Plumbing FAQ: High Water Bill?

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What could contribute to a high water bill besides leaking faucets and/or pipes?

Ninety percent (90%) of all leaks in residential plumbing systems are found in the toilet tank. Toilet tank leaks typically result from worn parts or improper alignment of some part of the flushing mechanism. It is very important to stop the leak. Stop the leak and stop the expensive water bill from hitting you every month.

Your first step would be to discover whether you actually even have a leak. Here are some methods to help you with this diagnosis:

  • First thing, you’ll want to turn off all the appliances in the house that use water – including dishwasher, icemaker, water heater. It can be a challenge in a modern house to find all the water-using appliances! Turn off all the faucets while you’re moving around the house.
  • Go to your water meter (If you can’t easily read it, use the step below). One of the dials should be marked as a 1 cubic foot (“1 cu ft”) dial. See if it moves – you may need to wait 20-30 minutes to see if there’s any change. If there is some change, either you missed a faucet or water-using appliance, or you have a water leak somewhere.
  • Open a faucet so that water runs so you can hear what the system sounds like (using a mechanic’s stethoscope) when water is flowing through it. Find the water main (where the water comes into the house from the outside). Listen with the mechanic’s stethoscope. Now turn the faucet off, making sure all water-using appliances are off and all faucets are off. Turn the main valve off – now there is no flow at all. Listen with the stethoscope to that (lack of) sound. Now, turn the main valve back on, and listen again to see if you can hear any flow. If you do, and you’re sure there are no faucets or appliances using water, it’s time to call a plumber.
  • Don’t forget to turn the faucets and appliances, and especially the water heater, back on when you’re done!
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