Home & Garden

Home fix: Why your water bill might be high

Q: I am having a plumbing breakdown. We live on three-fourths of an acre and have some landscaping, but I don’t think that we deserve a water bill of $700 every two months.

We have checked for leaks and have had the water company out. But recently I noticed that my toilet kept on running sometimes after flushing — how long it was doing that I do not know because I may not have heard it until recently.

Now it is flushing twice every now and then. Of course I now watch all the time to make sure it stops. What a pain! My plumber has looked at it and says all seems to be OK. Ha! I wanted him to change everything in there, but he said it was OK.

So now I am on my own quest. Please give me a couple of hints how I can work this out. We are going broke. And any little adjustment would be helpful. I just tried it and it did not flush twice as I was looking inside so it only happens sometimes.

A: You did not indicate if the sewer charges are a part of the water bill. In some municipalities, the homeowner receives a separate water and sewer bill. Others pay for sewage depending on the amount of water used. And then there are homes with private waste systems or septic systems that have no sewage fees.

Other factors affecting the amount of the water bill are: meter size, location in or out of the service area, the rate per thousands of gallons used, systems for fire protection in your area, etc.

According to the EPA, the average family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. The bath fixtures average two gallons per minute, a shower averages 2.5 gallons per minute, an older washing machine uses anywhere from 27 gallons to 54 gallons per load. You can find the water usage for different household appliances at www.home-water-works.org.

If you have a modern toilet that’s defective, it can lose anywhere from 1 to 2 gallons per minute, depending on the water pressure in the home. A leaky toilet could be losing as much as 120 gallons every hour. That can be as much or more than 1,000 gallons in a 12-hour period. No matter what the plumber says, leaks cost a lot of money and the fixtures need to be repaired or replaced. While waiting for replacement, turn off the water supply to the leaking fixture.

C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Send questions to C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or e-mail him at d.Barnett@insightbb.com.