Jun 1, 2015 3:59:00 PM / by Claude Kershner IV

waterIQlogoPMSU-300x201Water usage is a major topic amongst vacation homeowners (second homes), contractors and managers this time of year (May – June) in South Florida. No one wants a high water bill. It is dry, hot and the days are long. Irrigation systems are running and weekend rentals are easy to sell. In this post, we will tell you what you can do to investigate any current high usage. In addition, we will go over systems or services you can put in place to prevent future occurrences.

High water usage issues can be the result of many different factors or the combination of factors. It is a dynamic problem but usually there is a root cause and a conclusive fix. To start, the number of people in and out of the home can all be responsible for high water issues - owners, renters, property managers, hired contractors, pool cleaners, landscapers and housekeepers just to name a few. On the other hand, the lack of any of these people can also cause high water issues - lack of attention or neglect. Mother Nature, malfunctioning irrigation systems, electrical issues, aging appliances, disregard to repairs, negligence, etc. can all cause high water.

There are two types of issues - If you want to know which issue you have, locate the water meter on your property. Usually it is located at the front left or right of the property:

  1. A perpetual flow of water or a leak
    • If the water meter is spinning slow or fast and you don’t currently have something running then you have a perpetual usage or leak
  2. An event with systems (such as irrigation) that is occurring too often, or when it does occur is distributing too much water
    • If it is not spinning at all, most likely, it is a specific event that occurs or is continually occurring on the property
    • Calling your county aqueduct authority and having them send a detailed water usage report (broken down by day) is very helpful

Now you are ready to begin the investigation, which is essentially a process of elimination or deductive reasoning. If you have a perpetual issue, walking the internal sections of the house should be first. Walk the house and listen closely for any running water. Use your ears and listen for the water. The internal running water will come from sources such as:

  1.     Toilets
  2.     Sinks
  3.     Ice machines
  4.     Water softeners
  5.     Anything with an auto fill (automatic filling devise, just like a toilet)

If you do not notice anything in the house, move outside and do the same thing. Look at the areas around irrigation heads, hoses, pool fill valves, fountains, boat docks and anything else outside the house that distributes water. If you do not hear anything but the water is still running, you may have an underground leak and should contact a plumber and shut the water off to the house until it is fixed.

If you look at the meter and it is not spinning (not running perpetually), you have a few other areas you can investigate

Irrigation systems are the most common areas where over usage or malfunctions may occur. Look at the settings on the system. Specifically the amount of times the irrigation system runs each week and the amount of time per zone. This is easy to adjust but we advise that you call an irrigation company or your landscaper for consultation.

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  • Your irrigation is a vital component in your landscape health and appearance, especially in dry or hot periods
  • The system is installed predominantly subterranean in a dynamic environment with shifting and moving roots and rocks that can push up move down or break pipes, irrigation heads, valve boxes and wires to cause malfunctions
  • Many systems are decades old and all systems require constant monitoring, maintenance and repair
  • At the cost of water in Monroe County Florida (approximately $100.00 per 10,000 gallons) and a typical run cycle can be as much as 3,500 gallons, this dynamic system deserves all of our time and attention

Another area is the pool. Look at the auto fill and the equipment for any leaks. Most equipment runs on a timer. This is also something we recommend doing with a pool consultant

Services that can help monitor water usage

  1. Property managers or vacation rental companies should take some responsibility for ensuring that all internal water sources are properly turned off and external sources are managed and monitored regularly 
  2. Manually read your meter on a weekly basis and calculate the usage - typically thresholds over 15,000 gallons a week are abnormal and usually your property manager can do this 
  3. Reading the meter digitally through a software system that the aqueduct authority offers - this is a unique but very useful system ex. Florida Keys Aqueduct 
  4. Irrigation system checks on a bi weekly or monthly basis - ensure a properly working irrigation system 
  5. Stay on top of high bills quickly because little issues can easily turn into big ones

Reef Tropical is very experienced is an array of different water issues and will be happy to speak with you more about your particular issue. Click the button below and tell us about your particular problem.  

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Claude Kershner IV

Written by Claude Kershner IV

President Reef Tropical • Pool & Landscape

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