As “The No Surprise Guys”, the only tricks we like happened last month on Halloween. We do Halloween right in Sacramento, and those sorts of surprises can be fun–but most surprises aren’t! That goes double if the surprise comes on a monthly water bill. If your bill gave you a trick recently, there are a few things you can do to fix the situation.
Sneaky Leaks and Drips
The first place to look is where water could be running that you don’t know about. Drips are easy to check for, but they can cost you money big time.1 If your bill is higher than normal, or just higher than you’d like, start checking all your faucets and hose bibs for drips. Shut everything off and see if water still comes out. If it does, it may not be urgent, but it is something you’re paying for. A faucet that drips four times a minute can cost hundreds of gallons a year.
If your faucets are all turned off, and don’t seem to be dripping, you can check to see if water is flowing. Go out to your meter and take a look at the red triangle. If it’s moving, that means that water is flowing somewhere between the meter and the house. Go back and double check all the faucets and hose bibs, as well as other water-using devices like washers and water heaters. If you’re sure nothing is using water, but the flow indicator is still moving, you likely have a more serious leak. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Common Culprits: Toilets and Washers
A lot of the time, toilets are a sneaky way to lose water. They’re a special case–they may be leaking and you wouldn’t know. If that’s going on, water slowly flows from the tank to the bowl, and the only symptom might be a higher-than-usual water level in the bowl.You may be able to hear the toilet “running” even if it hasn’t been used recently. We had a client who called about their toilet–which never stopped making noise! We told them that toilets should only make noise when flushed, and they should refill in five minutes or less. They’d been living with a running toilet for years, and footing the cost as well.
Theirs was an easy fix–they just needed a new rubber flapper, which is what stops the water in the tank from flowing unless the toilet is flushed. A plumber can replace a toilet flapper in a matter of minutes, and it’s a cheap part to replace. Our client was more than pleased when their noisy toilet shut off for the first time in two years.
Another sneaky place to look for excess water use is in your washers. Washing machines are often one of the biggest water-using devices in the house, as are dishwashers. If you’ve recently installed a new dishwasher or washing machine, it could be the reason for a higher water bill than in previous months. Make sure you’re following the right directions for these devices and that they aren’t leaking anywhere.
Of course, replacing old washers with new water-saving models can be a great way to cut down your water bill every month. Even if your current device is running well, you might be surprised how much less water newer washers use than older models. There are even rebate programs available depending on what city or county in the Valley you live in.
What About Serious Leaks?
We briefly mentioned serious leaks. These are more rare than drips or running toilets, but they do happen. It’s possible that despite everything, you won’t find the leak or account for the extra bill cost. These likely mean that there’s a leak between your meter and your house, or somewhere else underground. If it’s under your lawn or in your yard there may be symptoms, such as “soft” spots or muddy areas outside.
If the leak is in your house you’ll likely know about it. More than one crawlspace has been filled with water from a freeze-break or deviated pipe. You may hear the sound of water running somewhere in the house, but again you may not. The same is true for water lines in the walls or ceiling. Perhaps the best way to notice a major leak of any kind is a drastic increase in your water bill from one month to the next that you can’t explain any other way.
If you experience any of these signs, call a plumber immediately. Serious leaks are just that–serious. No matter where it is, from the house to the crawlspace to the yard, major water damage can occur. This damage could also become structural–especially if there’s water pooling underneath the concrete slab on which your house is built! The benefits to catching this early are major. You’re saving your home, your money, and you’re saving water for the drought-ridden state. So give us a call. Because whether your leak is minor or major, Bell Brothers can help.
- http://www.awwa.org/resources-tools/public-affairs/public-information/dripcalculator.aspx ↩