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 Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Why would my water meter continue to run after water is shut off?

I check water meter. No flow. Red triangle is not turning.
I open a hose bibb on the outside of the house. I check water meter. Red triangle is turning - flow is being measured.
I close the hose bibb. Flow of water from the faucet stops, but I walk back down to the meter and the meter is still turning. For almost an additional 60 seconds.
Why is this happening? What is making the meter turn? Air (but where is it coming from)? Water (but where is it going?)

I have checked for leaks. Once stopped, if nothing is turned on, the meter does not turn. I checked it overnight last weekend and no flow in 8 hours.

I have documented on videotape to fight with the City, but still can't figure out what is happening. The meter apparently is bad, but how could it fail in this way?

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: PlumberManDan (IA)

How far is the meter from the house, and what size pipe do you have coming into the house,is it city water or rural water and what is the static pressure. The meter does STOP according to your post.

PlumbCat TM 2003


Plumbermandan

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Meter is about 70' from the house. House is about 12' higher than the meter. City of Atlanta water. Not sure of street pressure. Have a pressure reducing valve inside the house that brings it down to "normal" pressure.

It does stop, but nearly a minute after the water stops flowing.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Don't know line size - guessing either 1" or 3/4".

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: SMSPlumbing (PA)

I am assuming that you mean the red triangle continues? Could be that the water is filling your system until the pressure equalizes. The triangle is there to indicate any amount of water flow, even the slightest. If you have gone for 8 hours and it is still the same, then I think it would be safe to say that it is okay and normal for your application.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Yes, the red triangle continues. Shouldn't it stop immediately upon closing the faucet?

The rest of the story is that suddenly starting in May (and each month since) my water usage (according to the meter) has more than doubled.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Yes, red triangle turns same direction - when water is flowing and after faucet is closed.

Yes, have a thermal expansion tank on the water heater. Could it be bad, or is the triangle continuing to turn normal?

Had a licensed master plumber come out. He was the first to notice what I described. He ultimately decided something was wrong with the meter, but he couldn't explain how/why it was continuing to turn.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: jblanche (WI)

Isolate the thermal expansion tank and see if the problem clears.

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

The PRV could be leaking, and the additional water is raising the pressure to the city pressure. An expansion tank in the system could cause something similar to happen, under certain conditions.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

Meters record LESS water when they go bad, not more.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

In that case, he was a "plumber", not a "master plumber".

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: SMSPlumbing (PA)

was your water bills this high last year. Some of the meter readers just do drive by's and do not actually read it. My electric meter reader did this to me one time, and I was outside when he drove by. They based it off of last years readings, which was wrong.

Or have you used the water more? Like a filling a pool, watering your yard, or washing your car more?

You can check your pressure in your house to make sure the Pressure Reducing Valve is good by going and buying a test gauge with a hose adapter on it. Hook it to your water heater or hose spicket. This will let you know what the pressure is in your house. And also to check the expansion tank, push the shrader valve on the opposite side of the water inlet. If water spurts out, it is shot. If air does, then you can check the pressure. Turn the water off to the house and allow the water to drain from a faucet until it stops. Take a tire gauge and see what the pressure is in the tank. The pressure should match the water pressure that is in your house.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: dlh (TX)

i would think it is from the pressure being equalized

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

OK. Using cell phones, had my wife open an inside faucet while I watched the meter. There was a time lag between water running and the red triangle turning. She shut the faucet and as before the red triangle continued to turn for 60 seconds or so.

So I shut the valve to the water heater (and thermal expansion tank), repeated the test and both lag stopped. The meter started instantaneously and stopped instantaneously. Definite progress, but raises a couple of new questions.

1) is this what is supposed to happen, or does this indicate the water heater or thermal expansion tank needs replacement?
2) doesn't explain the suddenly double water usage (by the meter). Don't wash my car, don't water the lawn, use soaker hoses for plants but have gone weeks without even any of that. My usage for a family of 4 has been between 8 and 12 CCF for a couple of years and now for 4 months straight I'm at 24 to 26 CCF per month (which in Atlanta equals a $400+ monthly water/sewer bill). I plan to start checking and recording the meter readings daily for a while. And devise a meter accuracy test.
3) if the expansion tank is bad, there would not be any connection to water usage, would there? There is no water around the water heater, no sign of leakage there.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

To me, it indicates that you have a defective pressure regulating valve. The house pressure, and thus the expansion tank pressure, is above its setting, due to it leaking, and so when you open a faucet, two things happen;
1. the pressure in the system has to drop to the PRV setting, before water will flow through it, and,
2. the pressure in the expansion tank keeps the water flowing for a longer time than it would without the tank, thus causing an even longer period of time before the water start flowing through the PRV at which time the meter would start running.

When the faucet is turned off, the opposite occurs. The leaking PRV will continue to flow water until the system is at the same pressure as the city side, AND, it will take additional time and water, to pressurize the expansion tank to that higher pressure, which is why the meter continues to run.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

OK. That would explain the time lags between opening a faucet and the meter starting to run and between closing the faucet and the meter stopping.

And a correctly functioning PRV is necessary to lower the pressure to keep the higher pressure from causing leaks in washing machine hoses, etc.

But it is separate from the usage issue, right? The leakage through the PRV is still contained in the closed system and doesn't go anywhere until I use it (to take a shower, flush a toilet, etc.).

I'm going to get one of the water pressure gauges someone mentioned above and see what it says.

I did test the valve on the expansion tank - it blew air (no water). I'll test the pressure there with a tire gauge too.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Just realized that I've failed to thank everyone for their help and suggestions. You've all been great and very helpful. This has been a puzzler, and I think I've learned a lot thanks to y'all.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: SMSPlumbing (PA)

Here is the thing, if there is not a leak anywhere then regardless of the dial spinning, you are using that much water. The 60 seconds or so sounds like everyone else has said is the pressure equalizing. So when you turn on the water, the pressure decreases but your volume stays the same. So you must be using that much water.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

Whaatever the air pressure is there, THAT will be the water pressure in the house, unless it was originally pressurized to some outrageous level.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

The only water you are charged for is what comes out of the faucets and toilets, etc. The PRV issue is one of excessive pressure which could cause physical problems with the plumbing system.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: jblanche (WI)

"Meter is about 70' from the house. House is about 12' higher than the meter."

Sorry if I missed it, but I don't see that anybody mentioned checking the 70-foot run between the meter and the house. I'm not sure how you would do that, or if you can check for flow into a storm sewer, etc.

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

He stated in the original post that there was NO flow through the meter, which should preclude the line from the meter to the house being where the leak is.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: jblanche (WI)

Thanks hj. I wasn't thinking straight, that's for sure.

Maybe he should take daily meter readings and see how things are adding up.

Or, draw off a known quantity, like a 55-gallon drum full, and see what the meter shows.

Could this be teen shower syndrome? :)

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

I am taking daily measurements. One culprit seems to be the "soaker" hoses I was using - trying to keep a red maple, two wild plums and four oakleaf hydrangeas alive. I ran two hoses for an hour+ each. Wife also ran the washing machine several times. Saturday's usage was 250 gallons. Yesterday's was over 1700 gallons.

Now researching soaker hose flow rates. I was trying to be efficient. Maybe 20 minutes each hose once a week will be enough. Luckily days are getting shorter and temps in upper 80s instead of mid- 90s so less need to water.

I'll post daily usage here at the end of the week.

Looks like I owe the City an apology tomorrow.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: Nayman's Drain Services (Non-US)

1700 gallons???????????????
wow, you must really LOVE them trees.
I'd cut them& use them for firewood

---------------

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

My memory was off. It was 179 cubic feet, which is almost 1350 gallons. I remembered the 17 start and remembered over 1000 gallons - just put the numbers together wrongly. But still a lot of water from soaker hoses - looks like an extra 900 gallons.

Saturday 204 gallons
Sunday 1335 gallons
Monday 363 gallons
Tuesday 206 gallons

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Pressure gauge says 40 psi - both front and back hose bibbs. Didn't thread cleanly on the water heater, so didn't get a read there.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: dlh (TX)

so what did you do different on sunday?

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PLUMBERS "Protecting The Health Of The Nation"

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: hj (AZ)

Staatic pressure is constant all through the system, so you only have to test one place.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: 4 (GA)

Last Sunday included watering some trees and plants with soaker hoses.

Salesguy at Home Depot suggested testing front and back in case the front hose bibbs were at street pressure. I was almost positive that they were not - that everything came through the PRV before back out - but checked anyway.

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: dlh (TX)

then that is where your problem lies otherwise the numbers would all be high

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PLUMBERS "Protecting The Health Of The Nation"

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 Re: Residential water meter
Author: louvain (CA)

I agree that staatic pressure is constant all through the system.

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