Finding Water Leaks

I have 52 homes and 18 vacant homes in my Ohio park and we bill about $2100/mo and our bill is usually around $2300. Two months ago the water bill was suddenly $8000. We fixed a very big obvious leak under a home and 2 other small ones and thought we got it. This morning’s bill is $6800 so we still have big problems.

First I’m going to do a more thorough inspection below every (Vacant) home. Then I’ll bring in American Leak Detection. I had them in last year when we had problems and we got it fixed. The park has big lots and clay pipes. About 25% of it has been replaced with PVC. We are on city water and city sewer.

Does anyone have any insight on what else I can be doing?

NOTE - We have Metron Meters

I’ve been reading through archives and have gotten some good ideas about how to find leaks. I’ll keep you all posted on how it proceeds.

Were clay pipes only used for sewer or did they have a supply line version also? I always thought supply was galvanized back then and just sewer was clay. Then copper and PVC came along.

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Sound like you are perfect candidate for sub-metering.

PVC will make it more difficult finding future leaks. Hard to hear for leaks with PVC.

Look into putting a Metron master meter so you know what the park is using daily. If that’s not possible have someone read the city meter daily. We put in shutoffs to isolate roads for water leak troubleshooting. Also look at the meter bases under homes. The Metron bases aren’t very durable in cold weather(I put that nicely). You could have a leak on the input side and not read it. Check all pits under vacant homes and vacant lots. Hope that helps.

So I have Metron meters at each home now.

I guess I am unaware about Metron Master meters. So they sell Meters for the pipe that delivers all the waterʔ Costʔ

I can’t read the city water meter even though it’s on park property. It’s a weird setup. The company (Buckeye Water District) has a water monopoly in the area and they have a master meter on park property, but it’s under lock and key. From there it runs 50’ to my master meter. My maintenance man says we used to have access to their master meter and he was even allowed to repair busted pipes there, but then they put a locked cover on it about 3 years ago. A year later we bought the park.

We have clay pipes for sewer, and I THOUGHT we had clay pipes for water, but I could be wrong. I’ll look into it.

We sub-meter now with Metron meters. For about a year our water bills were fine but the past two months have kicked our butts.

Yes you are right. We have PVC water lines throughout the park except the dead end on the last street.
Clay sewer lines.

Yea they sell a master meter. It’s based on pipe size. We bought for a 2” main. I believe it was between $1500-2000 in Nov 22.

I recently had a similar problem. Best I’ve figured it turns out the city master meter has been under-billing. No leaks. The only way to figure it out is to monitor both the sum of the individual meters and the master meter, to hourly or even 5 min intervals 24 hrs/day. I’d go to the water company and tell them you can’t afford to pay them $6,000/mo and need their help to solve the problem. $6,000/mo is what, 1 million gallons a month? 34 residents should be more like 100-150k Gal/mo. max. The water Co. likely wouldn’t like 800,000 G/mo in excess consumption.

Agreed you need to install a Metron master meter right on your side of the municipality’s master meter for the park. And agreed with above regarding pricing of $1500 or so from Metron depending on size. Absolutely worth it.

This is a great idea. Thanks.

Before you panic, check out the meter read dates vs the date you fixed the leak.

We had a BIG leak that we Fixed. Only to get another HUGE bill the following month.
We fixed the leak mid-cycle, so we still had to pay for the water from the Read date to the Read date.

IE Read Dates are the 15th of Each Month.
December 15 is billed on January 1st.

The leak Starts on December 20th.

Meters are Read again on January 15th. You get the Big Bill on Feb 1st.
You fix the leak on Feb 10th.

Meters are read again on Feb 15th.
You then get another HUGE bill for the leak that went on from January 15th to Feb 15th
This big bill shows up on March 1st.

I hope that makes sense.

In the meantime take a daily read of the water meter. You can use that to compare your daily usage to last year’s (if you owned the park) daily usage.

Moving forward have your staff read the Master water meter every Friday and/or install the metron master meter.

Also, ask your water company if they have a leak forgiveness program. I have found that some water districts will give you forgiveness every so often so long as you prove you fixed the leak.

I’m going to install a Metron master meter.

Yes your timeline makes sense.

I’ll ask about a leak-forgiveness program but I doubt it because they have not been helpful so far. They are not the city but a private utility who has kind of a monopoly.

Thanks for the input.

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Maybe I’m missing something, but the master meter doesn’t seem like it would help at all in this case. Basically, it would just be verifying that the utility company’s meter isn’t broken. Occam’s razor is that one (or more) of the lines is leaking.

Not saying that the utility company’s equipment is infallible, I just think it is low likelihood of being the problem and then you’re back to “OK, so how do I find the leak?”

I now have metron meters on each home. I also have meters on some vacant homes. But these meters only measure the water that flows through the meters. My problem is that I may have a leak in the main line. With a Metron Master Meter at least I would know immediately that there is a serious leak. I have my own master meter 100 feet away from their meter but it reads in cubic feet of water. I am an offsite manager. My maintenance man is good but he is having serious health issues and his health is fading. I can’t really ask him to pull off that heavy metal cover anymore and get that reading.

Another issue is the park USED to have access the master meter for the water company for many years before I bought the park. The park maintenance man would check their meter and it would occasionally have a leak. He would call them and fix their pipe for free. Then they put a locked cover on it. Soon after we took over 2 years ago my bill went from $2,000 to $9,000. I had American Leak Detection comb the park and we fixed up several leaks. The next months bill was $7,000. We found a few more leaks. Then I wrote them a letter asking for access to their meter saying we thought it was THEIR meter that was leaking. Immediately our bill dropped back down to $2,000. It just seemed suspicious.

So you are right I would still have to find the leak but at least I would know immediately when I may have a main line leak.