It is fairly common for your water bill to fluctuate a bit from month to month, as there are some months when you may use more water than others. Your water bills will typically always be higher in the summer than in winter due to watering your lawn and garden. However, your water bill still should never suddenly spike from one month to the next. If you do ever notice that your water bill is abnormally high, the first thing to do is check the bill just to make sure that your water provider didn’t raise their rates. If the rates didn’t go up, then it is likely that your high water bill is a result of one of these issues.
Slab or Pipe Leaks
A slab leak is a serious problem and can waste a huge amount of water in a short time. A slab leak is when the main water line that runs underneath your home’s foundation is leaking, and this type of leak can be extremely difficult to spot. If there is a severe slab leak, you may hear the sound of water running underneath your basement floor. Slab leaks can also sometimes result in the flooring around the water line being warmer than the surrounding area. If you do suspect your home has a slab leak, it is essential that you contact a plumber immediately. Professional plumbers have sensitive equipment like microphones that can be used to quickly identify slab leaks and precisely pinpoint the location of the leak.
A leaky water line inside your home also has the potential to waste lots of water, but this type of leak is something you will notice quickly. Things you’ll want to look for include bubbling or peeling paint, peeling wallpaper, yellow or brown water spots on walls or ceilings and visible mold growth. If you do notice any of these signs, you should immediately close your main water shut-off valve so that the leak doesn’t cause more water damage, and then you should contact a plumber so they can find the leak and perform a leak repair.
Leaky Sprinkler or Irrigation System
Leaks in an underground sprinkler or irrigation system can also be difficult to spot. A sprinkler head that is leaking will usually be obvious as water will constantly pool up around the head. If the leak is underground, you may notice that one part of your lawn is suddenly much greener and growing faster than the rest of the grass. A soggy or spongy area of your yard is also usually a good indicator that your sprinkler system is leaking.
Leaking toilets can waste much more water than you might think. On average, a leaky toilet will waste around 200 gallons of water per day, or approximately 6,000 gallons a month. A leaky toilet tank or bowl will quickly become obvious as you will often see water pooling around the toilet. You may also see visible water damage on the floor or the wall behind the toilet. Other good indicators are if the floor around the toilet feels spongy. You may notice that the flooring near the toilet is beginning to warp.
A much more common problem is when some water continuously leaks out of the tank into the bowl. This can result if the toilet flapper is worn out or otherwise doesn’t seal the tank properly. Another possibility is that the float is not set properly, which can allow too much water to fill the bowl. When this happens, the toilet will continually run, and water will leak out into the bowl through the overflow tube. The overflow tube itself could also be cracked, which will allow some water to constantly leak into the bowl.
All of these leaks are something that you can easily check for by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank when the toilet isn’t running. After putting in the food coloring, wait around 20 minutes and then check to see if the water in the bowl is colored. If the food coloring did make its way from the tank to the bowl, you’ll want to contact a plumber as it is a sure sign that the toilet is leaking and needs to be repaired.
A dripping faucet won’t waste as much water as a leaking toilet, but it can still cause your water bill to be much higher than normal. If the faucet drips once per second, it will usually waste around 20 gallons of water per day. The average home uses around 80 gallons of water per day, which means that just one dripping faucet could potentially raise your water bill by 25% or more.
Malfunctioning Water Softener
If your home has a water softener, it could also be the reason that your water bill is suddenly so high. Water softeners work by using charged resin beads to attract and capture calcium and magnesium ions. Each resin bead in the softener tank can only capture one mineral ion, which is why the unit needs to be backflushed occasionally so that it can continue to work properly. When the tank needs to be flushed, it draws in brine from the adjacent brine tank. The sodium ions in the brine cause the resin beads to let go of the mineral ions. Fresh water is then drawn into the tank to flush all of the mineral ions down the drain.
Whenever the tank needs to be flushed, the backflush valve opens to allow more fresh water into the unit. In some cases, the backflush valve can break or get stuck open. This will lead to water constantly flowing through the unit and out into your sewer system, which can potentially waste several thousand gallons of water in a month.
The drain line from your water softener will typically run to a nearby floor drain. If you suspect your water softener is constantly flushing, you should monitor the drain line. If you notice that water is continually running out of the drain line, you should turn the softener off and immediately contact a plumber to have the unit inspected.
Faulty Water Meter
This last one is quite rare, but there are times when a water meter may be faulty and register that you’re using more water than you really are. This is something you can easily check for by using your hose and a 5-gallon bucket. The first thing you want to do is shut off all of your indoor and outdoor plumbing fixtures and then make a note of how many gallons the meter shows you’ve currently used. You should then fill the 5-gallon bucket up to the top and immediately shut off the hose once the bucket is full. You can then check your meter again to see what the reading is. If the meter reading has gone up by more than 5 gallons, then the meter is likely faulty and incorrectly measuring your water usage. In this situation, you’ll want to contact your water company and have them inspect and test your meter.
At Cozy Home Services, we specialize in all types of plumbing repairs and can help you identify and overcome any issues that are causing your water bill to be abnormally high. We can also help with any of your heating or cooling needs as well as electrical panel upgrades or repairs. For more information or to schedule a service call in the Vacaville area, contact Cozy Home Services today.