Receiving a high water bill can lead to frustration and confusion, especially if you’re unsure about why your bill is high. High water bills can be due to a number of reasons, and on this page you can learn about some of the most common causes.
Summer Time Peaks
Generally speaking, water consumption is higher in summer. As an example, running a typical sprinkler from a standard garden hose for one hour uses about 1,020 gallons of water; if you run it three times per week that is about 12,240 gallons per month.
A leaking toilet or a toilet that continues to run after being flushed is one of the most common household leaks. A continuously running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons a day and can double a family’s typical water use and bill. You should check for the most common leak: a deteriorated or defected flush valve (flapper) ball at the bottom of the toilet tank. If it does not make a tight seal, water will leak into the toilet bowl.
To check for this:
The second most common type of leak has to do with an improperly adjusted or broken fill (ballcock) valve. To check for this, take the lid off of the toilet tank, flush, and see if water is draining into the overflow tubes when the tank is full.
Another cause of a high water bill is a leaky faucet. Depending on the severity of the leak, a faucet may waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day. Check each faucet individually for signs of visible leaks.
Place an empty cup underneath the faucet and check it every few hours. Don’t forget to check for leaks in cabinets below the sink and at outside spigots too.
Home and commercial irrigation systems are a common source of high water use. Watering times generally double during the summer months compared to the winter. Automated irrigation systems should be checked regularly to be sure they are functioning properly and have no leaks or broken sprinkler heads. If a sprinkler valve sticks on, it could waste an extremely large quantity of water. Many times the irrigation timer may not be programmed properly causing too long and too often watering.
Leaks, whether unseen or unfixed, can waste hundreds and even thousands of gallons of water. It is important to routinely check your plumbing for leaky faucets, toilets, and outside taps and irrigation lines. If you do have a leak, and receive a high water bill, you can apply for an adjustment to your bill once you have documentation of the necessary repairs. For more information on leak adjustments, please see our Leak Adjustment webpage.