Water running continuously at multi-unit?

11 Replies

Hi all,

I have a water issue for a 3 unit building that I purchased over the summer.  I got a notice from the city that the water has been running continuously.  When the water & trash bill came, the last bill cycle was for around $450 (38k gallons of water used)... whereas usually it's around $200-250 per bill cycle, and half of that usage.

I contacted the city and they had a person go out and check on the meter.  They said that the meter is working fine, but running continuously.  They also said they would provide me a 'data profile' report with more details on daily usage... however, after several calls and emails - still have not received this.  (Also, it's such a pain dealing with the city utilities department).

I spoke with the tenants and they all said they don't have any running water... no continuous flow in the toilets, etc.  Laundry area looks fine.  Everything seems to be OK at the building.

Anyone else experience something similar in your buildings?  I'm happy to call a plumber to go and take a look... but I have no idea where this hidden leak could be happening... wondering if this is typical and what the best course of action is here?  The building is one of those standard brick 3 units in UK Village built about 100 years ago.  Also, any tips on dealing with the city would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Is that meter out at the street? If so, I would expect that it's a leak in the underground line between the meter and the building. Had that happen more than once in Atlanta.

I had a similar issue. Turned out to be the toilet flappers weren’t creating a proper seal. The leak was so small you couldn’t notice. I suggest replacing the flappers on all toilets. I hope this helps. 

If you turn off the main water line in the house you can see if the meter is still running so you know if it's within the house or out to street. 

Originally posted by @Francis Rusnak :

If you turn off the main water line in the house you can see if the meter is still running so you know if it's within the house or out to street. 

 That's helpful.  Pardon my ignorance, if we find out that the leak is happening out to the street... am I still responsible for this, or is it the city's responsibility?  Also, how exactly does a water leak work if we find out it's not within the house?

Also, I forgot to mention. About 2 weeks ago, the main sewer line was clogged and I had to get it rooted via the catch basin. They found some tree roots and a tampon. Would this be related to the hidden water leak at all?

Sewer issue probably not related. I'd start by just changing all the toilet flappers. About $4 each. That's by far the most common cause of water "loss". Don't expect your tenants to notice this. And as far as if it's a leaky water line, anything on your side of the meter is your responsibility. Some houses in the north have the water meter in the basement and not sure who repairs the line from that to the street. Here in Georgia, meters are near the road.

Originally posted by @John Teachout :

Sewer issue probably not related. I'd start by just changing all the toilet flappers. About $4 each. That's by far the most common cause of water "loss". Don't expect your tenants to notice this. And as far as if it's a leaky water line, anything on your side of the meter is your responsibility. Some houses in the north have the water meter in the basement and not sure who repairs the line from that to the street. Here in Georgia, meters are near the road.

 Thanks all for the great advice.  I'm going to have my tenants all do the food coloring test tomorrow (below) to see if their toilets have a leak.  If so, I'll know which flapper(s) need to be replaced.  Fingers crossed that it is the toilet since that means it's a very simple fix.  Stay tuned...

@Mitchell J. 99% of the time the issue is a toilet. They sell die tablets online for like $2. You put those in the tank and come back 5 minutes later and you can see the die in the toilet bowl if it is leaking. You also can turn off water to each fixture and isolate them. Have a friend/handyman meet you there and one of you stands by the meter while you turn fixtures back on one at a time. If the meter starts spinning you found your leak.