Was this issue ever resolved?

The water meter measures flow across it. Therefore, shutting off the water service at the street will ALWAYS shut your meter off. The meter was installed to measure how much water you use. The municipality will not install a street shutoff after water has flown through your meter.

That said, there is a shutoff after your meter that shuts all the water off so you can make plumbing repairs. It should be installed right after your meter. If you don't have one, have the municipality shut off your water so you can install one. If your water meter is installed outside and you shut off the water to the house inside, and the meter still runs, the water main has been breached between the meter and the shutoff inside your house.

You cannot use your water meter to detect a breach in the line between the meter and the street. How can the meter detect water that hasn't entered it yet?

You can use a cheap laser thermometer to detect which branch lines inside your house are conducting running water. It's easiest to detect this in the wintertime. Shut off every water-consuming appliance in the house, let the furnace warm up the pipes, then start shooting them with your thermometer. The one with water flowing through it will be noticeably colder than the others, especially if it is consuming 8000 gallons a month. Follow it in the direction of flow and keep shooting until the pipe is warm again. Whatever pipe is still cold is the one costing you money. Track it down to the leak point. If all the pipes are the same temperature, and the meter is outside your house for some reason, my bet is it has cracked where it enters the house. Yeah, get it fixed before your foundation collapses at that point.
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triguy128
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by triguy128 »

The flow rate is just 0.2 GPM. so all in all, it's a steady flow, but ultimately a smaller leak that could easily be missed. A even jsut a leaky toilet flush valve could cause this. I agree with the previous (real post) that isolating all faucets and using a thermmmeter or even just feeling with your hand if they are accessible should help you find the leak.

I would guess a toilet fill valve and overfilling a toilet, very ,very slowly. Those blue tablets or even just food coloring can help you spot a leaking toilet fllush valve or fill valve. Normal flow wide open on a fill valve is probably about 1.5-2 GPM otherwise.
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Schag
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by Schag »

I guess i should have come back to this and told about the solution.
I found a wet spot by the water meter and dug some.
Turns out that the water was flowing down and under the street keeping me from noticing it in the first place.
I found a small hole in the pipe and called the water company.
They determined that the leak was on their side of the meter and came out the next day and fixed the whole thing.
I even got a credit on my bill that covered about 5 months of extra water.
Happy Ending! :P

Daniel Meyer
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by Daniel Meyer »

Cool! Glad you got it fixed! We had a similar incident last year at our suburban blah house. Water was running through the bottom of the meter box and into the storm sewer without every surfacing.
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Don M
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by Don M »

We had a similar situation in our second house but it was all on us. A pipe under the kitchen broke but I only found out when I received a $350 electric bill which was usually about $50 a month! I asked my neighbor to see if the A/C was set too high. He discovered the well pump wasn't shutting off & then found the leak. I had to get Service Master to dry out the area under the kitchen, had to replace the hardwood floor, a granite countertop & rebuild the sink cabinet due to warping of the floor from the leak. Now we turn off the water when we are not there! :evil:
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Texas_Ranger
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by Texas_Ranger »

Schag wrote:I guess i should have come back to this and told about the solution.
I found a wet spot by the water meter and dug some.
Turns out that the water was flowing down and under the street keeping me from noticing it in the first place.
I found a small hole in the pipe and called the water company.
They determined that the leak was on their side of the meter and came out the next day and fixed the whole thing.
I even got a credit on my bill that covered about 5 months of extra water.
Happy Ending! :P
If the leak was on the utility side of the meter, how could the meter have registered the extra flow?!?
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Schag
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Re: Big water leak...a complete freaking mystery!

Post by Schag »

If the leak was on the utility side of the meter, how could the meter have registered the extra flow?!?
It was on the pigtail pipe just past the meter that connects to my line.

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