Huge spike in water usage with no lifestyle changes or leak detected by water co.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by KTM, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. KTM

    KTM New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Green Bay, WI
    We are entirely confused by our current situation and I was happy to find this forum to possibly gain some insight about this situation.

    Our October water usage bill arrived last weekend. It was a drastic increase. Here is our four month usage record:

    August: 4490 gal
    September: 3634 gal
    October: 12,413 gal
    November: *I do not know exact total, but the water company has told me it was over 16,000 gal

    The water company's report shows no leaking or continual running toilet. They have tested our meter. As of right now, the water company monitored our usage from Dec. 1-2 and we have done it ourselves from Dec 2-3 and we seem to be back to our normal average.

    Right now, the water company maintains it had to be an undetectable issue with a toilet. I assume we would have heard or seen the toilet running. Also, I use the blue tablets in the tanks and if it was continually running, I assume those would not last as long as normal.

    I was really hoping someone in the know could shed some light on this as we are so confused. Here are some other facts that may or may not be prudent:

    Nobody is stealing from our outside faucet. I work from home, and can hear it turned on. Plus, we don't have any neighbors that would do that anyway.

    We do not own, we lease the home.

    We do not have a pool or water our grass.

    We are a family of three.


    Thank you in advance for reading.
    A technician came yesterday to test the meter and could not detect any issues with it.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The first thing I would ask questions about is the meter reading policy. We have seen problems around here when the water company "winged it" meaning they estimated the reading rather than actually going by and reading it. If they were underestimating, then sooner of later they would read the meter and the bill woudl be a catch-up. Finally the city council here prohibited the practice of estimating bills.

    Failing that, you have a mystery. Your word against theirs. I would appeal the bill, worst case ask for a 12 month payment plan. Ask them to compromise on the amount. Nose around and see if anyone else in your area has received a surprise bill!
  3. KTM

    KTM New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Green Bay, WI
    Thank you Jimbo!

    They do not estimate it because the previous and present readings are right on our bill. Unfortunately, they are not going to give us a break on the bill. They maintain it had to be a toilet issue, though their reports show no continual usage and we have not heard a toilet running.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,003
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    No doubt, he wrote CWT on his report. That's the problem with intermittent faults, they tend to Clear While Testing.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,684
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Toilets do NOT have to be "continually running" but they can be "continually intermittent" which will also use a lot of water. however, they do NOT repair themselves so the major bill should be continuing.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,053
    Location:
    New England
    The first thing to do is make sure all of the water users in the house are turned off, then look at the meter. If it is turning, then the task is to find out what and where that's happening as you have a leak. Is your meter at the street, or in the house? Are there any wet spots around the house or the yard? Are there any floor areas that are either hotter or colder than normal? Has there been a large truck or vehicle that was driven over the area where the water line runs?

    Did this coincide with the earthquake the mid-west had? How far were you from the epicenter?
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,351
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    This may or may not be part of your problem, but those "blue tablets" eat the hell out of rubber parts which includes the flapper. Toilet manufacturers advise against them. A leaking flapper would drain a lot of water if it continually leaked.
  8. KTM

    KTM New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Green Bay, WI
    Toilets do NOT have to be "continually running" but they can be "continually intermittent" which will also use a lot of water. however, they do NOT repair themselves so the major bill should be continuing.
    Thank you hj, that gives me good information if it goes back up one of the days this week.


    The first thing to do is make sure all of the water users in the house are turned off, then look at the meter. If it is turning, then the task is to find out what and where that's happening as you have a leak. Is your meter at the street, or in the house? Are there any wet spots around the house or the yard? Are there any floor areas that are either hotter or colder than normal? Has there been a large truck or vehicle that was driven over the area where the water line runs?

    Did this coincide with the earthquake the mid-west had? How far were you from the epicenter?


    Thank you jadnashua. Our meter is in the basement and does not turn when water is not in use. Monday I did check for wet areas in the yard and saw nothing. I have not noticed hot or cold spots on the floor. Your question about the truck scares me (but thank you so much for bringing that up) because we have a shed in the back of our house and my husband does drive his truck with dual rear wheels in the back to that shed. I will have to figure out with his help where the water lines run, as I haven't a clue how to figure that out. I hope that is not the cause as I can't even imagine what that will cost to fix. If it a water line was damaged due to that, do the details of my situation sound typical of damage caused to the line from that? We had no effects from the earthquake here.

    Details I failed to include in my first post are that we lease half of a side by side duplex and our neighbor's bill has been normal. They have the sump pump on their side only for the whole unit. My landlord is aware of the situation and was here when the technician was.

    I can't believe how helpful you all are. I am going to donate $10 to the Salvation Army in honor of all of you unselfish people being so generous with your time...I know that isn't much but I am cheap as heck, but honest about it!
  9. KTM

    KTM New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Green Bay, WI
    Thank you so much for that valuable advice! Once these run out, I will stop using them completely. Thank you for saving me from possible future problems.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,053
    Location:
    New England
    In some places, the meter is at the street, so there's a long run where a leak could occur without it being in the house. But, if the meter is in the house, that's not as much of an issue. Even if it leaked, they wouldn't be metering it if it was between the house and the street. It would take a pretty big truck to damage a water line, but it's possible. Where you live, though, it's probably burried quite deep, and less likely.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,684
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Alll of the advice about turning off the water and checking the meter, looking for "hot spots, etc., is what the water company would have done to test for a "continual leak", and therefore should NOT be necessary for you to repeat the process.
  12. bluebinky

    bluebinky Member

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Do the neighbors have a swimming pool?
  13. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    A leaking toilet doesnt use 16,000 gallons a month, unless the shut off valve is broken off. Appeal it and dont pay it.

    If all your toilets had no flappers, I still dont think it possible. Unless this is a deaf family, or thought the waterfall in the toilet sounded nice, its not your fault.

    I would install my own meter after theirs. Meters can do weird things when they age.
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