Water Meter and Leak Detection
Hello all -
I am pulling my hair out on this one, and can't seem to get a good answer from anyone (plumber, city water, etc) on where and how to progress.
Basically, in the house we recently purchased I've got a ton of ground water around and (presumably) underneath the house. It's best seen in the sprinkler valve boxes (valves are ~ 2ft down), where water fills up the boxes. Considering this is Albuquerque (very dry), this is extremely odd as the soil is normally very, very dry.
So I started watching/educating myself on drains and water leak issues. I had a guy video scope the drains, and there were no (obvious) issues ... plus, the volume of water that we're seeing (8-10 gallons pumping out a day in a 3' deep hole I dug) is clearly not coming from a drain leak. It seems to be everywhere around the house, including in non-irrigated areas (dig down an inch and you can see that soil is at least damp). Naturally, I'm convinced there's a leak coming from somewhere.
In comes the water meter, where I am clearly a newbie. Basically, the "big hand" doesn't seem to budge at all, and our water bill is nothing noticeably big. BUT the little "low flow indicator" is moving ... back and forth, not super fast but quite noticeably. It's too hard to tell if it's "on average" turning clockwise (which I read somewhere is indicative of water flowing into the house from the meter), or the opposite (I'm giving water back?!). My gut instinct is that it's not "on average" turning clockwise, because the "big hand" measuring usage did not increment at all during a 3 hour observation window. Unless the big hand (and therefore my bill) only moves on appreciable flow??
Has anyone seen this behavior (low flow indicator moving back and forth) before? I did have a "water expansion tank" added to the input on my hot water heater when it was installed, as I was told that the city water pressure in this neighborhood is very high. Naturally I wonder if this expansion tank, combined with variable pressure from the city (I'm very near a golf course) could account for this "low flow" movement.
In the end, there's obviously a leak somewhere. None of my neighbors has a high water bill, while one of them also observes ground water in his irrigation box ... and I'm starting to think that the city may be leaking underneath the street. But of course the city won't even consider there to be a problem until there's a major leak (and the street is flooded).
Any suggestions? Time to call in a leak detection crew??
Thanks for any help. Sorry for the super long post, just throwing out all of the evidence I've gathered thus far.