plumbingBack in March I told the story of a property on a nearby street being sold and the new owner discovering that my water meter was in his house.   Over the next month I told the story here and here about the city’s water department using dousing rods while installing the new water main to our house.

Today it’s time for what I truly hope are the final two chapters in my water meter saga.

Back in April, at our new neighbor’s insistence, we had the city run a new water main run up our street to our house so that we could get our water meter out of his house.  At the time, he seemed to be in a hurry because he was in the midst of gutting the house.  It all happened pretty quickly and within a few weeks we had the new water line into our house.  The new neighbor magnanimously agreed to have his  plumber move our old meter into our house and connect it to our plumbing system.   Back in April we told him it was all set to go whenever his plumber wanted to do the job and then for months nothing happened.    It was curious since initially he seemed to be in such a hurry but we didn’t particularly care since the meter has been in the neighboring house for the last 100 years.

In early August we were down in Cape Cod.  One afternoon my wife had to go back to Newton for some business.  About two hours after she left, I got a call from an alarmed neighbor who said “you know that new pipe they ran up to your house, well it’s shooting water up into the air in the middle of the street”.  I called my wife who had not yet got home but had stopped at Baza about a 1/2 mile from the house.  “Get up there as quick as you can, something weird is happening”.  My wife called back 5-10 mins later completely perplexed.  She said “I just pulled up to the house in the middle of a fierce downpour.  The metal plate in the street leading to the new water main is missing and water is shooting straight up in the air.  On the front porch there’s a three foot long piece of copper pipe leaning against the side of the house.  The front door was wide open.  I walked in and there’s muddy footprints leading from the front door to the door to the basement.  I went down in the basement and there’s water on the floor.  I called the city and they’re going to send someone right out.”

While we were talking, my wife looked out the window and said “I just saw a truck drive away and the water’s not coming out of the street anymore – it must have been the city guys … wait a minute, now we have no water in our house.”   We suddenly realized this might have something to do with our new neighbor and his plumber.  I gave the neighbor a call and as casually as I could said “so when do you think you’ll be moving that water meter”.  He said “oh my guys moved it this morning”.  I told him everything my wife had reported and he said “oh shit, let me call my plumber.  I’ll get right back to you”.  The plumber showed up quickly, apologized profusely and got our water turned back on.

So as best as we can tell, here’s what actually happened.  The plumber decided that morning to move the meter.  Rather than call us he went over and knocked on our door and no one answered.  He knew that we had already agreed to having the meter moved so he went around and found an unlocked door and just went in.  In order to move the meter, you need someone from the city’s water dept on site.  I think they maybe the city guy does the actual meter move.  The city guy insisted that before the water could be turned on, the new water main in the street had to be flushed – a bit curious since it’s a brand new section of pipe.  Anyway, they opened a valve in front of our house and that was why water was shooting up in the air in the middle of the street.  I’m guessing that either the plumber or the city guy forgot all about it because it was some number of hours later when my wife discovered the Spring St Geiser and I’m guessing it should only have taken 5 -10 minutes to flush 50 feet of pipe.  The small amount of water on the basement floor had nothing to do with any of this and was a result of the torrential rain that had fallen that day.

And now for the last chapter …

Today a water bill arrived for May 28 – Aug 28 and it was through the roof – more than double what we were expecting.  I spoke to a wonderful woman named Maura in the City’s Water Dept.  She pulled all my billing info for the last few year and went through it with me over the phone.  Generally our bill goes way down every year in the summer because we’re away much of that quarter.  This year our bill went way up despite the fact that the house was empty much of the time.  I told her the whole saga and asked whether that flushing of the water main all day long could be responsible.  She said no since that’s all before the water gets to the meter inside the house.  The only other possibility I can think of is that the neighbor has been using the water from my meter these last months during construction.  Even if he had, I don’t think it could explain this much of a discrepancy.  There’s been no obvious water intensive activity on the construction site.  It’s mostly been carpentry etc.

So at this point I have no explanation and some hundreds of extra dollars to pay for water that we didn’t use.   I’ve got a few more calls to make and a bit more digging to do but I suspect I’m going to get left holding the bag on that.

Much as I hope I’ve entertained you all with my plumbing stories, I do truly hope this is the last installment of my series on Upper Falls plumbing.


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