ABC Blog

Why Is My Water Bill So High?

a home with a slab leak

When homeowners notice a spike in their water bill, it can often lead to finger-pointing and frustration. Maybe you’re just noticing that your water pressure isn’t as great as it used to be or your toilet won’t flush all the way. Most homeowners find that an increase in their water bill is due to a leak or change in water use. If you have kids home from college or a new garden that you’re watering more, you also may see an increase in your water bill. And, did you know something as simple as a dripping faucet can waste more than 20 gallons of water a day?

Other common high water bill culprits include:

  • A leaky toilet
  • Filling or topping off a swimming pool
  • A leaking or malfunctioning sprinkler system
  • Malfunctioning humidifiers attached to a furnace
  • Hosting guests
  • Large leaks, such as a slab leak

Culprits of a High Water Bill

Two major culprits of a higher water bill include running toilets and slab leaks. A running toilet is usually noticed more quickly since it makes an irritating sound that never seems to end. Slab leaks are quieter and more destructive to your property. Homeowners can take steps to fix a running toilet, but professional plumbers can usually get the job done more efficiently. On the other hand, slab leaks must be addressed by a professional plumber. 

Even if you don’t see a leak, it could waste hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water. We recommend routinely checking your home for leaky faucets, spigots and irrigation lines. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, we recommend reaching out to a licensed plumber. A professional can get to the bottom of the plumbing issue and find a solution to bring your water bill back down and protect your home from further damage.

a toilet that is constantly running

How to Stop a Toilet From Running

A running toilet is a sound that most of us pick up on pretty quickly. It’s a dull noise in the background that’s noticeable because it never stops. A toilet that doesn’t stop running is basically an internal water leak and could be wasting gallons of water a day. This is not only annoying but can also cost you money. If you are even just occasionally hearing the toilet running, it could be increasing your water bill. While this is a job that a professional can do quickly, handy homeowners can also try out this task. To figure out which component of your toilet is malfunctioning, you’ll first have to follow these steps:

  • First, turn off the water. The water supply is usually located on the wall to the right of the toilet. Turn the knob clockwise to stop the water supply.
  • Then, you’ll want to carefully remove the toilet lid from the toilet tank and place it on a towel.
  • Once you get the lid off, take a look inside the tank and locate the flush valve, the fill valve and the fill tube. The fill tube will look like a plastic cylinder in a vertical position, with a flapper that lifts when you flush.

A toilet can run for several reasons. Among the most common are that the float height needs to be adjusted, the flapper is worn out or the refill tube needs shortening. We understand that it’s no one’s idea of fun to stick their arm into a toilet tank to figure out what’s going on. Plus, many homeowners lack the tools necessary to get the job done. We recommend contacting a plumbing professional, so you can save your sanity and money, and stop the sound of that running toilet.

Checking For Faulty Components

Oftentimes, a faulty flapper is the culprit of a running toilet. If you try flushing the toilet with the lid off and you notice that the flapper doesn’t seal completely, a worn-out or old flapper is likely the cause of your problem. A loose toilet flapper can even cause your toilet not to flush all the way. Homeowners can replace this flapper themselves once they know the make and model of their toilet. 

Alternatively, the fill valve could be responsible for a running toilet. To check for a leak in your fill valve, try flushing your toilet and simply look to see if your fill valve is leaking. If you realize you have a leaky fill valve, we recommend contacting a professional for help. A professional plumber will begin the process by disconnecting the water supply line. Next, they will unscrew the lock nut holding the fill valve in place and remove the leaky fill valve. Then, they will install the new fill valve. Lastly, they will connect it to the fill tube, clipping the angle adapter onto the overflow pipe, and attach the flapper chain to the flush lever.

If you aren’t completely sure about the cause of the leak or don’t have the tools to fix a toilet that leaks when flushed, contact a licensed plumber. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that a professional will handle the problem, and you won’t create any additional issues by attempting to fix the issue on your own. Simple mistakes like failing to notice cracks in the tank or tightening bolts a little too tight can cause additional damage and unnecessary headaches. A professional will be able to assess and fix the plumbing problem, with a guarantee that you will get back to using your toilet in no time.

A house with a slab leak can go undetected for a long time

What Are the Signs of a Slab Leak?

Another issue that can contribute to high water bills is a slab leak. Slab leaks are known for being destructive and incredibly costly. Major slab leaks can even result in termite problems and mold damage. Knowing the signs of a slab leak can help you diagnose and fix the problem early. 

Let’s start off with the basics. A slab is a concrete foundation underneath your home that gives your home its base structure and support. Since slab leaks are silent problems, they often go undetected for a long time. 

A few signs that you have a slab leak include:

  • Bowed or separated floorboards
  • Cracked tiles or warped hardwood floors
  • Low water pressure throughout the home
  • Wet or damp carpet
  • A spike in your water bill
  • Windows or doors that won’t shut like they used to

How Plumbers Fix Slab Leaks

The best solution if you believe you have a slab leak is to contact a licensed plumber. For many homeowners, it’s extremely difficult to fix these kinds of leaks on their own. A pro will be able to ask you questions about what possible signs of a slab leak you have noticed. They can also inspect any problem areas that you mention. Without expert equipment and training, it is hard to pinpoint the exact location of the issue.

A licensed plumber will have the skills and experience needed to assess the issue, and fix it correctly the first time. A professional will be able to assess and fix the plumbing problem, with a guarantee that your life will get back to normal. Professional plumbers have the expertise and technical tools necessary to find slab leaks. For example, plumbing professionals can diagnose where a leak is coming from by listening to the home foundation with equipment like acoustic discs and ground microphones. They may perform an elimination test, where they isolate each water supply line in your home and figure out which leaks.

ABC Can Help Lower Your Water Bill

A higher-than-usual water bill can stress your wallet. Many homeowners naturally worry when their water bill is higher than usual and fear that it could be a sign of a leak. Since leaks can cause significant damage, we recommend contacting a licensed professional if you think that you’re experiencing this plumbing issue.

When you contact ABC Home & Commercial Services, our licensed plumbers will ask you questions and investigate your home to properly diagnose the source of your elevated water bill. If they discover an issue, they will use their skills and expertise to fix the problem. As a family-run business, we treat your home as we would our own. You can have peace of mind knowing that with ABC Home & Commercial Services your largest investment is taken care of.

Tom Riggs

Tom Riggs is the Division Manager for Mechanical Services, overseeing sales and operations for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance Repair and Water Quality for all ABC Austin branches. He joined ABC in 2014. Before ABC, he was an HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Comfort Advisor/Sales and Operations Manager. Tom attended Universal Technical Institute. He's an avid outdoorsman and enjoys country living with his wife and two sons.

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