Why Is My Water Bill Higher Than Usual?
Have you ever opened your water bill and ended up spitting out your coffee because it was just so much higher than usual? It is very easy for a water bill to fluctuate from month to month. The important thing to do if your water bill is higher than usual, is to stay calm and try and figure out why the bill is so much higher. There are a number of remarkably simple reasons why a water bill might be higher than it usually is. If the increased bill is due to something wrong with your water system, then it is important you get the problem fixed ASAP; since you never know if the small problem might become a bigger one down the line.
The first reason why a bill might be higher in one month, is a rapid change in season or temperature. This may seem like an absurd reason to many people, probably because it seems like such a remarkably simple explanation, but it is true. Think about it, if the weather is hotter, you are probably using more on your lawn, to garden, etc. If the weather is colder, you are probably using less water on your lawn, but you may be spending a couple more minutes in the warm shower every day, using more hot water in general, etc. It does not just have to be big changes in season either. If one month is slightly hotter than the previous months, then you are probably going to use more water (drinking more water, letting the tap run longer, things like that). So, if you are looking at your water bill and scratching your head trying to figure out why it is higher than usual, stop comparing your bill to your last one, and try comparing it to a bill from a month with a similar temperature.
This is another relatively simple explanation that you might have overlooked. If more people are in your house (even if they are only staying there for a couple of days or a week), then your water bill is going to go up. Were your kids on vacation for a week or two? Well, then your bill will go up. Did the in-laws come to visit for a week? Well, then your bill will go up. Again, it is a simple explanation, but it is easy to forget simple explanations when you first get your water bill and it is much higher than usual.
Leaks and/or broken appliances
If your water bill is substantially higher than it was last month, then it is possible that you have a leak or broken appliance on your hands. So, start looking for leaks in the obvious places. First off, check all the faucets in the house, leaky faucets may not seem like a big deal, but a couple of leaky faucets can use a lot of water over the period of a month. Tons of houses have leaky faucets, so if suspect that a leak is the cause behind your high water bill, start by checking the faucets. If you are interested in learning about why your faucet may be leaking, you can check out our earlier post on the matter here.
If the faucets are not leaking, move on to the next obvious culprit, leaky pipes. Leaky pipes are an incredibly common household problem, and can end up costing you a pretty penny if not fixed in a timely manner. The bad news is that leaky pipes are generally a sign of a bigger problem, and not something that can be fixed tightening a bolt or two. If your pipes are leaking badly, then you are going to want to get a plumber down to look at the pipes, since it is possible that your pipes are degrading (in which case, the leak may turn into a burst, which will cost thousands of dollars to fix), and it is also possible that your pipes have become badly clogged. Regardless of the problem, the plumber should be able to quickly identify and hopefully fix the problem.
Another common cause of high water bills is a broken toilet, specifically a toilet that continues to run after it has been flushed. It may seem like a minor problem, but believe it or not a broken toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water. Thankfully, the problem should not be too hard or expensive to fix. If you are unsure about whether your toilet is working properly, there is a neat trick you can do to check. Flush the toilet and then take the top off of the tank. Take some food colouring and put a couple drops in the tank. Wait about half an hour, and then check the toilet bowl, if there is any food colouring in the toilet bowl, then you know your toilet is not working properly.
Finally, if the leak is not inside your house, then it is possible that the leak is outside. Go outside your house and start looking at water lines, spigots, under the house, etc. Check around for unusual damp spots, which could indicate a leak of some sorts.
If you cannot find any leaks, but are still convinced that you have one, there is a relatively simple test you can do yourself to determine if there is a hidden leak somewhere in your house. First, go around your house and make sure every faucet and water using appliance is completely shut off (if they are not properly shut off, they will interfere with the test, so be thorough). Now, once you are sure everything is shut off, avoid using water for a couple of hours (2-3 to be certain). After a couple of hours have passed, go to your water meter and check to see if it has registered any water usage; if it has, then obviously you have a leak somewhere. It goes without saying that if you do not have a water meter (say because you live in an apartment), then you cannot do this test.