Five Steps to Combat a Rapidly Rising Water Bill

A Little Plumbing Detective Work Can Save you a lot of Money

It’s a regular Tuesday. You drive home from work, and right when you’re almost to your house, you swing by your mailbox. Your mailbox is full of catalogues, bills, junk mail; at first, nothing looks amiss. You go inside, kick off your shoes, grab a snack, and sit down on the couch to pet your cat. You turn on the TV, and start cracking open those bills to see your damage. Electric, cable, phone, all typical, no surprise charges. Then you see the water bill. That’s when things get weird. Your typically $40-$60 water bill, is suddenly showing numbers you don’t comprehend. Is there an extra charge in there? Is this a typo? You call the water company and they graciously explain that the unprecedented amount you see on your bill is no mistake. You hang up in disbelief. It’s time to take action. What should you do next?

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There are lots of steps you can to find out what’s jacking up your water bill and combating it. Here are five tried and tested methods to help you diagnose and fix your high water bill issues.

1. Assess Your Usage

Chances are, if your water bill goes up drastically from usage, you’ll be able to pinpoint why. But that’s not always true. So before you get the water company on the horn and start asking questions, ask yourself and your family a few questions first. Have you recently installed any new appliances, or picked up any new hobbies that require water usage? Talk to your kids and your spouse, make sure they haven’t started taking daily hour long showers. Any notable change in your household that could be responsible should be looked at and ruled out. If you can’t rule it out, ease up on it for a month and see if that helps the bill go down.

2. Check Your Water Meter

Now it’s time to put on your detective cap, and get to work. Your water meter can tell you a lot about your water usage, so locating and checking that is the best first step you can take. If you don’t know where your water meter is off hand, you can call the water company to find out. Once you’ve found the meter, make sure all of the water using appliances in your home are off. Then grab a wrench, so you can easily loosen the bolt on the meter lid. There is a wire that connects the meter to the lid, so when you go to lift the lid, make sure to be careful so you don’t damage the wire. If you break it, you buy it! Once the lid is off, find the meter dial, which will be the round, clock-looking device. If there’s water in the meter, you may have to bail it out, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there is any problem. Groundwater in your meter is normal. Once you’re looking at the dial, check the triangle on the front of the meter, known as the low flow indicator, to see if it’s moving. If it is moving, and all of your appliance are off, you have a leak! Or maybe an appliance has been left on your forgot about. Either way, now it’s time to find out where that low flow is coming from!

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3. Find Leaks!

The final step to troubleshooting your high water bill, is to find those leaks! Once you’ve ruled out personal usage as a cause, and determined from your low flow meter that there is indeed some water running, now you have to find out where. Sinks are typically pretty easy to tell if there’s a leak. It’s hard to miss that dripping! Toilets and service lines however, can be much sneakier. Checking for toilet leaks is typically simple and inexpensive. If the toilet has been recently flushed, wait 5-10 minutes. Next, take off the tank cover. If the water level in the tank too high and spilling into the overflow tube, you’ve discovered your leak! Wasn’t that easy? If nothing seems amiss, but you still think you may have a leak, the next step is to put food coloring or a leak detector tablet in the tank. Wait half an hour, and if your toilet bowl has colored water in it when the time is up, you have a toilet leak.

Service lines are a little trickier to diagnose leaks in. With service lines, you may not be able to tell definitively, but if you have any of the following issues consistently, you may have a service line leak:

● Unexplained puddles near your water line.

● Wet ground and mud in your yard between the meter vault and your house.

● Even when all water is off in your home, you hear water running, or hissing coming from the direction of your main shut off valve.

● Low water pressure

If you find yourself suffering from these issues, it may be time to call South West Plumbing!