After you’ve been in your house for over a year, you can often begin to predict the approximate cost of your utility bills each month. You know to expect a rise in your electricity usage in summer and winter, when your HVAC system is running more often, and you know to expect an increase in water usage in the summer when your lawn needs to be watered more often. But sometimes, your utility bill can spike unexpectedly, and you might have a hard time determining the cause. Keep reading to learn a few possible causes of a spike in your water bill, from a plumbing contractor in Sacramento.
Possible Causes of High Water Bills
Increased Water Usage
It might sound silly to name this as an “unexplained” increase in your water bill; after all, you know that increasing your water consumption will increase your bill. However, many people overlook their increased water usage, or simply don’t realize how much small changes in your normal routines can alter your water bill. For example, did you have family in town during the last billing cycle? If so, this would equate to more baths and showers, more toilet usage, more handwashing, more dishes (and, therefore, more use of the kitchen sink and dishwasher), and even more loads of laundry in your washing machine. This all contributes to a higher water bill during that cycle.
When your water bill comes in higher than you expected, it’s important to consider anything that may have been different during that billing cycle. Did your pool get a lot more use than normal, and you needed to add extra water to it? Did you put in new sod or other plants in your landscaping that required extra watering? The reason for the change may be more obvious than you think, after you give it some careful thought.
An old meter can sometimes provide an inaccurate readout to the utility company. If your meter is getting on in years, it may be worth contacting your municipality to test or replace your meter. Note, however, that this is a rare problem—at least when it comes to higher readouts. Most meters will slow down with age and show less water passing through, rather than showing an excessive amount of water passing through.
However, if you think this may be the problem, you can calculate your average daily usage by dividing the number on your water bill by the number of days in that billing cycle. Then, check it against average water usage statistics. The average American uses about 88 gallons a day, so multiply this number by the number of people in your household to see if your daily usage is close to the average. If it’s reading at abnormally different levels, and you feel like you’re using an average amount of water, it may be worth having someone come out to look at your meter.
A Hidden Leak
You might think leaks are quite obvious. After all, wouldn’t you hear the dripping, see the spray, notice the moisture? While this might be true sometimes, many leaks can remain hidden for a long, long time. The majority of your plumbing isn’t visible to you, and is hidden in the walls and under the floor instead. When one of these pipes forms a leak, it can go on for months, even continuing to get worse, without you being aware of it.
If your water usage has spiked, and it doesn’t go down with the next billing cycle, then you can feel confident that this is not a one-time event like increased water usage from visitors staying in your home. Odds are, you have a leak hidden somewhere in your plumbing that is driving up your water bill every month—and there’s a good chance that it’s just going to get worse if you don’t address it soon.
Hidden leaks can waste far more gallons of water than you realize, especially if it’s a large supply line, such as your underground water main. It’s important to find and repair these leaks as soon as possible, not only to get your water bill back under control, but to prevent extensive water damage to your property. The longer it goes without being fixed, the more likely you are to experience rot, mold, mildew, and other moisture-related damage to your home.
Finding these leaks can be tricky to do on your own. Contact the leak detection experts at Bullseye Leak Detection to get help pinpointing the exact location of your leak. We can help you find and repair leaks throughout your plumbing, including slab repair in Sacramento for those pipes buried beneath your foundation. Call now to schedule an inspection.
Reasons for a High Water Bill
Nobody likes to get a high utility bill. Sometimes, you expect a spike in that monthly expense. In the heat of the summer, you know you’re going to turn up the AC. In the dead of winter, your heating bill goes up. But if your water bill has spiked and you’re not sure the cause of it, keep reading to learn a few possible reasons, many of which are related to your plumbing in Sacramento, CA.
Toilets are a significant water user in your home, accounting for roughly 31% of indoor water usage in the average American home. If that toilet is leaking, it can add hundreds of dollars to your water bill over the months.
Most people recognize a leaky toilet because of how often it runs. If it sounds like your toilet bowl is constantly refilling, you need to start searching for the leak even if you haven’t used it recently. Check the tank flapper, seals, and water line connections to see if you can locate the problem. In most cases, the issue is a faulty flapper, which can be fixed with just a few minutes and a couple of dollars for the correct part.
That steady dripping from your sink isn’t just irritating—it’s wasteful. Check all your faucets and fixtures to locate leaks in these areas. Most faucet leaks are caused by a faulty rubber washer, which is another straightforward and inexpensive fix. It’s much better to spend an afternoon fixing those minor leaks than to continue wasting gallons of water a day!
Main Line Leaks
Unlike the other leaks we’ve discussed, this kind of leak isn’t something you can fix with a trip to a hardware store. Simply locating the leak takes specialized equipment, and digging up and replacing the leaky water main takes an expert to avoid disastrous consequences. If your water bill is high and you’ve noticed unexplainable puddles on your property, a mainline leak may be to blame, and you should contact us right away.
Changes in Water Consumption
If you don’t notice any leaks anywhere in your home, you should carefully consider any recent water consumption changes in your home. Many different factors can cause water bills to spike. Ask yourself the following kinds of questions:
- Did you install new, water-consuming equipment?
- Did you put in new landscaping that required extra watering?
- Have you had to water your lawn more over the last month than usual due to hotter or drier weather?
- Did you have guests staying in your home over the last month?
- All of these are common contributors to a sudden spike in your water bill. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it could be the reason your water consumption increased last month.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to examine your water consumption for bad habits that wastewater. Running your washing machine or dishwasher when they’re half empty, overwatering your lawn, and taking unnecessarily long showers are all everyday habits that waste a significant amount of water. No matter what your bill was, consider ways you can cut down on your water usage.
Save Water, Save Money: Leak Detection Tips
A glass of water at a restaurant might be completely free, but every drop of water that comes from the pipes in your home will push your water meter a little bit higher—and that means a higher water bill. Any amount of water wasted in your home is still water you pay for, so it’s important that you catch any plumbing leaks early on to avoid driving up that water meter. How can you detect plumbing leaks? We provide our best tips for plumbing leak detection in Sacramento in the article below!
Leaky Faucets and Fixtures
Leaky faucets and fixtures like showerheads are often easy to spot. After all, the faucets are right there for you to see, which means you’ll notice that steady dripping. In fact, the sound of it might become a nuisance at times. However, you should also make a point of check those faucets that you might not use regularly, such as ones in the basement, and inspect outside spigots frequently too.
Most leaky faucets and showerheads are caused by worn-out washers. This is a simple, inexpensive fix that you can do on your own in just a few minutes. There’s no reason to allow a leaky faucet to waste gallons of water a day when you can fix it so quickly!
Leaky toilets can be a bit tougher to spot since you won’t always be able to see where the water is leaking. However, they’re one of the most common water wasters in a home. To check your toilets for a leak, start by flushing the toilet. Wait for it to stop refilling, then listen carefully. If you can still hear water trickling, the toilet is leaking.
You should also remove the tank lid to check the water level. If it’s up to the top of the overflow tube, sprinkle some powder on the surface and see if it goes down the overflow tube. If it does, the toilet is leaking. You can fix this type of leak by adjusting the water level with the adjustment screw or clip.
Sometimes silent leaks occur in toilets that can be neither seen nor heard. To check for these, add a few drops of food coloring into the tank of your toilet. Make sure nobody uses the toilet for the next hour, then check the bowl. If food coloring has gotten into the bowl, the toilet is leaking, and you likely need to replace the plunger ball or flapper.
Water-using appliances may also be prone to leaks. Be sure to check all of the following items in your home for leaks regularly:
- Water softener
- Ice maker
- Sprinkler system
- Hot water heater
- Washing machine
These appliances will typically leak around any seals (such as the door to your dishwasher) or in their supply and drain lines. Inspect all of these areas for excessive moisture and signs of leaking.
One final way to determine if there is a water leak anywhere in your house is to perform a meter check. This involves going without water for a couple of hours, so make sure you’re prepared to do this. Shut off all faucets and disconnect any appliances that might use water automatically (like your ice maker). Find your water meter and mark the position of the dial hand, and write down the digits of the meter reading. Wait approximately 2 hours, and make sure you do not use any water in this timeframe.
Then, check the dial on the water meter to see if the hand has moved away from the position you marked previously. Check the reading to see if the digits changed as well. If either of these has changed at all, there is a leak somewhere in your plumbing.
Leak Detection Tips to Reduce Water Waste and Utility Bill
Big or small, a leak in your home’s plumbing will waste water and cost you money. While significant leaks might be easy to spot, smaller leaks can stay hidden for weeks or even months, constantly dripping and driving up your utility bill. If you want to avoid losing money to plumbing leaks, keep reading to get leak detection tips from our plumbing contractor in Sacramento.
Mind Your Meter
Your water meter measures your water usage every month. And while that measurement is bound to fluctuate to a certain extent, sudden spikes in your water bill can be a sign that there’s a leak. Of course, if you can think of a good reason for the bill to be higher this month—like you just put in a new lawn or had a lot of visitors using the water in your home—then that spike probably isn’t anything to be concerned about. But if there isn’t an obvious reason for your water bill to be significantly higher, it’s time to start looking for a leak.
You can use your meter to do this by turning off all faucets and water-using appliances. Record the current reading on your meter, wait about 15 minutes, then recheck the meter. It should have the same reading. If the reading changes, you have at least one leak somewhere in the home. Now, you just need to find where.
Use All Your Senses
When trying to track down the exact location of a leak, it’s essential to use all of your senses. Look for visible signs of a water leak, including any apparent drips or watermarks on the walls or ceiling. Feel for unusual moisture anywhere in the home. Run your hands under sink cabinets and along walls to search for wet spots. You should also be aware of any parts of your home with unusually high humidity. A humid bathroom after you shower is normal, but if your bedroom closet feels humid, there might be a leak hidden in the walls somewhere.
Finally, try listening for a leak. Sometimes, you’ll be able to hear the sound of dripping or spraying from a damaged pipe, even if it’s hidden behind a wall. You can ask for help when doing this as well. Run water to upstairs faucets while someone listens downstairs for any unusual noises from the pipes that run up to those rooms.
If any of your senses indicate a hidden leak, you should contact a plumber to deal with the problem.
Detecting Pool Leaks
If you have a swimming pool that seems to need refilling constantly, then there may be a leak in the pool’s walls. Of course, some evaporation does occur for all pools, so here’s an easy way to test if your water loss is natural or caused by a leak:
- Place a large bucket on the top step of your pool, with a rock inside to help weigh it down.
- Fill the bucket with water until it is level with the pool water around it. Use a piece of tape to mark the water levels both inside and outside the bucket.
- Leave the bucket in the pool for 24 hours. Do not use your pool during this time.
- The next day, check both water levels. Because evaporation will impact both the water inside the bucket and the water outside the bucket equally, both water levels should have dropped by an equal amount. If the water outside the bucket has dropped more than the water inside, your pool has a leak.
Finding the exact leak location in a swimming pool can be tricky, so we encourage you to reach out to our leak detection experts for assistance.
Detecting Slab Leaks
A leak underneath your home’s concrete slab can be tough to detect. While your meter reading will undoubtedly be higher, you likely won’t be able to see any signs of the leak or its location on your own. In some cases, the soil around the leak may become saturated enough to create puddling in the grass above. However, this is not always the case, so your slab leak can continue seeping water into the soil for months or more without providing visible signs aside from a higher water meter reading.
If your water is putting out a higher reading and indicating that there is a leak somewhere in your home, but you are unable to detect its location, it could be beneath your concrete slab. These leaks must always be fixed by a professional who is experienced in handling slab leaks.
Bullseye Leak Detection provides expert leak detection and plumbing services in Sacramento. Contact us today for assistance in pinpointing and repairing leaks in your home’s plumbing, your swimming pool, or beneath your slab.