large water usage spikes


  #1  
Old 07-15-11, 03:25 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
large water usage spikes

I recently bought an 80 year old house. Currently there is only one occupant. The water company is telling me that on a couple days this month, the usage was 800+ gallons for the day. All the other days the usage is very minimal and in line for 1 person's usage.

What kind of problem could lead to this pattern of usage? If it was a very large leak, wouldn't it be continuous, every day? (and hopefully noticeable?) I haven't noticed anything that would lead to so much water being used.

However I'm rarely home. Is it possible for a toilet to spontaneously wake up and start flushing itself for hours on end? When I am there I have not noticed any slow leaks in any of the toilets due to valve/flapper problems.

Thanks in advance.
 
  #2  
Old 07-15-11, 03:43 PM
Gunguy45's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 21,110
Received 5 Likes on 5 Posts
No sprinkler system I assume? You can always shut off the toilet before you leave...but no..they don't just suddenly start acting up every once in a while (not in my experience).

Someone is probably tapping your water...since you are rarely home. Probably to water their lawn or fill a big tank of some sort.

Might be they don't even know they are doing it if the plumbing is messed up somehow from a previous owner.
 
  #3  
Old 07-15-11, 03:50 PM
Luana's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 146
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How are they reading the meter to be able to determine the spikes on a daily basis? Any water utility that I am aware of uses totalizing meters that are read either monthly or every other month.
 
  #4  
Old 07-15-11, 04:22 PM
D
Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 4,946
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Are you the one occupant or are you renting it to someone? Can they tell you exactly which days this occurred? If so, were they the hottest days of the month?

My meter is read once per quarter.
 
  #5  
Old 07-15-11, 04:47 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the replies!

Nope, no sprinkler system.

There's some kind of remote reader, so the water company is able to tell me exactly which days and exactly how much was used on that day. So there were two days when the usage was almost 800 gallons. And almost all the rest of the days it's pretty normal, with one day being 200+ as well.

The 1 occupant is a tenant in a small basement apartment, but they said they can't imagine how that much water got used. Even leaving on the two faucets and shower for some strange reason, would take a while to use up 800 gallons, no?

So this can't be because of some haunted toilet? And if it was some kind of leak, it wouldn't just happen sporadically like that right? Plus also I would notice 800 gallons of water dumped somewhere in the house, correct?

For further clarification, I did say I am rarely there but I meant I'm never there during the day. I have been visiting the house in the evenings for an hour or two each time.
 
  #6  
Old 07-15-11, 06:25 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 37 Likes on 29 Posts
800 gallons over a 24 hour period could be a half-gallon a minute continuous usage. If your utility is able to track usage to a single day ask them if they can track it closer than 24 hour periods. Five gallons per minute continuously for two hours is 600 gallons. It could be as simple as your tenant running the shower for two hours for some unknown reason.
 
  #7  
Old 07-15-11, 06:47 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 18,190
Received 78 Likes on 70 Posts
Hi,

Flappers can be sporatic. Meaning, leak with one fush but stop leaking on another flush. Plus a Furd stated, a long shower can use that much water. Some people take a few showers a day if they are really OCD.

Use some dye in the toilet tanks to be sure.

Why dont you just ask the tenant about the high water usage? If your worried about the water bill tell the tenant you may need to raise the rent because of it or something like that.. I am sure he may stop doing what he is doing.

Otherwise I cant think of anything else. Some people may try to piss off the landlords. Possibly he just goes in the bathroom and runs the tub all day.



Mike NJ
 
  #8  
Old 07-15-11, 07:44 PM
Z
Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,660
Received 87 Likes on 81 Posts
Iíve used several hundred gallons a day, and on just a few of the month, when I was watering a bunch of new 7 foot trees.
 
  #9  
Old 07-15-11, 07:56 PM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 10,540
Received 44 Likes on 40 Posts
Furd's math looks like the candidate to me. A low flow shower head can be 2.5 gallons per minute. If your shower still has one of the old style or even those huge rain shower heads, I would easily imagine 5 or more gallons per minute.

Another strange occurrence that lingers in the back of my mind was a case where a washing machine drain had been adapted (taped) to a drain line without a vent. Once it emptied and went back into a fill cycle it would sometimes get stuck in a siphon mode and be filling and draining at the same time. Never quite figured it out, but proper plumbing resolved the problem. Friend of a friend.

Bud
 
  #10  
Old 07-16-11, 12:04 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, I have spoken to the tenant about it and he said that while sometimes he uses a bit more water when cleaning, he didn't do anything that approaches keeping the shower on for hours. So far I don't have any reason to believe that he did just to spite me and is lying about it, but I guess I never know.

I understand that a toilet flapper can be a bit wonky, but unless the toilet just wakes up while I'm not there and starts flushing itself for hours, this doesn't seem to be the culprit. (Tenant also said he never observed this happening in his apartment.) I'll try shutting off the water for the toilets just in case tho.

Possibly I'll have to explore other possibilities such as someone using my hose to hose down the whole block.

What I guess I want to make sure of tho is whether I should be concerned about some huge leak somewhere that somehow has gone unnoticed. And only happened twice in a month. This is unlikely, yes?

Thanks for all the continued replies, this is a useful forum. Hopefully one day I can find myself on the contributing side.
 
  #11  
Old 07-16-11, 08:18 AM
D
Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 4,946
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A 2.5 gpm shower head running for 5 1/3 hours will get you 800 gallons. The idea about the toiler flapper isn't a bad one. Ask the tenant if they ever noticed the toilet running for a long time. I would suspect an 800 gallon leak would be very noticeable. So I don't think its that. Change your hose bibs to the ones that need a bib key to use. That'll solve the possibility of someone hooking up and taking your water.
 
  #12  
Old 07-16-11, 09:17 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
Your tennant doesn't have a cat does he? http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8267551933860088449
 
  #13  
Old 07-16-11, 10:55 AM
B
Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 10,540
Received 44 Likes on 40 Posts
Ray, I love the cat!

The problem with the super long shower might be the hot water supply.

If the water company can see the excess usage in real time, can they set an alarm to notify you?

Bud
 
  #14  
Old 07-18-11, 09:12 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Haha. The tenant has a dog but I don't think it's coordinated enough to flush a toilet 200 times in a row

Regarding a super long shower, I don't think he's even there during the day long enough. So unless he left it on and went to work, or overnight, I think it's gotta be a very strangely behaving toilet flapper, or someone using my hose ... anyway thanks for the input everyone.
 
  #15  
Old 07-18-11, 09:31 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
Former customer rented out trailer homes. Well and septic tank. He'd drive by to check the property and the whole place would be a swamp from the overflowing septic tank. When he would check out the trailers he would find a running toilet. When he'd ask why they didn't try to stop it or call him they'd just stare blankly or shrug. Not saying you don't have the worlds best tenant but no matter how nice the tenant or no matter what they say don't over look them as a contributing factor.
 
  #16  
Old 07-18-11, 09:39 AM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 37 Likes on 29 Posts
Definitely check with the water utility to see if they can pinpoint the usage to a certain hour during the day. They may not have this ability, the telemetering may be once every 24 hours only.

My bet at this point is that someone is coming by a few times a month and filling a large water tank from your hose.
 
  #17  
Old 07-18-11, 12:35 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
I'm with Furd. Maybe remove and cap the hose bibs. Yes they make faucets that needs a special handle but they are not much deterrent.
 
  #18  
Old 07-18-11, 12:48 PM
Gunguy45's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 21,110
Received 5 Likes on 5 Posts
Well jeez...I said that in the second post....

Happens pretty often out here. People will move in and squat a foreclosed/empty house and either turn water on at the meter or connect via garden hose to someones little used outside spigot when they are not home.

Lots of people haul water out here in the desert and there have been instances of people in a lurch pulling up to isolated homes and filling their 300 gallon tanks from someone with a well or on city water.
 
  #19  
Old 07-18-11, 03:29 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
re: ray2047's story, i know there are all sorts of strange people out there and my tenant can be one of them. but i've definitely had the conversation with him and given what he said it doesn't seem to be him. i suppose it's possible that he's lying and is going nuts with the water just to spite me but at this point that's not the front-running theory in my mind.

yeah, i will look into locking up the spigots. the two days in question were within the first week of closing and i had not yet shown signs of occupying the property. but the thing that does not immediately support the stolen hose theory is the house is on a city block ... everyone has muni water, so what kind of tank would anyone need to have filled? what else would someone need to use so much water for? running a car wash business that i don't know about? filling a kiddie pool? (hmm -- do those come in 800 gallon sizes? )

oh and i'll see if the utility can pinpoint the exact time/day.

thanks for the continued suggestions.
 
  #20  
Old 07-18-11, 04:22 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
Any neighbors have swimming pools?
 
  #21  
Old 07-18-11, 06:08 PM
D
Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 4,946
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Any neighbors have swimming pools?
That was my first thought as well. Perfect time of year to be filling up your pool using the unoccupied house next door. They probably figured 3 hours in the middle of the day when most people aren't home would be perfect. Check Google Earth to see who has the pool nearest you.
 
  #22  
Old 07-19-11, 09:08 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
you know what the funny thing is? there's only one pool nearby ... and it's mine!

have i been sleepwalking and driving over to the house and filling my own pool???

in all seriousness tho, i suppose a neighbor could be using a kiddie pool. but those don't usually hold 800 gallons to they?

(these are small houses with limited space.)
 
  #23  
Old 07-19-11, 09:16 AM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 18,190
Received 78 Likes on 70 Posts
Sure those cheap, mart store intex pools, hold 800 gal plus. Look around in your neigbors yards.

Mike NJ
 
  #24  
Old 07-19-11, 09:45 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,575
Likes: 0
Received 15 Likes on 13 Posts
800 gallons~107 cubic feet. A 12 foot diameter pool 1 foot deep holds 130 cubic feet or ~972 gallons.
 
  #25  
Old 07-20-11, 03:55 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts


I think that must be it then, some neighbor with an 800 gallon kiddie pool. It hasn't happened since.

Thank you all very much for the replies.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: