Why did my water bill suddenly jump?

Water bill increases

For many people their monthly or quarterly water bill is pretty consistent with the occasional bump for watering the lawn in the summer or filling the pool.  If you notice an unexpected spike there may be a plumbing problem to blame.  There are a few common areas we recommend you check first to see if you can find the source of your increased water usage.

Toilets – a leak in the toilet can waste up to 5 gallons of water per minute which could cause your water bill to jump up nearly $100!  First check each toilet in the house to see if it’s running.  If you find a running toilet you can simply investigate that one further to fix the problem.  If you can’t find one that’s running, then you’ll need to check the fill valve and the flapper in each toilet.  The fill valve should be connected to a small tube which keeps the water level about 1” below the overflow tube.  If that tube has become disconnected or faulty, the water from the fill valve will overflow down the overflow pipe continuously.  If everything checks out ok with the fill valve, move on to the flapper.  The best way to determine if the flapper is the problem is to add a few drops of food coloring to the toilet water, wait 15-20 minutes, then see if the color of the water has changed.  If it has than the flapper should be replaced.

Dripping Faucets – if the toilet proves not to be the issue check all of the faucets in the house.  Even a slow dripping faucet could be wasting a tremendous amount of water.  To address a dripping faucet, begin by turning off the water supply under the sink, the next step is to remove the set screw and handle, and then check the adjusting ring inside.  If it appears loose, tighten with needle-nose pliers, if it’s already tight, continue on with the process of replacing the seats and springs. To access these parts, remove the round metal stem as well as the rubber and plastic insert and the ball assembly.  If necessary, replace these parts as well.  Now you should see small circles inside the valve, these are the seat and springs.  You’ll need to use either an Allen wrench or a flat head screwdriver to pry these out and replace them.  Once you’ve replaced these, you’ll need to reassemble your faucet by replacing everything in reverse order of the removal process.

If you’ve inspected your toilets and faucets and not found an obvious cause for your water bill to have increased, consider whether you might have had extra guests in your home, kids home for school breaks, or possibly a water softener that is cycling continuously.  The least likely possibility is a broken water pipe as you would likely know right away if that were the issue, but it never hurts to give the pipes in the basement or crawlspace a quick look to confirm everything is operating smoothly.  While you’re down there take a look at your water heater and make sure it doesn’t have a leak that’s gone unnoticed either.

In most cases you’ll find a toilet or faucet is to blame for your water bill increase.  If you aren’t able to locate the problem our team from All Star Plumbing and Restoration can certainly help you get to the bottom of it.

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