Water dept. installed wrong size device (meter)

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Helen92253, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. Helen92253

    Helen92253 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    La Quinta, CA
    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!
    Helen
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,360
    Location:
    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. Gsalet

    Gsalet George the Plumber

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    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. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    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. Inspektor Ludwig

    Inspektor Ludwig Journeyman/Inspector

    Messages:
    167
    Location:
    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. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    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.

    John
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,843
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    IF a meter is going to read wrong, it will usually UNDER record the amount used. It is almost impossible to record more water than flows through it. The difference in price between the "correct meter", whatever that is, and an incorrect one, would be due to the basic charge for each size. I doubt that you have a "5/8 supply line" to the building, and it would have taken them a great deal of work, and usually some digging, to change from a 5/8 meter to anything larger than a 3/4" one.
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The steady increase over 4 months would suggest a leak...a big one. Could be toilets, or underground. For what that water is costing, you can get a leak detecion company in to do a survey.
  9. Helen92253

    Helen92253 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    La Quinta, CA
    Solved!

    Solved! Solved! Thanks so much to all of you who replied with advice. Yes, we had tested for leaks before contacting the water department, and I was at the end of the checklist of things that could be wrong. When we discovered that the wrong size device was installed, we hoped that would explain the huge increase of water bills. The water department called today to tell me that they tested the device and it is reading approximately 3.7 times more usage than actual. Finally, something that isn't my fault! My sincere thanks again to you all.
    Helen
  10. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,360
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I glad the problem is resolved, but it was not the size of the meter, it was a defective meter that gave an improper reading.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,843
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    And it must have have had an electronic metering device, since the common meters have a "postive displacement" rotor and a gear drive which CANNOT spin faster than the water going through it.
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