In response to all the calls and e-mails I’m getting about water meters, I want to pass along a few things I’ve heard.
Readers insist meters, and their automated remote reader systems, are not infallible.
Look for a leak. Start by looking for wet spots in your yard, basement or crawl space. You can also hire a water leak detection expert, although you may need to go to Denver to find one.
Look for a thief. If you live near a construction area, there’s a chance someone simply hooked up a hose to your outdoor faucet and filled a tank. I’ve written about that type of theft. It’s more common than you’d think.
Ask to have the meter tested. It maycost you a service charge. But it’s worth the effort if the bill is high enough. Send the meter to an independent party, such as another utility, for calibration. Or ask your utililty to conduct a side-by-side test installing a second meter next to your original.
Finally, several people warn me about the remote reader systems. Generally, they are reliable in transmitting the meter numbers to the utility. But there are famous incidents where they failed. In Houston in 2007 there was a huge problem and thousands were replaced.
A Side Streets reader in Fountain says the wires of her remote transmitter became frayed and when the bare wires touched, her meter reading surged by 100 gallons.
Others warn than very low flows through the meter can cause them to malfunction. Still others say tiny particles of sand can get into the paddle that turns the meter and cause meter malfunction until the sand becomes dislodged and the meter returns to normal.