Can Someone Tap Into Your Water Line?
Imagine the following scenario: you are known for conserving water, and for as long as you lived in town, your water bills were $30 or so. Recently, a new family moved in. They have a pool, sprinklers, and everything else watery under the sun. The next month, you notice that your water bill shot up to $900. You look at your neighbors, who don’t make eye contact with you anymore. Could it be them?
Though it is very rare to do so, it is possible to tap into a neighbor’s water line. Though this is usually done by repair companies at times when a neighborhood-wide water main needs repair, tapping into a water line can also be done to steal water.
Water theft is a crime that’s on the rise, and in many parts of the country, tapping into a neighbor’s water line without permission can also be a chargeable offense. Here’s what you should know about tapping into your neighbor’s water line and what it could mean for your bills.
Is It Possible To Tap Into Someone Else’s Water Line?
When most people think of water lines, they tend to think of them as something that’s accessible to them alone. And, that’s the way it should be. However, in practice, things get to be a little more dicey. Because companies need to be able to access water lines for repairs, there are built-in ways to tap into everyone’s water lines.
If a person who has ulterior motives chose to do so, they could potentially tap into your water line and divert your water flow to their home. This would cause your water meter to spike while they get the water you paid for.
Is It Possible To Steal Water?
Technically, tapping into another house’s water line is water theft. It’s known by a wide range of different names, including water theft (duh!), water meter fraud, as well as water fraud. This can lead to higher water bills as well as fines from overuse from your local government.
How Can You Tell If Someone Is Tapping Into Your Water Line?
Most people won’t be able to tell until they receive a sky-high water bill, and even then, they might not be entirely sure what’s going on. It could be a large leak that’s possible for the uptick in your water bills.
Before you assume a neighbor stole your water, turn the water to our home off for a day and see if the number of gallons used increased. If it does, you may have a water thief.
Sometimes, you might also get other clues that suggest water theft is afoot. If the water thieves aren’t very good about their theft practices, you might notice a new network of hoses and pipes around the perimeter of your property. However, this is an exception to the rule rather than a common sight.
Getting an official investigation underway can vary depending on where you live. You may need to hire someone to investigate the water bill increases, in states like Wisconsin. In most states, though, water meter fraud will be investigated by the company and the police.
What Should I Do If I Catch My Neighbors Tapping Into My Water Line?
The first thing that you should do is document any proof that you have of the theft, or document any reasonable cause you have to suspect theft. Next, call the water company in charge of your meter and call the police to explain the situation. If the police don’t take the call seriously, your water company will.
Once the person has been officially documented with water theft, most municipal courts will charge them with either a misdemeanor or a felony charge depending on how much water they stole. If you have been victimized by water fraud, you also have the right to take the thief to court over the damages that you’ve had to face.
How Can I Prevent Someone From Stealing Water From Me?
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to worry about this. However, this is reality. These tips below can help you prevent water theft in both the long and short term:
- Get a security camera. This is the easiest way to see if neighbors are trying to connect new pipes to your water line and can also help you see if there are any leaks going on.
- Keep an eye on your water bill. Considering that a high water bill is a good indicator of water theft, this is a good way to stop water theft in its tracks.
- When you’re out of the house for a while, turn off the main valve to your water. Make sure that your water valve works properly and doesn’t look rusty before you go. If your neighbors can’t access your water, they won’t try to steal it.
- Use hose bib locks. If you’re worried about other people using your water hose, a hose bib lock will ensure that you are the only person who can gain access to your water.
- Have a plumber outfit a customized solution. If you’ve been struggling with trying to find a way to prevent water theft, or have been dealing with recurring theft issues, you may need to call a plumber to talk about a custom way to drop your water bills. Moreover, you also should consider taking your water thief to court.
What Kind Of Penalties Does Water Theft Carry?
This all depends on where you live. Every state allows you to bring water thieves to court for civil damages. Along with that, most states consider water meter fraud to be a criminal offense that is punishable by a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
This means thieves may face jail time ranging from a couple of days to upwards of three years in prison. In terms of fines, it varies from state to state, but most fines will be between $500 and $10,000. If a person is caught stealing an exceedingly high amount of water, they may end up with additional charges.
Can water meters come off?
Though you could probably physically remove the water meter that came with your home, you’re not allowed to remove them. It’s considered to be unlawful water meter tampering. The only way to get rid of a water meter is to call up your water company and ask for a replacement for a damaged meter.
Why do I have two water meters?
If you use a lot of water or have a large property, you might have multiple water meters. This helps bring about a more itemized water usage bill and can help make it easier to direct water.
Are water meters located indoors or outdoors?
The vast majority of water meters are located outside of the property, but within property limits. If you have an indoor water meter, it will most likely be located under your kitchen sink, near a downstairs toilet, or near a water heater.
How many gallons of water does taking a shower require?
A typical shower will require 17 to 25 gallons of water on average, but the exact amount of water used will depend on the type of showerhead you use as well as the length of your shower.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
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