Why Is Your Water Bill Suddenly So High?

Leaks can be sneaky. They may show up in places that appear to have no relation to the actual source of the leak, or you may not have any visible signs of a leak at all, but your water bill seems unusually high. What's a homeowner to do when they're experiencing leaking without an obvious source?

How to Tell if You Have an Active Leak

You can conduct a home leak detection test to find out if you have a leak that's active. First, turn off all water-consuming appliances. If your refrigerator has an ice maker, make sure that's not being used. Don't run any water in the home for approximately a half hour.

After that half hour has passed without anyone using any water in the house, go to your home's water meter. Check the needle's reading on the dial and take a note of it and the time. After another 15 to 30 minutes of no water use, go back and check the meter again and verify the meter's reading.  Has it changed? If so, you most likely have an active water leak.

You think you may have a leak--now what? Toilet tanks are frequently a source of leaks, so it makes sense to check there first. A leaky toilet can squander hundreds of gallons of water a day. To find out if the toilet is the source of your high water bill:

  • After the last flush, wait about 10 minutes
  • Take off the tank cover. Does the water level look higher than it should be? If it's spilling into the overflow drain, you likely have a leak.
  • Put food coloring into the tank water until there's a visible color change.
  • Check the toilet after 30 minutes. If the colored water has found its way into the bowl, there's a leak. 

If the toilet doesn't seem to be the source of the leak, look over any exposed pipes in the house for signs of water and touch them to check if they feel wet. If you find a small leak, the pipe joint may need to be tightened or sealed, a task many homeowners can carry out on their own.

If you're unable to find a leak source but your water bills continue to go up inexplicably, you may have a service line leak that's underground. A plumbing service, like Sunset Professional Plumbing, can conduct a leak detection service to locate leaks in the home. In addition to a general visual inspection, they can perform a video pipe inspection or use high-quality listening equipment to find the source of the leak. Once it's found and stopped, you can have your water bill back under control in no time.