I have a feeling people who work for the city – especially the water department folks – may be thinking “UH OH!” when they read the headline up there. But no fear. I’m here to brag about them a little.
We got our water bill last month and my husband and I nearly had a stroke. It was almost NINETY dollars. You read that right – $90 – and we have NO sewer fee attached since we’re on septic. I suspect if we had to pay sewer fees on top of the water usage, our bill would’ve been like $180. (By the way, we also got our newest electric bill with the rate increase and let me just say NES you are despicable.)
So I carry myself to the water company during lunch today to ask about this huge bill which is a good 3 times bigger than usual (it’s typically $25 to $30). The lady working the front counter today was Tammy (get well soon, Ms. E!). I found Tammy to be incredibly helpful and professional. She gave me her full attention, showed me a “sample” meter and told us what to look for if there is a leak somewhere in the line. There’ s a black triangle that will spin like crazy if there’ s a leak. If there is no triangle and there’s a leak, the hand that’s not unlike a second hand on a clock can be seen moving ever-so-slowly.
Tammy also explained that if the leak is from the street to the meter, the city would pay for repairs but if it’s from the meter to the house… well it’s on us. I suggested that if it was from the street to the meter, then our meter might not be registering the water usage and we’re pretty sure that would be the case. So it’ll likely be a leak we’ll be responsible for. NOOOOOOOOO! Sadly, yes. Tammy went on to say that sometimes the homeowners insurance policy will pay for this, but I’ll have to contact my insurance agent to ask. I fear that if the leak isn’t actually in or under the house, we’ll still have to eat this. Meanwhile, Tammy also looked at our December meter reading and found that yes, the water bill is actually even higher than the November bill. Probably a pipe failure somewhere down the yard.
Why am I stressed about it, you wonder? Way back when, builders used polybutylene pipes which were eventually found to fail in the epic proportions.
While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in the public water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the polybutylene piping and acetal fittings causing them to scale and flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result, and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property. It is believed that other factors may also contribute to the failure of polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is virtually impossible to detect installation problems throughout an entire system.
We talked to our AMAZING plumber (Earl Chandler of Smyrna’s Chandler Plumbing) some time ago and he gave us a ballpark figure of what the cost would be to replace our pipes leading to the house. It ain’t pretty.
Meanwhile, Tammy said once we have repairs made (think costs in the thousands unless my insurance agent comes through) we hould bring in our paperwork showing the work was done. At that point, the Water Department will apparently review the situation and may be able to make an adjustment to our bill.
And for all Tammy’s great advice and to their willingness to be helpful, the city Water Department gets my shout-out *slash* KUDOS today. Thanks ladies and gentlemen.
Does anyone have any plumbing advice?