water leak check

Winter Wonder, not wasting water!

Winter has come, finally!  It’s already the middle of November and wastewater averaging (WWA) is upon us.  What is wastewater averaging, you ask?  Well, let me tell you…

In the winter months (November, December, January, and February) the City assumes that our water use is lower than any other time of year, simply because it’s cold out, its winter, and we’re not watering our yards.  These are the months when water use is lower thanfrozen_faucet the rest of the year, so the City uses these 3 winter billing cycles (Nov-Dec, Dec-Jan, and Jan-Feb) to determine how much we’re going to be charged for wastewater (aka sewer) for the rest of the year.

See, the City doesn’t have meters on the wastewater line coming out of your house; so, essentially, we make an educated assumption that all water being used is going down the drains at your houses.  Since no water is being used outdoors. (Right? Turn off those sprinkler systems!)  All water is being used indoors for necessary purposes: baths, showers, toilets, sinks, dish and clothes washers, etc…

So the average of those 3 months water use is what you are charged for wastewater for the remainder of the year.  For example, if you use 5400 gallons on your December bill, 4900 on January bill, and 4500 on February bill then your WWA would be 5400 + 4900 + 4500 / 3 = 4933, which would be rounded to 4900 gallons.  So, for the rest of the year, the most you’ll be charged for wastewater is 4900 gallons!  That’s good!  No matter if your water use goes higher in the summer; the wastewater use is capped at 4900 gallons.

This is a number that is recalculated annually, so if you “mess up” and refill your pool or keep watering that yard the whole winter, you can fix it the next year by keeping the water use down.  But, we want you to save money and water now, so turn off those sprinklers!

Another way to keep water use low in winter is to check for leaks, especially in your toilets.  Watch my video on how to check for leaks and check your toilet to see if it’s efficient.  What I say in the video is that toilets using 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less are considered efficient.  I want to add to that a little, by saying that on January 1, 2014, it became state law that all toilets sold in Texas must use 1.28 gallons per flush OR LESS.  So that means, even if you have a 1.6 gpf toilet, you can make it even more efficient, and save more water each time you flush (and reduce those waste water charges further) by upgrading to a new 1.28 gpf toilet!  The City’s water conservation program’s has a rebate program for this upgrade.  Find the details at www.roundrocktexas.gov/conservation.

 

Do I Have a Water Leak?

During the hottest parts of the year the phone calls increase with concerns from people asking if they have a water leak, or maybe their neighbor is using their water to fill up their pool.  There’s just no way they had used that much water this past month.  Or the meter reader must have read the meter wrong!  Or the meter is just wrong, or the water lines are crossed because the neighbor waters every day and I don’t and my bill is higher… I think I’ve heard it all!  Rarely do we find anything more than leaks or an irrigation system that is using more water than the homeowner realizes.  Nothing too exciting in the grand scheme of things.

If you think you may have a water leak, then there are simple steps you can take to figure out if you have one, before calling a plumber.  The first thing to do is to locate your water meter.  It is outside, typically near the front property line on one of the sides of your house, near the sidewalk.  The box is rectangular and either has a metal lid or black plastic lid.  If you can, open it up.  Inside the meter box are typically two water meters.  I keep saying usually, because thereWater meter register 200px are always exceptions!  Anyway, your meter is closer to your house, and the other meter is your neighbor’s.

Looking at the face of the meter, there is a hand that sweeps around the face, much like the hands of a clock.  When that hand moves one time around the face that means 10 gallons have been used, or have gone through the meter.  If the hand is moving when you open up the meter, then that means water is currently going through the meter and is being used at your property.  When no water to your knowledge is on at your house, that hand should be perfectly still.

There’s also a small star- or triangle-shaped feature on the face that we commonly call the “leak detector.”  It moves when we often can’t see the hand moving, because it’s a little more sensitive to lower flow water.  If this is perfectly still too, then good, no leak.  If it’s moving, then again, something is using water.

There is also numbers on the face of the meter, like an odometer in a vehicle.  This is the number that gets read every month to calculate how many gallons have gone through the meter.  At the end of the day, before going to bed, you can write down these numbers.  In the morning, before water is used at the house, go read the numbers again.  If they are the same, great, no leak.  If they have changed, then water has been used on the property.  To find out how much water was used, subtract the morning number from the night number.  The answer you get is the gallons that were used.  (i.e.  the meter read 58673 in the morning and 55492 at night.  So 58673 – 55492 = 3181 gallons were used overnight!)  Oh yes, that’s right, my irrigation system went off; that’s how much water it used.

Watch our video to see how to perform this meter check yourself.  Good luck!