Water heater and high gas usage question

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Njbossfan, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. Njbossfan

    Njbossfan New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Just moved into a one bedroom apartment. We received our first full month utility bill (actual meter reading) and to me the gas usage seems incredibly high at 114.8 therms. The only thing in this apartment that's gas (summer so heat isn't on) is the water heater and there are 2 showers taken per day. Laundry once a week (cold water only...dryer is electric) and dishwasher once a week. From what I'm reading this is about 80 therms or so too high. A call to the utility company resulted in nothing. Maintenance said they don't see any issues and don't detect a gas leak. I checked the room where the water heater is and the heater thermostat is set to a normal level. The only odd thing I can see is there is some evidence of water under the pan...not in it...just under it (see attachment). I ran the showers and don't see any drips so I'm not sure where it's coming from. I checked the gas meter each day and it's showing about 3 units per day being used so it's wasn't a bad meter reading. Does anyone have any advice? Would this amount of water leaking cause that high of gas usage? I'm stuck and not sure what to do next...any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Attached Files:

  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    Do you have your own water meter as well? WHere do the water lines run? If they run underneath in a concrete slab, you may have a water leak, and as a result are constantly heating water as it is lost into the ground. This is probably the most common situation when the WH is using more fuel than it should...it's heating a LOT of water! If you do have your own water meter, make sure everything in the apartment is off, then watch the meter to see if it is still turning. It's not unheard of for your hot water to be plumbed to maybe the laundry for others to use. If you shut the inlet of your hot water off, see if anyone complains they do not have any hot water! After you've used some hot water, eventually, if there's no flow, the pipes after the tank will cool off. If there's a leak, they will stay warm/hot forever. So, maybe in the morning before anyone uses the shower - go down and feel the pipes...they should gradually get cooler as you go away from the WH.

    Do you have any parts of the floor where it seems warm? This may not be easy to tell depending on the coverage, especially in the summertime (it might become more obvious in the winter).
  3. Njbossfan

    Njbossfan New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Lots of good advice there...unfortunately I don't see a water meter anywhere outside (might be locked in their maint room) and while we are on the ground floor, the pipes run up through the ceiling of the water heater room. Don't see any water leaks in the ceiling anywhere.
  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,229
    Location:
    IL
    Another test you could try, after your showers, turn off the gas to the water heater. Check the gas meter to see that there is no usage being registered until you turn the gas back on.. If there is no pilot, you could just turn off the water heater at the water heater. With no pilot, no gas should be being used.


    If you have a pilot light in the water heater, remember to light it again after you turn the gas off.
  5. Njbossfan

    Njbossfan New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Will try this tomorrow morning and check the meter before and after work. Thanks.
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,347
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Remember this is a rental apartment and the landlord is responsible for plumbing including the water heater. Don't take it upon yourself to do any repairs.
  7. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    2,837
    Location:
    01609
    It's pretty common in apartment buildings to have gas plumbing not correctly metered, and it's possible you may be paying for someone else's gas useage in addition to your own. Inspecting where the gas is routed from your meter and verifying that only YOUR appliances are attached is a good starting place.

    Similarly, inspecting the hot water distribution from your water heater to verify that it goes only to your apartment would be in order, if possible.

    If not inspectable, turning off the gas to water heater for a few days and seeing if any of the other tenants are out of water or other gas use would work.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Just read the dials on the water meter in the morning, and then when you come home to see if any gas was used during the day.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Cannot edit the posting so change it to read "gas meter".
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    If the only thing in your apartment that may run during the day is the WH, then turning it off would let you monitor the gas meter to see if any is being used. If you didn't turn the WH off, it might need to turn on during the day to overcome any standby losses, and then you'd see the meter readings change, regardless of water use.
  11. why not just go away for the weekend and shut off the gas at your meter??

    if you come home and find it turned back on , then you know for sure that their was a
    complaint from someone else in the building and the maintaince guys came out and "fixed"
    the problem...

    If they say something to you about it,
    you can always plead innocent until proven guilty for shutting it off
  12. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,121
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    So if I get it right you are using 11400 cubic feet per month ?

    Sounds like someone is reading the wrong meter, or I can not do math.

    Or you are the Landlord.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Few "modern" water heaters would lose enough heat during the day to require "topping" it off.
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,615
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    That bill equates to about 150 cu.ft. per hour ans since a typical water heater uses about 40 cu. ft. per hour, it would be almost impossible for that one appliance to create that bill, unless there is a major leak somewhere.
  15. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,121
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    That is what I was thinking.

    If it is a leak, guess it will be on the news soon.

    Only the Landlord gets the bill for the Main Meter.
  16. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,000
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    In 2012 I used 12.4 Therms on my August billing for gas. Tank water heater.
    In 2013 I used 3.1 Therms after switching to tankless. Gas bill $13.38
    In 2014 I used 7.4 Therms. Either my son turned up the heat in the house a few days, or someone is taking longer showers.
    My gas bill this month, $18.71

    Februay 2014 was 116.5 Therms which also include space heating with a gas furnace in the Seattle area.
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