Why Is My Water Bill So High?
If you are like most people, your water bill is about the same each month. Suddenly getting a high water bill might seem like a mistake on the part of the utility company or it could be that your usage went up. There might be a simple explanation for the discrepancy. If there isn’t, then it’s time to start looking for the source of the water loss.
Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, a high water bill can end stretching your budget. It’s even worse when it keeps getting higher each month. If a leak is the cause of the price hike, it also means a precious resource is going to waste. It’s important to find the cause of the increased cost of water as quickly as possible. If there’s a leak in your water delivery system, fixing it sooner instead of later could prevent losing even more precious water.
9 Possible Causes of a High Water Bill
- Changes in Water Use
It only takes one change in how you use water to add up to a lot more usage. Also, since the water bill is usually for the previous month, people sometimes forget that they had a reason for using more water. For instance, you might have filled up a swimming pool, installed a new lawn sprinkler, or had a house guest.
Have the kids been home for summer break? If so, that’s about 40 more hours of showers, hand washing, and toilet flushes than there would be during a school week. Plus, any time they spend topping off the swimming pool or playing with the water hose adds to your water consumption too. Sometimes it’s the small things you don’t think about that add up to a lot of water use and cost.
During cold weather, homeowners often let their faucets drip to prevent their pipes from freezing. Letting multiple faucets drip adds up to a lot more water use than one dripping faucet. Talk to a plumber about other solutions to freezing pipes that don’t end up wasting water.
Think about any new water-consuming appliances you’ve installed, too. Larger capacity washing machines, a new dishwasher, or other equipment might take a lot more water than your older ones. Maybe you’re just using them more often for some reason. To minimize this kind of water usage, look for energy-efficient models that use less water. They may cost a little more initially, but they’ll end up saving you money and saving water in the long run.
- Outdated Fixtures & Toilets
There are lots of historic homes throughout San Diego, and a lot of outdated plumbing to go with them. While these homes offer a lot of charm with their historic architecture, outdated plumbing often contributes to the problem of water loss. When new buyers purchase these homes, they don’t consider the old fixtures and toilets as problematic. If they seem to be working, they assume everything is fine. If you buy a historic home, you might be paying high water bills from the start.
If you purchased an older home, find out if the faucets, toilets, showerheads, and other fixtures have been replaced. If not, opt for new water-saving toilets and fixtures and watch to see if your water bills go down.
- Leaky Toilets
Toilets get used a lot in the average household, making them a primary cause of water leaks. A toilet that runs longer than normal or that has a leak can lead to a significant loss of water each month. One simple way to tell if yours is leaking is to listen closely when it shouldn’t be running water. Any sounds like water dripping, hissing, or other sounds can mean there’s a leak inside the tank.
Another test that is often used by plumbers is the dye test. You can run the test using food coloring or a dye tablet from the hardware store. Put the dye in the tank and wait for about 15 or 20 minutes to check the toilet bowl. If there’s any dye in the bowl, it means there’s a leak letting the water flow through.
- Leaky Faucets
A high water bill might be a clue that the leak in your faucet isn’t as minor as you thought. Those tiny drips add up, wasting gallons of water each day. Fortunately, a leaky faucet is easy to spot and, often, easy to fix. Check all the faucets and showerheads in your house including those in guest rooms, the basement, or other areas you don’t use daily. In most cases, replacing a rubber washer will take care of the leak. At most, you might need a new faucet or showerhead. It’s a minor repair in comparison to the money you will pay in wasted water over time.
- An Irrigation Leak
This type of leak isn’t as easy to spot as a dripping faucet. Irrigation systems used during the hot summer months take a lot of additional water even when they work efficiently. When they aren’t, they could end up using a lot more water than needed. All it takes is a small crack or a loose joint to cause major water loss. The problem is that the water can leak out even when the system is turned off. If your irrigation system is buried, it may take some detective work to find the source of trouble.
Signs of an irrigation leak are similar to those of a lateral line leak; damp patches or areas of lush grass growth are common indicators that a leak exists. You might need to contact a professional plumber to determine the source and type of the leak and to replace the damaged lines.
Another common problem with irrigation systems is that the timers don’t always work properly. They may turn on more frequently and/or wait too long before cutting off. Monitor your system to see if it needs re-programming or if the timer needs to be replaced.
- Lateral Line Leaks
Lateral lines are the pipes that feed water from your incoming water to your home. A leak can occur in any place where there is a crack, a hole, or a loose joint. Sometimes older pipes decay with age and develop cracks or holes. Tree root intrusion is another common cause. These types of leaks are usually much more severe than irrigation leaks. A really high water bill might be an indicator that you need to call a plumber. They can tell you your options for traditional trench pipe replacement or trenchless pipe lining. The latter offers several advantages in those situations where it is an option.
- Sump Pump with Water Powered Back-Up
Some houses need a sump pump to keep water from flowing into the basement or crawl spaces. But the type of sump pump you use could result in you using a lot of water to keep your home dry. A water-powered pump doesn’t require electricity or a battery backup. Instead, it connects to your water source and requires more water pressure to pump out the water. Homeowners looking for an energy-efficient sump pump might choose one powered by water. But the cost of city water that it takes to operate is more expensive than the electricity that an electrical one uses. Plus, it wastes more water.
- You Have a Water Softener
Sometimes a water softener will cause a high water bill when it gets stuck in the regeneration or backwash cycle. These systems use water to clean the filter and discharge the wastewater into the ground. When the system gets stuck and repeats the cycle, it results in higher water use.
- Inefficient Water Use
Sometimes it isn’t the equipment or the plumbing that causes a waste of water. Sometimes it’s the way the homeowner misuses water that causes the problem. We take appliances for granted without thinking about whether they are water-efficient. Some ways you might be overconsuming water include:
- Washing laundry when you don’t have a full load
- Using a top-loading washing machine instead of a modern front-loading style that uses about half as much water
- Over-watering lawns and landscaping
- Use of water-consuming recreational toys and pools
- Washing dishes by hand
- Running water over frozen meat and other frozen foods to thaw them
- Taking longer showers than necessary
- Running water while shaving or brushing teeth
- Repeatedly running out cold water while waiting for the hot water to reach the faucet
What to Do If You Get a High Water Bill
Your first instinct is to think the water company made a mistake on your water bill. Most of the time, that isn’t the case. Sometimes there are some strange reasons that water disappears, like a cat flushing the toilet to play with the water or your neighbor hooking up a hose to your outdoor faucet to fill their pool while you’re at work. These things do happen, but it’s more likely to be one of the issues listed above. The next step is to figure out which one.
– Start by checking all the faucets, showerheads, and toilets inside your home. Listen for the sound of running or dripping water. Also, note if there are any wet spots on the floor including around your water heater. Notice if there are any spots of mold on the walls or ceiling.
– A leaky water heater often goes unnoticed until it gets severe or stops working. Check yours at the top where the water enters and leaves the tank. These tubes are the most vulnerable to leaks due to high water pressure. Check the pressure relief valve near the top and see if it’s leaking. An older, worn valve might be leaking and need to be replaced.
Check the bottom of the heater. Look at the drain valve for escaping water. If there’s a puddle around the bottom, there’s probably a leak inside. Sometimes the only way to detect a leak is by sound. Listen to see if there is a hissing sound or the sound of water dripping or running. Even if there is no sign of a leak on the outside, there could be a break inside the tank. You might need to replace your water heater tank.
If you confirm that your water heater is leaking, shut off the breaker that supplies the power (if it’s electric) or shut off the supply switch if it’s gas. Turn off the water supply to the water heater and call a plumber. If you need to replace the entire water heater, invest in a modern, energy-efficient model that uses less water.
– Turn off all the water in and outside your home and look at your water meter. It should have a triangle-shaped dial or silver wheel that rotates when water flows through the meter. If the indicator is moving, you probably have a leak.
– If there aren’t any signs of a leak indoors, go outside. Look for damp spots on your lawn or areas where the grass is greener.
Even if you can’t find any signs of a leak, call a plumber who specializes in leak detection. If the meter test indicated a leak, it could be anywhere in the pipes running beneath the ground. Plumbers have special equipment that allows them to find the source of leaks without digging.
You shouldn’t wait to see if you get another high water bill next month before finding the source of the problem. Often, water leaks result from damaged pipes that have gotten worse over time. Letting them go will only lead to more damage and greater water loss.
Contact Best San Diego Leak Detection for Expert Services
Best San Diego Leak Detection is an award-winning leak detection company serving all of Southern California. We use the most advanced techniques and tools to diagnose the source of your leak and provide you with all of the options for repair, replacement, or maintenance. If a high water bill has you worried about a leak, contact us today. We are San Diego’s most trusted and reliable leak detection company.August 26, 2019 Categories: