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Common Causes of High Water Bills

By: Craig Smith
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Common Causes of High Water Bills

Has your water bill been going up recently but you don’t recall anything radically different in your water use pattern?

This can be especially worrisome if your water bill has gone up substantially for several months in a row.

If that’s the case, then you will need some answers and I am prepared to help with that.

I will be going over a list of some of the most common water and plumbing-related concerns that can add significantly to your water bill.

This information will give you a good list of places to start looking for problems that most certainly can be among the common causes of high water bills.

Most Common Causes of High Water Bills

1. Toilet Running/Leak


This one is what is commonly referred to as a silent leak. The type of leak that you will never notice because it does not result in water pooling near the toilet or saturating the nearby flooring. That’s because the water loss from this type of leak simply goes down the toilet drain.

Although this is one of the costliest types of water leaks to have in your home because it’s so hard to detect, it is one of the simplest to fix.

In most situations, a running toilet is caused by the float in the tank being so high that it allows water to constantly run into the tank. The leaking occurs because as the tank fills too high, the water will run out of the overflow and eventually down the drain.

A simple adjustment to the float by you or a plumber can easily remedy this situation. That slight adjustment can save you over 200 gallons a day in water loss from a running toilet.

2. Leaky Faucets or Valves


If you notice a steady drip of water coming from one of your faucets or valves, you probably are thinking to yourself that’s a repair that I can put off. That is until you get your next water bill and it’s much higher than the previous month.

Although dripping faucets and valves will not waste the same amount of water as a running toilet. This constant dripping can still add up to over 20 gallons a day. 

3. Seasonal Water Consumption

If your water bill jumps up for a couple of months in a row during the summer, this is no cause for alarm. That’s because it’s a very common thing when you are doing tasks such as watering your lawn during the warmer months that you don’t normally do during the cooler months.

This will be accentuated even more if you have a swimming pool in your backyard. Replacing the water lost from that pool due to evaporation and splash-out can add up to a significant amount of extra water use during the warmer months. 

4. Water Softeners with High Recharge/Regeneration Rates

Water Softeners

If you have a water softener, you may not be aware that it has a built-in cleaning cycle. This self-cleaning task is what’s called a regeneration (recharge) cycle.

During the regeneration cycle, the resin beads that are the key to how a water softener works, get a good rinsing to remove the solids that have accumulated on them during the water softening process.

Most water softeners will waste about 20 to 30 gallons when they recharge. They will also recycle every other day on average. So, you can expect to waste about 100 gallons of water a week by having a water softener.

Some of this water loss can be minimized by purchasing a quality water softener that recycles less often and also gives you a manual recharge option.

5. Leaky Water Heater


In my many years in the swimming pool and hot tub industry, I have seen firsthand what corrosive water can do to equipment that has water passing through it and the metal plumbing and other parts connected to them.

It’s no different with a water heater. Over time, the water storage tank on them and the connections leading into it may start to corrode and leak.

That’s why it’s never a bad idea to check your tankless water heater once a month for signs of water on the floor around it that indicate it’s leaking.

6. Leaky Washing Machine


I could probably go into 10 homes on any given day and find that 3 to 4 of them have leaky hose connections coming into the back of the washing machines in them.

This can be due to those connections simply coming loose over time, hose connections that have become corroded, or the connections were put on without the proper leak preventing washers in place.

7. Leaky Dishwasher


Just like the previous two appliances, dishwashers can also have leak issues. Once again, they can corrode in areas that contact water and this will eventually cause cracks and holes where water can leak out.

There is also the possibility that a hose connection could corrode and leak or become loose over time and start dripping.

8. Outdoor Leaks


Not only may you use too much water doing outside activities such as washing your car or watering your lawn, but there may be some leaks and other water loss sources that occur while doing outdoor tasks.

This includes using hoses that have holes in them or that have leaky connections because they are missing rubber washers. Leaving your garden hose running the entire time you are washing your car or your dog can also waste many gallons of water.

Malfunctioning Lawn sprinkler systems can be a problem too as far as wasting water. This happens when a failure in their sensing equipment or programming causes them to come on and run for hours when extra lawn watering is not needed.

Dripping hose spigots can also go unnoticed for a long time and add up to a significant amount of water loss the same as indoor faucets and valves. 

9. Underground Leaks


Here are some leaks that can definitely cause you some big increases in your monthly water bills. That’s because underground leaks are less likely to get noticed than indoor water leaks.

This is especially true for irrigation lines and the incoming water line to your home because they are below your yard’s surface. The leaking water from them, unless it’s a severe break in a line, will simply get soaked up by the surrounding ground area.

They can go unnoticed for a long time until you see a significant increase in your water bill for several months in a row.

10. Overuse of Water

There are situations where you may simply be using too much water too. This includes doing such things as washing several small loads of clothes instead of just a few large wash loads.

Members of your family taking excessively long showers or leaving the water running the entire time you are brushing your teeth or washing dishes.

So, if your water bill keeps going up, look to eliminate water loss sources such as those just mentioned. You would be surprised just how much water you can save by being aware of household tasks that waste water. 

Be Proactive When Noticing High Water Bills

I can’t stress enough how important it is to try and find a leak or water waste source if your home water bill starts to get unusually high.

You need to do this because as was mentioned several times in this article, even the smallest drips can add up to significant water loss over time and an increase in your water bill.

So, start doing some investigation around your home looking for leaks if you find your water bills keep getting higher for no apparent reason.

This is so important; you may even want to call in a professional plumber or handyman to help you pinpoint the problem that’s causing your high water bills.

Lastly, make sure you get one of the best water filters that helps prevent these issues.

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Craig Smith
Craig got his start in water working in the swimming pool and spa industry. Water treatment would grow into his main career but he ended up working in the pool industry for over 26 years where much of his time was spent balancing the water in customer's swimming pools and installing water filtration equipment. Craig offers an abundance of water treatment knowledge after helping homeowners get pure water for 26 years.

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