Getting a utility bill that is uncharacteristically high can be frustrating. Utility bills may seem like they are in a different language and are hard to challenge. Water bills can be especially hard to wrap your head around since most people have no concept of how much water they use. If your water bill has slowly crept higher, or if it has spiked in the last month, the problem is usually one of two things. The water meter may be reporting incorrect measurements, or you may have a leak in the plumbing.
Start by looking at your water bill. The bill will list the number of gallons used for a specific time period. Divide the number of gallons used by the number of days in the bills’ time period. This will give you the average number of gallons used per day. Each person in a home typically uses 80 to 100 gallons of water a day. Therefore, if you have four people in your home you would expect to use around 400 gallons a day. If your water bill indicates a significantly higher daily water amount than the typical amount, there may be a problem with your water meter. If this is the case, then call your water company. Do not attempt to take apart or fix your water meter. Water companies have tools and equipment, such as a hydrostatic test pump, to check the precision of your water meter.
Another problem that a high water bill may indicate is an unseen water leak. There are many pipes running through your house, and under it, which could be leaking without any indication. In order to check for a leak, turn off all running water in your home. Think about all the appliances that may be using water. Ice machines, water softeners, and HVAC humidifiers regularly use water. Once you are confident that no water is running in the home, then look at the water meter. Most meters have a leak indicator. This looks like a little dial or a spinning wheel. If the leak indicator is still spinning, then you may have a leak in your home. First, walk around the perimeter of your home and look for soggy spots. Gaskets in toilet tanks are a common spot for leaks, so check those as well. If you don’t see any visible signs of a leak, then call a plumbing professional.
It may be tempting to ignore an increase in your water bill, but it could indicate a larger problem. The quicker that you can identify the problem the better, especially if there is a plumbing leak in your home.