I didn't know my water meter could be stolen

kim_oklaOctober 17, 2012

I came home last night and had no water. (After pumping soap into my hands) Called the water company, they came out and said my meter was gone.

Evidently if you are very late on your bill the water company can pull the meter. So someone that lost their meter took mine.

I called this morning with several questions. Will my meter still be charged to me at another address? No. So I guess when they don't pay that one for several months and they go steal another one.

I certainly understand desperate times and if they needed it for their family, ok. If they just want free water every month karma will come around.

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Haven't particularly heard of it happening with water meters, but DH was a bill collector for the electric/gas company for over 20 years. It was VERY common in some areas to find that someone had 'borrowed' another meter.

Rest assured, that it's not generally anyone with a life-or-death situation--the utility companies are set up for that, and won't (aren't allowed to) turn them off. This was no doubt a deadbeat who would rather steal than pay their own bill. And keep in mind, most low-income families get assistance for their utilities--so when they don't want to pay even the pittance that falls into their lap.....

Glad you got it all straightened out. Next time the thieves meter gets read, the reader should notice the wrong meter--unless they're using yours in the middle of the month, then putting the right one in before the reading date--now that situation can go on for quite a while before being caught--but it still won't ipact on your bill.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:55AM
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Water meters are indoors here... it would be very weird if someone stole one!
Also our meters just 'read'... the valve for shutoff is buried in the yard.

Sorry that happened to you!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:21AM
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That's crazy! Never heard of such a thing.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:36PM
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Our water meters are inside the house. Water meters should never be outside because of danger of freezing. Our meters do have a remote read-out unit ourside the house so that the utility employee does not have to enter your homw to read the meter. Our village has gone one step farther and installed remote readouts that can be read over the air. They now read meters by merely slowly driving by the house in a specially eqipped van. The readings are automatically logged to a file that will later be downloaded into a computer to automatically generate the bills.

Swiping the remote readout would not shut off the water in my house.

We do not shut off the water at the meter. Our water shut off valve is deep underground in the incoming lateral. Access to the shut off valve stem is through a capped pipe located on the lot line. Why the lot line? This allows the water untilty to be able to turn off the water without entering your property - no court order needed.

Inside the house are two more shutoff valves; One below the meter and the second above the meter. These are used when replacing the meter. In our village, water meters are changed out every 10 years for calibration checks and to install upgrades.

Most of our meters are manufactured by Badger Meter. Old ones had a cast bronze body and thieves were taking these from empty houses for the copper scrap content. While they were there, they'd rip out copper pipes as well. Some of that activity has reduced since Badger Meter began making meters with plastic bodies.

If you have a water meter outside the house that is exposed to ambient temperature, that is an unusual installation and may not be per code.

Gas meters are a different story. Our gas meters are outside and removing one without sufficient knowledge about the hookup could be very dangerous. You might open the high pressure supply line.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 1:06AM
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Wow - Crazy! I can't believe they just took it.

No water meter for me. Or gas meter. Or sewer. Or trash pickup... Country Living!! :)

I do have an electric meter - zoinks!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Things like that get stolen here to be sold for scrap metal. They also steal brass fittings for fire hoses (they cut the emergency hoses and take the brass nozzles), copper pipes out of houses, and will gut anything saleable out of a furnace.

Sometimes the places are vacant, other times they break in and do it.

Do you have to pay for the replacement? Hope your water is a-flowing today!


    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:16PM
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jem--here in Oklahoma all of our meters are outside. Gas, Electric and water.

My air conditioner unit is inside a locked fence. Yes here they are stealing copper from the air units. So it costs you thousands to replace so they can get a few hundred for the copper.

No I didn't have to buy a new water meter. The water co. may have to update their meters to work only at the assigned address or be able to track them if moved.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:33PM
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That's crazy. I don't understand people. Our meters are outside too.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:57PM
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I'm in NJ. Water meters here are always outside, but I know at the old house it was in a deep well-like pit, so below the frost line, I'm sure. I know it's outside at the country house, but I'm honestly not sure exactly where. In this area of the country, with new construction, all meters (water, gas, electric) are outside--and in our 'new' (1950's) house they are. In older neighborhoods like the 1920's area we moved from, it's normal to have the gas meter inside. Which means you have to: be home on meter-reading day; make arrangements to have a reader come out when you ARE home; PAY to move the meter outside; be okay with getting estimated bills most of the time; or--if you're lucky enough to be married to a utility company employee--none of the above--LOL. They did, a couple of years back, put in a new meter, though, that's still in our basement, but can be read from outside with a gizmo as the guy goes past. The only reason they did, and that we weren't charged was that they were replacing all the gas lines in the neighborhood, and decided to replace all the meters as well, while they were at it.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Having read through all the posts I can see that there seems to be some rather confusing information here. As a retired plumber allow me to help you sort it out.

Although there are some rare exceptions, generally on the front of your property there is a strip of land from the curb to the house side of the public sidewalk that is owned by the city. That strip of land is defined as the "utility easement" and that is were the underground water lines, sewer lines, storm sewer lines, gas lines and buried electrical or communication lines are located, as well as the poles to support overhead electrical, telephone, cable TV & commercial communication lines are located.

Whenever a structure is built the municipal water supplier taps the municipal water line and they install a short length of pipe to a buried valve which is known as a "Curb Stop Valve" A curb stop valve has a raised flat bar across the top of the valve that serves as the valve handle. A piece of 3" or 4" pipe is then extended up from that valve to finished grade where they place a round metal cap that says "Water". To activate that valve they remove the cap and use a long rod that has a tee handle on the top end and on the valve end it has an inverted U shape that will stradle the bar on the valve to turn the valve. By code, the line and the curb stop valve must be a minimum of 1' deep or 6" below the average frost depth for your area, whichever is deeper. The line from the municipal main, and maintenance on that line is the responsibilty of the municipal water supplier.

The line from the curb stop valve to the structure is technically defined as the "House Supply Line" and the property owner is responsibile for installation and maintenance of that line. When we pull a permit to install that line the water company will provide us the exact location where they intend to put the curb stop valve. We then attach the new house supply line to the end of the curb stop valve and run the line to the structure. In regions subject to freezing that line must enter the structure at the minimum depth below grade. If the house has a basement we then go through the footer wall and into the basement. If the house is on slab we have to enter the house through the footer wall, then stub it up into a utility space inside the house. In southern regions where there is no frost the line may stub up on the outside of the house.

When we pull the permit to install the house water line the water company will also give us a location and the "Fitting alloances" for the water meter. In regions where frost is not an issue they may require we install a "meter vault" at any given point from the house side of the sidewalk to the exterior base of the house. Generally the meter allowance will say we have to cut out a section of the pipe from 15" to 24" and we have to put a female pipe thread on both open ends of the pipe. Once the installation has been completed and passed inspection we contact the municipal supplier and they send someone out to install the meter.

Code also requires that we install a "House Main Water Shutoff Valve" on the end of the line downstream from the meter and generally the main ater shutoff valve must be within 6' from where the line enters the house.

Jemdandy mentioned that there is a valve on both sides of the meter, but that is not correct. Code requires the valve on the house side of the meter, but the valve on the input side of the meter is optional.

Code also requires that we install an electrical grounding wire that must be attached to the pipes on both the input and output side of the meter and that wire must be connected to the house main electrical ground at the electrical service entrance panel.

Years ago all water meters were manual and they had to send a meter reader around once a month to read it, although more often than not they sent someone every third month and estimated your bills on the two odd months.

They then developed an electronic sensor that could be attached to a manual meter and a wire was run to the exterior of the structure where they attached a small black hokey puck looking thing on the side of the house. With that, the reader just walked up the driveway and touched his/her recording device and it read automatically.

They then developed a sensor that reads the meter and it has a built in two way radio device so the water company can slowly drive down the street with a specially equiped car of pickup truck and it will automatically read all the meters as it goes by.

There is another type of meter that has a sending unit that is connected to your telephone line and they can read your meter via the phone line from a remote computer. And for those of you who are like Jan & I and use cell phone exclusively, the old phone wire is still attached to the house and they use it. Some electric meters work the same way.

OOOOOOOOOOH and while discussing the old phone line. Even is you do not have landline service, if you still have the old phone line attaced to your house you really should get one analoge type telephone and keep it hooked up. Although you don't have phone service and that phone cannot be used for normally telephone service, there is a federal law that says all phones, whether the phone service is on or not, must be able to call "911", so if you have a power outtage where the cell phones are down you could still call 911 in an emergency because the phone company has their own power system, but keep in mind, you must use a phone that does not require power.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 4:14PM
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