Cleveland Water Usage - Comparing Bills

34 Replies | Cleveland, Ohio

I have two duplexes in Cleveland and the water/sewer bills are really crushing my cash flow.  I looked into the hourly usage and can find patterns in what I'm confident are toilet flushes.  I'm seeing 7.5 gallons per flush. All the toilets in the properties are water-efficient and supposed to use 1.8 gpf or less.  Am I missing something here?  Is anyone else seeing this discrepancy? 

edit: Found this on the Cleveland water website: 

"Cleveland Water meters measure water in thousand cubic feet (one cubic foot equals approximately 7.5 gallons), or MCF. Charges for the amount of water consumed are based on the number of MCF units used during a billing period. One MCF unit equals 1,000 cubic feet or approximately 7,480.05 gallons."

My understanding is the meter's lowest unit of measurement is 0.001 MCF.  So they charge .001 MCF or 7.5 gallons for every flush even though only 1.8 gallons are used.  Is that right??

I found this on the Cleveland Water website: 

"Cleveland Water meters measure water in thousand cubic feet (one cubic foot equals approximately 7.5 gallons), or MCF. Charges for the amount of water consumed are based on the number of MCF units used during a billing period. One MCF unit equals 1,000 cubic feet or approximately 7,480.05 gallons."


If I'm understanding this correctly, it means the meter's smallest unit of measurement is .001 mcf or 1 cubic foot, and any time a toilet is flushed, the meter reads it as .001 mcf regardless of how many gallons the toilet actually uses.  Is that right? 

Updated almost 3 years ago

edit: Didn't realize i posted this twice.

Updated almost 3 years ago

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I have two duplexes, one in Cleveland Heights and one in Euclid. The one in Cleveland Heights is rather large, 3,715 sq ft. That water/sewer bill has consistently been between $215 and $225 (for both). Yeah, it is a cash flow killer.  It is occupied by 5 people, total.

So I don't know exactly how the meter determines a click over from .001 to .002 but in looking at a couple random days at one of my properties I'm noticing that this might be rounding error in their visualization software... when I add up hourly, I'm consistently getting a number higher than the the total presented back for daily... Might be worth asking them..

On the bills, I have 4 duplexes in Parma which use Cleveland water, typically the properties are occupied by 4-5 people total & the bills (Water & Sewer) run between 100-150 all in.  Given the other replies I'll consider my self lucky...  Note, I don't allow dishwashers, however washers are ok.

Originally posted by @Karl Hadley :

So I don't know exactly how the meter determines a click over from .001 to .002 but in looking at a couple random days at one of my properties I'm noticing that this might be rounding error in their visualization software... when I add up hourly, I'm consistently getting a number higher than the the total presented back for daily... Might be worth asking them..

On the bills, I have 4 duplexes in Parma which use Cleveland water, typically the properties are occupied by 4-5 people total & the bills (Water & Sewer) run between 100-150 all in.  Given the other replies I'll consider my self lucky...  Note, I don't allow dishwashers, however washers are ok.

Thanks for this post.  

Strange, I'm seeing the opposite for one property, daily higher than hourly. On the other property it's about even. 

If you look at the hourly you just going to drive yourself crazy. 

Hence that's why I didn't know it existed. I buy SFR to pass on the bill to the tenant. Life is simple then

@Austin Tam - the way I interpret the "lowest unit of measurement" is that you'll get dinged for 7.5 gallons once that many gallons have been used- in other words, at that point, the meter "clicks" and another .001 MCF is added to your total. For a duplex, your usage is looking pretty normal. On Monday July 16th, one of your residents(the early bird) got up around 6 am, *might* have flushed the toilet, then took a 4 minute shower and was off to work. That one's industrious! 

Around 8-10 am, another two residents arose, you had a few toilet flushes and 12 mins combined of showering at approximately 2 gallons per minute which would tally the 30 gallons you see there, then those two took off to work.

Go to Home Depot and pick up four Niagara Stealth toilets(.8 gpf and much cheaper if you pick them up instead of having them shipped,) install some 1.75 gpm showerheads(make sure they're well-rated,) check to make sure your faucets have the proper aerators installed and that you have no leaks, and call me in the morning.

MG, PhD in Cheapness 

Originally posted by @Michael Gansberg :

@Austin Tam - the way I interpret the "lowest unit of measurement" is that you'll get dinged for 7.5 gallons once that many gallons have been used- in other words, at that point, the meter "clicks" and another .001 MCF is added to your total. For a duplex, your usage is looking pretty normal. On Monday July 16th, one of your residents(the early bird) got up around 6 am, *might* have flushed the toilet, then took a 4 minute shower and was off to work. That one's industrious! 

Around 8-10 am, another two residents arose, you had a few toilet flushes and 12 mins combined of showering at approximately 2 gallons per minute which would tally the 30 gallons you see there, then those two took off to work.

Go to Home Depot and pick up four Niagara Stealth toilets(.8 gpf and much cheaper if you pick them up instead of having them shipped,) install some 1.75 gpm showerheads(make sure they're well-rated,) check to make sure your faucets have the proper aerators installed and that you have no leaks, and call me in the morning.

MG, PhD in Cheapness 

Thanks for the feedback.  My issue is that it doesn't seem like getting low gpf toilets even matters with the way they seem to be measuring.  I'm pretty sure each of those .001 mcf logs are a single flush.  There's only one unit occupied, so those numbers are only for 1 occupied unit.  They're logging .001 MCF per flush (or 7.5 gallons), whether that flush actually uses 1.8 gallons, 1.6 gallons or 0.8 gallons. 

Originally posted by @Federico Gutierrez :

If you look at the hourly you just going to drive yourself crazy. 

Hence that's why I didn't know it existed. I buy SFR to pass on the bill to the tenant. Life is simple then

Yeah, I was hoping that buying duplexes meant that I would pay less in capex over time relative to revenue (one roof, one building). But with water/sewer at 150-200/mo and lawn care at $30/wk in the summer, you're right. I might be better off buying SFH's.

It's a give and take in the RE game. I prefer to have LESS headaches and if it means I miss out on a few dollars BUT I'm not worrying about water, sewer, grass cutting, snow removal and constant turn over every year. I'll take less cash and keep my health and sanity

Originally posted by @Federico Gutierrez :

It's a give and take in the RE game. I prefer to have LESS headaches and if it means I miss out on a few dollars BUT I'm not worrying about water, sewer, grass cutting, snow removal and constant turn over every year. I'll take less cash and keep my health and sanity

My experience thus far points to duplexes not necessarily equating to more cash. If I'm paying $130/mo/unit at $35k/unit at $650/mo rent, that's the equivalent of a 1.5% rent to price ratio of an equivalent SFH property with tenants paying for lawn/sewer/water. A 1.5% rent to price SFH in Cleveland is not that difficult to come by. I'll definitely need to re-evaluate my portfolio strategy.

Austin- it can’t be that way. If it were, every time someone poured a cup of water or washed their hands, you’d get hit for 7.5 gallons of usage.

Originally posted by @Austin Tam :
Originally posted by @Michael Gansberg:

@Austin Tam - the way I interpret the "lowest unit of measurement" is that you'll get dinged for 7.5 gallons once that many gallons have been used- in other words, at that point, the meter "clicks" and another .001 MCF is added to your total. For a duplex, your usage is looking pretty normal. On Monday July 16th, one of your residents(the early bird) got up around 6 am, *might* have flushed the toilet, then took a 4 minute shower and was off to work. That one's industrious! 

Around 8-10 am, another two residents arose, you had a few toilet flushes and 12 mins combined of showering at approximately 2 gallons per minute which would tally the 30 gallons you see there, then those two took off to work.

Go to Home Depot and pick up four Niagara Stealth toilets(.8 gpf and much cheaper if you pick them up instead of having them shipped,) install some 1.75 gpm showerheads(make sure they're well-rated,) check to make sure your faucets have the proper aerators installed and that you have no leaks, and call me in the morning.

MG, PhD in Cheapness 

Thanks for the feedback.  My issue is that it doesn't seem like getting low gpf toilets even matters with the way they seem to be measuring.  I'm pretty sure each of those .001 mcf logs are a single flush.  There's only one unit occupied, so those numbers are only for 1 occupied unit.  They're logging .001 MCF per flush (or 7.5 gallons), whether that flush actually uses 1.8 gallons, 1.6 gallons or 0.8 gallons. 

Originally posted by @Austin Tam :

I have two duplexes in Cleveland and the water/sewer bills are really crushing my cash flow.  I looked into the hourly usage and can find patterns in what I'm confident are toilet flushes.  I'm seeing 7.5 gallons per flush. All the toilets in the properties are water-efficient and supposed to use 1.8 gpf or less.  Am I missing something here?  Is anyone else seeing this discrepancy? 

edit: Found this on the Cleveland water website: 

"Cleveland Water meters measure water in thousand cubic feet (one cubic foot equals approximately 7.5 gallons), or MCF. Charges for the amount of water consumed are based on the number of MCF units used during a billing period. One MCF unit equals 1,000 cubic feet or approximately 7,480.05 gallons."

My understanding is the meter's lowest unit of measurement is 0.001 MCF.  So they charge .001 MCF or 7.5 gallons for every flush even though only 1.8 gallons are used.  Is that right??

 One of the many downsides to MFRs. That's why I prefer SFRs. Just send the bill to the tenant. :)

Originally posted by @Michael Gansberg :
Austin- it can’t be that way. If it were, every time someone poured a cup of water or washed their hands, you’d get hit for 7.5 gallons of usage.

 Hmm, you may be right and I hope you are.  I averaged out water usage per day per person and it came out to a little less than 53 gallons per person per day, which doesn't seem unreasonable. 

@Austin Tam What's your reason to believe these are toilet flushes? Unless you actually called your tenant to ask about their potty routines, you're making a pretty big assumption. 

The meter will "click" up 0.001 MCF every time 7.5 gallons has gone through. So where you see no usage at 10 and 11, they very well may have used the toilet or cleaned some dishes by hand, etc, but until the unit measures another 7.5 gallons total nothing more will register. 

In theory they could use one drop of water and trigger another 7.5 on the chart, or use 7.4 gallons and not trigger a reading at all. Make sense? 

Originally posted by @David Smit :

@Austin Tam What's your reason to believe these are toilet flushes? Unless you actually called your tenant to ask about their potty routines, you're making a pretty big assumption. 

The meter will "click" up 0.001 MCF every time 7.5 gallons has gone through. So where you see no usage at 10 and 11, they very well may have used the toilet or cleaned some dishes by hand, etc, but until the unit measures another 7.5 gallons total nothing more will register. 

In theory they could use one drop of water and trigger another 7.5 on the chart, or use 7.4 gallons and not trigger a reading at all. Make sense? 

It's a complete assumption, and you're right, I may be totally wrong.  I do have a completely vacant duplex now that I could run a test on now. 

Digital measurements of an inherently analog resource is nearly always 'lumpy'. The meters use rational numbers to describe irrational numbers; you can get really really close but very difficult to be absolutely precise (always going to have a +/- tolerance).

As others have pointed out, if the meter ticked over ever time 'any' water moved through the system, every hand wash, glass of water, tooth brushing would get dinged. Rather it measures until 7.5 G are used and then 'ticks.

Take a look at this article to get a better idea of how things work inside a water meter;

http://www.balkanplumbing.com/how-a-water-meter-wo...

Oren

Yesterday a received a letter from the City of Cleveland Heights stating that I owe $253.63 from my "quarterly local sewer and landfill" service account. I guess in addition to usage I also have to pay $80 extra. Is this normal?

Sadly yes. For both of our Cleveland Heights SFR's we get a Cleveland water bill, a sewer bill from NEORSD, and a Cleveland heights Utilities bill for sewer and landfill. The landfill charges are for garbage pick-up.

Shout out to @Austin Tam regarding the Cleveland water portal. Signed up and downloaded the recent 2 week period for my 39 unit MF property. What it showed was there was NO hourly period  with 0 usage which suggest a leak. Having said that, there are many periods with only 0.001 or 0.002 MCF (not surprisingly all in the early AM) which is 1 or 2 cubic feet. A toilet flush on a 1.6 G is 0.21 cubic ft so it would take ~5 flushes to run 1 cubic foot.

Assuming there is a leak of .001 cubic feet per hour, that works out to 8.736 MCF per year or ~$367 for the water + $782 for the sewer; total ~$1,100.

Going to discuss with my PM. If it is one find-able leak, well worth plugging but what if it is a bunch of smaller drips. Just the cost of isolating where they are may be a lot of $$$.

Oren

Originally posted by @Oren K. :

Shout out to @Austin Tam regarding the Cleveland water portal. Signed up and downloaded the recent 2 week period for my 39 unit MF property. What it showed was there was NO hourly period  with 0 usage which suggest a leak. Having said that, there are many periods with only 0.001 or 0.002 MCF (not surprisingly all in the early AM) which is 1 or 2 cubic feet. A toilet flush on a 1.6 G is 0.21 cubic ft so it would take ~5 flushes to run 1 cubic foot.

Assuming there is a leak of .001 cubic feet per hour, that works out to 8.736 MCF per year or ~$367 for the water + $782 for the sewer; total ~$1,100.

Going to discuss with my PM. If it is one find-able leak, well worth plugging but what if it is a bunch of smaller drips. Just the cost of isolating where they are may be a lot of $$$.

Oren

A running toilet would be substantially above that number so you can eliminate that from your list of suspects. If there is a leak, it would have to be a sink, shower, or at the water heater. Plenty of lazy tenants don't report insignificant leaks under the sink or out of the faucet so it could be as simple as reaching out to every tenant and asking about any known leaks. 

Hi all,

That is one of the reasons why most of my 122 front doors are in Lake County!! Cleveland Water is a joke.  Right away,  tell your PM to order Niagara .80 gallons per minute toilets for about $180.00 with tax, elongated bowl.  The residents love it!!!  Also, go to usalandlord.com and get tamper proof aerators that require a special tool to remove. 1,5 GPM for kitchen sunk and .50 GPM for bathroom sink.  Tell the tenants if they remove, then you will charge them for water.  Shower head Niagara Massager 1.7 gpm.  

You are losing money right down the drain, literally!!!!!!!

Do it!! Do it!!! DO IT!!!!!!

Swanny

i own a duplex in Cleveland as well and was astounded at the water bills.  $150+ per month (including sewer).  My duplex in Northern CA is only about $100/mo (although sewer is part of property taxes).  Definitely a cash flow killer as you say....