Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The cost of water...Part 2

It's been just over 24 hours since my near panic attack (AKA opening my water bill) and I've been working through the items on my "Must Save Water NOW!" list.

Still brushing with the water off.  Bright and early, I was on the phone with the Meter Division of the City of Chicago to get someone out to look at my meter (still hoping that there was something wrong with the meter) but alas no.  The nice lady was kind enough to tell me that my water meter had been running constantly since...wait for it... JUNE!!!!!!  At this point, the bubble above my head is  "and no one bother to tell me?"  According to my Dad,  the nice folks over at Indiana American Water Company were kind enough to send him a letter because they saw an increase in his water usage.  Which prompted him to check for water leaks.  But I guess that is an example of Hoosier Nice.

So on to hunt for leaks. Mr. Burris, my plumber, came out and we checked my boiler (which I can honestly say is older than me) and made a few adjustments but that water meter was still spinning (a littler slower but still going).  For those you, who may not be aware, your water meter, like an electric or gas meter only runs when you're actually using water.  On to checking for leaks in the apartments.  I wasn't expecting to find anything because my tenants are good about letting me know when something isn't right.  But sure enough, the second apartment I checked had a toilet that was running, and running, and running.  As soon as we cut off the water to the toilet that good old meter stop spinning!

Turns out the flapper (an inexpensive item) wasn't working, allowing water to keep flowing into the bowl without end.  Being a prepared owner, I grabbed one from my inventory and Mr. Burris installed it for me (yes, I could have done this myself but he was here so...).  

Flapper replaced, we did a quick check and guess what?  Water meter is completely stopped.

With these leaks addressed, I fully expect my water bill in March to be back to normal.  But what could I have done to prevent this from happening in the first place?  You see the adage "an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies.  Here are a few tips you can do to keep your water meter from spinning out of control:

  1. Look for leaks - next time your looking for something under your cabinets check to see if your pipes or the area right below them are wet.  If the cabinet floor is wrapped you may have a leak.
  2. Listen for your toilet - when you flush it should take no more than 30 seconds or so for the tank to refill.  If it's longer than that and you're jiggling the handle to make it stop that meter is probably spinning.
  3. Inspect your units - as a landlord you can't rely in your tenants to bring something to your attention because they may not have the knowledge to know when something is wrong.
Next post...Flushing based on content