What Causes A Sudden Spike In Your Water Bill?
Water is a major utility in any city, making it a significant concern for homeowners, renters, and commercial property owners alike. A high water bill is troublesome not only because of the financial cost, but also because it indicates that precious water may be going to waste somewhere. We all want to be responsible homeowners and keep bills and waste to a minimum.
According to the EPA, the average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of wasted water each year, and ten percent of homes leak 90 gallons or more per day. When your water bill is higher than normal, the best way to diagnose such problems is to call an expert plumbing service for a detailed inspection of your plumbing lines and appliances.
Here is a list of causes leading to inflated water bills:
Leaky Faucet or Fixture
A common cause of high water bills is a leaky faucet or fixture. If you have a dripping leak in one of your sinks, a bathtub faucet, or a showerhead, you could be wasting a lot of water. The heavier the leak, the more water gets wasted, and the higher the water bill will be.
Luckily, this problem is very easy to detect and almost as easy to fix. A simple visual check of your faucets, shower heads, and other fixtures is all it takes to identify a leak at the fixture. You should be able to see if one of them is leaking. The most common cause of a faucet leak is a faulty rubber washer in the faucet handle. In most cases, you can shut off the water to the leaky faucet, unscrew the handle, remove the bad washer, and replace it with a new one. If you are intimidated by the process, any handyman or plumber can do it for you.
Leaky or Running Toilet
Did you know that some older toilets use as many as seven gallons of water PER FLUSH? Toilets use more water than any other fixture in our homes. If they are not working correctly, they will use even more water. A continuously running toilet can waste hundreds of gallons a day. That can add up to a serious spike in your monthly water bill. If your water bill seems especially high lately, your toilets are the first place you should check.
Each time you flush your toilet, all the water from the toilet tank transfers into the bowl. Before it can flush effectively again, the toilet has to refill the tank. When the toilet will not stop running, it’s because something is preventing the toilet tank from refilling effectively. The number one cause of unusually high water bills is a toilet that continues to run after it has been flushed.
Fortunately, the causes of and solutions to toilet leaks are usually pretty simple. The most common cause of a toilet leak is a damaged flush valve (flapper) in the toilet’s water tank.
Here is how to check for a damaged flush valve:
Remove the lid on the water tank. Flush the toilet and wait for it to refill.
If the tank is not refilling, you have a serious leak. The flush valve is not forming a seal and water is pouring into the toilet bowl and down the drain. You have found at least one source of your high water bill.
If the tank refills, the next step is to put some food coloring (or a dye tablet you get at a hardware store) into the tank.
Wait 20 minutes and check on the toilet. If there is dye in the toilet bowl, you have a slow leak.
Low flow shower heads reduce both water and energy usage, since reducing the amount of water used by the shower will also reduce the amount of energy used to heat it. In doing so, low flow showerheads also reduce the amount of money spent on utilities.
A low flow shower head prevents and manages water waste. As recently, shower heads typically delivered water at a rate of around 5 to 8 gallons per minute! Today, the standard for a regular shower head is around 2 and a half gallons per minute. Low flow shower heads will typically deliver water at around 2 gallons per minute.
Hidden leaks tend to be the main cause of rising water bills. The longer they last, the more water they waste and the more they drive up your bills. Unfortunately, hidden leaks can do worse than simply hiking up your water bill. They can lead to mold growth, water stains, rot, and other home problems. These problems can affect your home’s resale value and even your health.
Finding hidden leaks is as simple as going out of your way to look for them. Consider the areas of your home that you don’t look at as often. Check under sinks, near outdoor plumbing fixtures, behind your toilet, or in the basement. Check these areas regularly so no leaks go unnoticed.
Many Southern California homes are older and have a long history attached to them. But with this comes the possibility of older, outdated bath and kitchen fixtures. While this does not usually cause a spike in your water bill, it can account for ongoing high water bills. If you move from a newer home into an older home, you may find that your older home uses a lot more water. That is because in recent years, there have been numerous efficiency improvements made to common water fixtures, such as new-model aerators for faucets, low-flow water-saving toilets, and water-saving shower heads.
Old toilets can use three times as much water as newer high efficiency toilets. Toilets installed before 1995 can use up to 6 or 7 gallons per flush. In contrast, after 1995 toilets were required to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush.
Sometimes you can see an unexpected spike in your water bill after purchasing a new appliance or installing new equipment. Washing machines are an obvious source of water use. But there are other appliances you might not suspect, like a new freezer. Installing equipment like a new water heater or sprinkler system could also use more water. In general, newer appliances tend to be more efficient. But if you want to be sure, look for high efficiency equipment to save on water and electricity.
Any fixture or appliance with a WaterSense label is 20% more efficient than comparable products. They achieve that efficiency via ecologically-friendly, future-facing technology and quality performance. If you are going to install a new appliance in your home, find one with the WaterSense label. Fixtures and appliances that are not WaterSense approved may not be as efficient as you would like them to be.
Not all leaks occur indoors. If you have an irrigation system for your landscaping, a line crack or loose joint could allow water to leak even when the irrigation system is off. Leaks can occur anywhere in the irrigation system, so you will have to do a careful inspection to track it down. One sign to look for is an area of your yard that is unusually damp or that has unusually lush growth.
To fix this kind of leak, you may need to consult a professional plumber to find the location of the leak and to fix or replace the affected irrigation lines.
Lateral Line Leaks
In some cases, one of the underground pipes feeding water from your metered connection to your home may have a crack or loose joint. The causes of these leaks vary, but things such as pipe age, seismic activity, tree root intrusion, and animal activity are often contributing factors.
This problem, while similar to an irrigation leak, is usually much more severe. When trying to tell if the leak is in your irrigation line or your lateral line water supply pipe, the amount of extra water consumption noted on your utility bill can serve as an indicator.
For these leaks, the best solution is to contact a professional. A professional can recommend the best solution for the problem—such as traditional trench & replace, trenchless pipe lining, or pipe bursting.
This is probably more of a long-term issue than a spike in your water bill, but it could be costing you money. Here are a few bad habits to avoid:
Longer than necessary showers
Keeping the faucet running while you brush your teeth or shave
Overwatering your lawn
Using washing machines for half- or quarter-loads, as opposed to waiting for full laundry loads
Using top-loading laundry machines, which consume as much as 200% more water than modern, front-loading laundry machines
Using running water to thaw frozen foods instead of taking them out to thaw ahead of time or just placing them in a bowl of warm water
Washing dishes by hand. Running water while washing a load of dishes consumes 4-5 times more water than dishwashers.
Recent Increase in Water Usage
Sometimes the spike in your water bill is not a mystery if you stop and think about it. If you are using more water than usual, your bill will be higher. For instance, if you find yourself taking more baths instead of showers, you could be driving up your water bill. Filling a bathtub uses a lot more water than a quick shower. If you are just taking longer showers, that could affect your bill, too.
Broken Water Meter
You will have to contact your utility company if you suspect the water meter is broken. They will come out and check it for you, and if it is broken, they will replace it for you and negotiate regarding the spiked water bill.
Know When to Give Best Plumbing a Call
Saving water at home does not require any significant cost outlay. Although there are water-saving appliances and water conservation systems such as rain barrels, drip irrigation and on-demand water heaters which are more expensive, the bulk of water saving methods can be achieved at little cost.
To learn more about the many factors that affect your water bill and usage, as well as what you can do to limit your consumption and save money, contact Best Plumbing Services at 951-788-1321. Our plumbing and water pipe professionals are available to assist you with all of your Riverside County home plumbing repair and replacement needs. Located in Riverside, California we are family owned and operated with over 10 years of experience. We take pride in our service and expect each job to be completed as if it were our own home or business. Our Licensed Plumbers and Technicians will be professional, clean and polite.