The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

THE METER BYPASS

There are many ways to bypass a Utility Company meter. I have encountered a few of them, but the most effective one, that I think of, was a gas meter in the Royal Oak, Michigan area.

We (Clifton Engineering Company) had a contract with Consumers Power Company to renew gas services in the North Detroit area. This was not the usual type of renewal where you run a new line and retire the old steel one. All of the old services were 3/4 inch uncoated steel pipe that had rusted to the point that some of them were leaking. Our contract was to disconnect the service at the house and at the main, in the street, then insert a 1/2 inch copper line inside the old 3/4 inch steel. We would then connect the copper line to the meter and to the main.

On one occasion the crew was unable to get the copper pipe to go all the way through to the meter. They pulled it back out and measured to find where the obstruction was. Upon excavation they found a tee that had been installed, in the service, and a line that ran under the lawn, around the house, and through the basement wall, directly to the burner of the furnace.

That was about the most subtle method of by-passing a gas meter that could be imagined. The gas company had no way of knowing that the people had installed a new gas furnace because the meter was outside the house and nothing in that area had been disturbed. There was no change in the average gas consumption because the gas to the water heater and stove was still metered, same as before.

Needless to say, when our men hooked up the new copper line, no more gas went to the furnace through the guy's hidden bypass.

That reminds me of the nice little old lady that called the electric company to ask if they would put one of those "jumpers" on her meter, like the one that her neighbor had.

Speaking of jumpers; We had a situation in our home, in Rossmoyne, Ohio that beat a jumper all to pieces. The house was almost 100 years old when we bought it. So, surely it must have been wired after it was originally built. In any event, there was one circuit that fed some base board receptacles in the living and dining room. If the fuse, protecting that circuit was removed and then a light, connected to it was turned on, the light would not come on, of course, but the meter would run backwards. I never did figure out how such a thing could take place and I didn't try, very hard, to find out.

I always tried to make it a point to look at the meter a week or so before it was time for it to be read and if it looked like it was going to be a pretty heavy billing, I would remove the fuse and turn on that particular floor lamp. I would leave things that way until the meter showed, what I considered to be, a reasonable kilowatt hour consumption, and then I would put the fuse back in. I was always very careful not to allow the meter reader see the meter disc turning in the wrong direction.

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