Author Topic: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery  (Read 2455 times)

Melisande

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Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« on: January 29, 2018, 07:02:42 PM »
For the last six months or so, we have been getting some high water bills mixed in with more normal ones. It is definitely the usage that was higher, not the price per gallon. We knew we had an old toilet that ran sometimes when it shouldn’t, so we replaced that at the beginning of this month. Last month’s bill was astronomical — over $400! But we thought with the new toilet, things would be better. But this month’s bill was $375. (Our normal water bill is/was in the $150 range.)

We have no clue what is causing the problem. There are no leaks that we know of in the house. We have checked the sprinkler system and it seems OK (and frankly was have spent a modest fortune maintaining it).

I had someone (not associated with the city) show me our water meter a few months ago. We watched it for 15 minutes and it was not running. It only ran when we turned on the water. I was told this means that there are no leaks. When I called the city to ask about this, they said something about the water meter being only digital now and not on the property, so we couldn’t have gotten any kind of accurate information from whatever it was we were looking at. In fact they insisted that we didn’t have a water meter on our property. They said that there is some way we can contest the bills, but it seems complicated. Besides, I want to get a solution to the problem and not have this happen every month. Or, heaven forbid, get worse!

Ideas?

Reynolds531

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 07:36:28 PM »
Confirm the reading on your metre matches the bill. Start-usage- finish. Usually there's a little spinning triangle to tell you if there's flow. I'm thinking that's what you were watching? Tough to go by that unless it's a ton of water.

I'd also do a food coloring test on that new toilet. Chain might be getting stuck under the flapper, or faulty seal etc.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 07:38:31 PM by Reynolds531 »

bacchi

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 07:40:08 PM »
There's no meter on your property? How does that make any sense? There's something inline to the pipes leading to your property that detects water flow. It may be digital now, and send the data by wireless, but it's there on the property. Call them back and ask wtf it is and how do you read it.

Can you cut off the water to your sprinkler system? If not, DIY or get a plumber to install a cutoff valve. That's probably the most likely suspect other than toilets.

There's really no way to do any detective work without knowing where the meter is. You probably found it and the customer service doesn't know their ass from their head.

Abe

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 09:53:00 PM »
Your sprinkler system is almost certainly the cause - it is exposed to much more temperature fluctuations than in-house plumbing and much more likely to leak as a result.

Also your water company's service people need to be fired. If they can't provide access to the meter, they need to provide accurate numbers from it. Contact your local government for more information on regulations.

CCCA

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2018, 10:22:40 PM »
We had a crazy high water bill one month but it was the result of a misread meter. However, since you have multiple months, it's probably not that.  I would try to take another look at the water meter and figure out how it translates into gallons.  If you are using 50-200 gallons per day, that is pretty reasonable depending on how many people live in your house.  If you are using 1000 gallons per day, then maybe you have some sort of a leak. 


You can check your crawlspace to see if it's wet.  That would be an indication if any pipes have burst, since presumably they aren't leaking inside your house or you'd notice the water.


I'd turn off the sprinkler as well to see if that helps.


Better Change

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 05:22:01 AM »
When we were renting a home, we found out that a local landscaping company was hooking hoses up to our spigots to water newly-planted evergreens (not on our property).  I about lost my sh!t when I saw them do it.

Unlikely that's what you have going on, but don't discount it.


Roadrunner53

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 05:53:49 AM »
My friend lives in a mobile home and has had water leaks where pipes under the unit have had to be replaced. She just had another leak and her water bill was sky high for several months. When we built our house we were in a new development and other houses were being built too. We had lived in the house for several years and one day we came home and had NO water. We have a well. Hub went out side and found someone had used our hose and didn't turn off the water. It was a cheap hose and it blew from the pressure and water ran till the water level in the well went very low and the pump turned off. Once the water table replenished itself, we had water again. We thought we would have to drill a new well! So needless to say, Hub put inside shut off valves on all 3 outside faucets and for years we turned them off when we were not using them. Toilets can be a problem too.

Melisande

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 08:13:22 AM »
So, I think I’ve solved the mystery. I called our city back and spoke with someone more coherent this time. She explained that the meter on our property is digital!!! I’m not sure why they are making such a big deal about it, since I still see the usage displayed just as I would on the old analog meters ... except that it’s digital. I mean —  you still just read the numbers.

Anyway, the flow meter showed that there was no water currently in use. I also took the current reading and compared it to the bill to see what our daily consumption rate has been over the last two weeks ... and it was only 40% that what it was over the period of our previous bill. So, I guess we are still paying for past sins and the next bill we reflect our now more normal usage.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 08:19:02 AM by Melisande »

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2018, 08:33:23 AM »
When we were renting a home, we found out that a local landscaping company was hooking hoses up to our spigots to water newly-planted evergreens (not on our property).  I about lost my sh!t when I saw them do it.

Unlikely that's what you have going on, but don't discount it.

Please tell me you sued for theft?

Just Joe

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Re: Sky high water bills — how to solve the mystery
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2018, 10:11:37 AM »
We had a crazy high water bill one month but it was the result of a misread meter. However, since you have multiple months, it's probably not that.  I would try to take another look at the water meter and figure out how it translates into gallons.  If you are using 50-200 gallons per day, that is pretty reasonable depending on how many people live in your house.  If you are using 1000 gallons per day, then maybe you have some sort of a leak. 


You can check your crawlspace to see if it's wet.  That would be an indication if any pipes have burst, since presumably they aren't leaking inside your house or you'd notice the water.


I'd turn off the sprinkler as well to see if that helps.

I highly recommend that everyone get used to making spot checks of their home and cars. Sometimes once you know well what is "normal" it is easier to spot a problem (if not a cause then the results).

If your crawlspace is normally really dry but this time its very humid or smells bad (or whatever), then there might be a problem and its worth your time to investigate.

If your car engine is normally very dry and the next time you check it the engine is very oily, smells of burnt oil or you see antifreeze splashed around - there might be a problem.