A strange circumstance

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Old 01-14-17, 04:07 PM
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A strange circumstance

First let me admit that my knowledge of things electrical stopped with Michael Faraday, and yet I have a suspicion that in my recent encounter with a professional, the professional may have been mistaken. I'd like you guys to adjudicate the matter.

Here's what happened.

First, a tiny bit of background. Some years ago, remote water meters were installed in my area, which were connected by a wire to the actual water meter in the basement, and the Water Dept person could read the meter without having to enter the house, by physically placing a device against the remote access point. Now the local Water Dept. is installing automated meters that are to be located on the outside of the house where the remote meter was, but the new device will have a radio transmitter that, when activated by a passing truck, will transmit the meter reading. I'm sure almost everyone in this forum is familiar with all that, but I felt it necessary to lay it out in light of what just happened.

So, last week, the Water Dept guy came to install the automated meter. After going to the basement and running some water to verify that the meter itself was attached and that I wasn't cheating the Water Dept (!), he went to the remote meter on the front of the house, attached a computer, and tried to get a signal. But he failed. He immediately told me that the wiring between the meter in the basement and the front of the house must be defective and had to be replaced, and that he would go down to the basement to verify that fact. When back in the basement, he placed a device on the water meter that he said would enable him to determine whether the meter itself was transmitting its electrical signal to the remote point at the front of the house. As a result of that test, he told me two things: 1) The meter was NOT transmitting any signal to the front of the house, and had to be replaced. 2) The wiring between the basement meter and the front of the house was defective and also had to be replaced.

I immediately said, "Wait a second. If the meter in the basement is not transmitting any signal, how do you know that there's anything wrong with the wire between the basement and the front of the house? It seems to me that only once you replace the meter in the basement and try to transmit a signal to the front of the house will you know whether or not the wire is intact or defective."

Well, the Water Dept guy said that I was wrong, that he checked the wire from that end (i.e. in the basement) and he could tell that it was defective. Note: At no time did he attach a device to the end of the wire in the basement that would transmit a signal, and then go back to the front of the house and try to detect the signal there. When I pointed that out, he said he didn't have to do that, that he could determine the wire was defective by measuring something only at the basement end of it. That didn't seem right to me, but of course I could be mistaken.

My request to the DIYers is to sort all this out for me. What is the real story of what happened at my house last week? I would certainly like to avoid a rewiring if it's not necessary, and I'd also just like to know if what the Water Dept guy told me was correct or not.
 
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Old 01-14-17, 04:32 PM
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Welcome to the forums! The meter belongs to the water department, as does the wiring and the remote transmitter. Regardless of what they think is wrong, it is up to them to do the replacement in a workmanship like manner. No skin off your pocketbook.

Now, if you are worried about being billed for water used and not metered, it would be a cold day befoer I would pay a dime. They can't substantiate usage. Only that their equipment is faulty.
 
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Old 01-14-17, 04:35 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

All we could do is offer a lot of speculation. If that guy was like the guys in my town on the water department.... he had no idea what he was checking. When you replace everything... you have all the bases covered.

Even if the meter wasn't transmitting..... it was still reading and should have had a reading on it.
 
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Old 01-14-17, 05:09 PM
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Thank you for the welcoming words, Pjmax and chandler

Yes, Pjmax, the meter did have a reading on it-- that wasn't an issue. And chandler, it isn't a matter of being billed-- the city doesn't charge the homeowner for meter installation, etc.

But I want to minimize the time I miss from work, and so I want to avoid any unnecessary and time-consuming repairs.

Do either of you guys have an opinion about whether what the Water Dept guy said made any scientific sense?-- i.e. about his being able to determine simply by placing a device at the basement end that the wire was defective and not capable of transmitting any signal from the basement to the front of the house, without his actually sending a signal from the basement and trying to detect it at the front of the house?
 
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Old 01-14-17, 05:18 PM
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He could have been checking resistance via an ohm meter. But he would have to know what the criteria reading should be, and I doubt, based on the diagnosis thusfar, he had any idea as to what the baseline resistance would be.

Bottom line, I would allow them to change it all out and be done with it. It should only require one visit, minimizing your down time.
 
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Old 01-14-17, 05:42 PM
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I have to agree. He'd be measuring resistance.

Usually the wire between the meter and outside is very short.
When they came to my house.... I had the wire already run for the guy. It was fished thru the wall and came out in the wall outside.
 
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Old 01-14-17, 05:47 PM
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Checking for continuity is possible without a transmitter, but on end would need to be shorted together to test.
 
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