Water Leaks and What You Should Know About Meter Reading and Billing
The Center Township Water Authority (CTWA) provides potable water service to over 4,800 customers. The customer owns the water service line between the home and the curb box, which is usually located at the edge of the public right-of-way near the waterline. CTWA regulations require that the customer is responsible to maintain, repair, and if necessary, replace the water service line from the home to the curb box.
Water use is metered for each customer. Most CTWA customers are residential and have a meter located within the home. If the customer does not have a basement, or is a long distance from the public waterline, the water meter may be located within a meter pit at the edge of the public right-of-way. CTWA has three (3) billing cycles and reads water meters in each district on a rotating quarterly basis. Meter reading data is used to invoice customers for water service.
Sanitary sewage service charges for residential customers are invoiced as a flat fee. Sanitary sewage service charges for Commercial customers are invoiced based upon metered water consumption.
Money Down the Drain
There are many ways to be water wise in and around the home. Following these simple tips can help save money, in addition to helping to conserve water and energy.
Use the water meter to determine if you have a leak. Start by making sure that no water is being used in the home. Check the flow indicator on the dial of the water meter. If the flow indicator is moving, and no one is using water, you may have a water leak and need to perform other checks.
Leaks Inside Your Home
The most common reason for high water bills is a toilet leak. Toilet leaks often are unnoticed and are normally caused by a problem with one or more of the following parts: bad flapper valve, flapper valve seat, ballcock valve, float arm or overflow tube. To determine if your toilet is leaking, perform the following steps at night or when you are out of the home for several hours:
- Remove the lid from your toilet tank.
- Color the water in the tank of the toilet with food coloring, coffee, cola, etc.
- After at least 20 minutes, if the coloring appears in the bowl, without you flushing the toilet, your bowl has a silent leak and repairs need to be made.
Faucet Leaks, Sinks, Tubs, Showers, Hose Bibs
If your faucet drips or it continues to run after you shut it off, it needs fixed. Also check hose bibs and faucets in the garage or unheated areas of your home during winter months.
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Other Items That Should Be Periodically Checked
Hot Water Tank – The pressure relief valve is usually near the top of the tank and the drain valve is near the bottom.
Automatic Ice Makers – A leak will cause excessive ice accumulation in the freezer and may also produce small puddles of water under the refrigerator.
Washing Machine and Dish Washer – If you see water on the floor, the washing machine or dishwasher may be leaking. Over time, the hoses from the faucets to the washing machine or dishwasher will deteriorate and may start to leak.
Water Softeners – The cycling process is regulated by a timer, and is often scheduled to occur at night. You are likely to have a problem with your water softener unit if you constantly hear the sound of running water.
Humidifiers – Water accumulating beneath the unit could be a sign of a leak. If the overflow unit discharge is piped into a sewer or drainage line, you may not find any visual signs of a leak. If it is a continuous leak, the float may be stuck and could be producing a constant sound of water running.
Faucets and Hose Bibs – Each outside faucet should be checked for leaks. During the winter months, inside shut off valves should be closed to prevent the outside faucets from leaking.
Swimming Pools – If the water level stays higher than normal, or the pool overflows when the pool is being used, the automatic shut off valve may need to be checked.
Customer Owned Water Service Lines and Lawn Sprinklers – Soft and wet spots in your lawn may indicate a break in the underground piping.
Water Service During Vacation and Winter Get Away
Going away for an extended period of time? The CTWA offers a service to have your water service terminated at the curb stop for persons whose home may be vacant for an extended period of time. A service fee is charged for both the turn-off and turn-on. No water or sewer charges accrue to your account during the period of termination. A person must be present within the home when the service is turned back on. You will need to call the Authority Office to schedule an appointment for this service.
Another option is that you can shut off the Main Service Valve which is near the water meter in your home. If the home is vacant for an extended period, this will help prevent significant flooding within the home should there be a plumbing failure while the home is vacant. Unless service is terminated at the curb, monthly billings and charges will continue to accrue during the vacancy.
Water Service Line Protection
The customer owns the water service line between the home and the curb box, which is usually located at the edge of the public right-of-way near the waterline. The customer is responsible to maintain, repair, and if necessary, replace the water service line from the home to the curb box.
Waterline breaks can be costly to repair and seem to occur at the most inconvenient time. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover the cost of the repair, resulting in out-of-pocket expenses for the homeowner.
CTWA does not offer an insurance plan should a waterline break occur. However, several third-party companies offer insurance on your water service line for a monthly charge: Duquesne Light Company, Columbia Gas, Peoples Gas, and several others. CTWA does not endorse or recommend any specific type of insurance that provides this type of protection. The customer should investigate and evaluate these programs individually.
Most homes serviced by CTWA are equipped with remote meter reading devices located on the outside of the home, so that readings can be taken without having to enter the residence. Residential meters are read every three (3) months; most commercial meters are read monthly.