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Philphine 05-31-2007 09:53 PM

just got a really high water bill
i've only been in the house since feb so this is my second bill (bi-monthly billing). the first one was higher than i would have expected but i thought maybe it was from past charges on the house or something, or maybe i was in denial. still i searched for a leak and couldn't find one so i just waited till i got another bill to see what it would be, and this one is even higher. i got the bill just before i left for work so all i can do is try to think up what to try tomorrow.

the only thing i know to try first is maybe throw a few bug bombs in the crawlspace, then crawl in and look for a leak. i've also read and been told to try turning off the water and seeing if the water meter still moves to see if it's the pipe to the house. i don't think i've noticed a water meter, just the one for electricity. i've also been told to look for a spot where the grass is growing faster and greener, but we've had little rain lately so it just happens that i've been looking at the yard (and having to water flowers and things) and it's all pretty uniformly dry.

the whole thing is scaring me some since i know pretty much nothing about plumbing and i'm still recoving from the house purchase, which means very little cash for a plumber. any help and/or advice would be appreciated. thanks.

glennjanie 05-31-2007 10:58 PM

Hello Philphine:
When you were told to turn off your water meter, the person was thinking of a meter in a basement; appearatly you don't have one. Look out front, between the street curb and the sidewalk. The lid on it will say water meter.
Open the lid then a little flip open lid inside on the meter itself. You will find a red needle that moves in a clockwise motion; if it is moving there is water running somewhere. Ask the family to cooperate and not run any water while you check it.
You should also check the gallons used on the bill; each person in the house uses an average of 1,000 gallons per month. Another possibility is that the city water agency can't get around to all the meters each month, so they estimate for a couple of months and, when they do read it they will balance it up.
For further help you can go to the Broadway campus of KCTCS and ask for Vic Nordman. He has been a plumber in Louisville for years and his dad for years before that. He now teaches Plumbing and will be glad to answer questions.

Philphine 06-01-2007 12:52 PM

ok thanks. for now all i've done is spray around the walls of the house on the inside, and threw the bug bomb in the crawl space. didn't know if bugs might try to come up into the house if i didn't spray inside, plus i waited till i came to work since i didn't know if the fumes could come through the floor (along with thefumes from the inside spray). tomorrow i'm going in.

i saw the meter cover (turn on/off cover?) in the front yard but didn't try to take it up (again, didn't want to start in to it and then stop to go to work). i'll make it part of what i do to find a leak tomorrow. thanks again.

CraigFL 06-01-2007 02:41 PM

If you pick a quiet time you should be able to hear the water running if it's a leak significan enough to raise your water bill. Don't forget to listen around the toilets where it's commom to have a leak at the flapper valve causing the tank to keep filling.

Philphine 06-01-2007 08:18 PM

i've tried that a few times but didn't hear anything. i know i also have a leaky toilet. i fixed one after i moved in and i hear it every once in a while come on and top off for a couple seconds, but i didn't think it was enough to make the bill what it is. i'll have to go ahead and work on it again, but i don't think it's my problem since the bill i had before i fixed the toilet was pretty high too (it was turned off compleatly so no water to it when i first moved in).

i also tried a food coloring idea i read on the 'net, where you put food coloring in the tank and not flush it for a few hours and see if the color of the water in the bowl changes to show a leak (i used a dark blue toilet tab). the one i knew leaked turned blue, but the other was good.

none of the basins in the kitchen and bathrooms leak. the bath/shower will if you don't make sure to turn the knobs tight. i'm feeling like the answer will be in the crawl space, 'cause i just can't find enough leaking in the house for the bill to be as high as it is.

glennjanie 06-02-2007 06:05 PM

The toilet running occasionally will use a surprising amount of water; remember, it goes on all day while you're at work and all night while you sleep.

Philphine 06-04-2007 02:19 PM

i turned it off this morning, but i don't think it's going to be the problem. actually i turned it off last night, and when i got up (around 6 hours later) the tank was just about empty. the tank looks to be about 2-3 (?) gallons so that's about a gallon every 2-3 hours? making it about 8-12 gallons a day, and 480-720 gallons for a 60day billing cycle. but that still dosen't explain the size of the bill.

i went ahead and got under the house this weekend, but still don't have an answer. i saw might might be a future problem, a bit of weeping around a joint (that might have even been the hot water line sweating or something), but still nothing to explain my bill. i did see though once i crawled out that the front of the goretex jacket i had on was a little wet. i thought about it and remembered that i had sat in one place for a while right where the kitchen and main bathroom lines are all close together looking and listening, laying on my chest. the crawl space has plastic sheeting on the ground under it so i thought maybe it was leaking under the plastic and some had seeped through a hole and wetted my jacket.

so i went back under and there was a small puddle there, but the pipes were actually above the plastic and not leaking. there wasn't even a joint at that point and the pipes looked good. i pulled the plastic up anyway and it was at best damp but not wet enough for any water to have leaked through even a larger hole to get my jacket wet. i don't know.

someone suggested maybe getting under there while someone turned on and off different things to see what happens. i can't see it mattering since it seems like the pipes would be under more pressure when there's no spigot or something open, but i'm going to try it when i can get someone there (live by myself) while i'm under the house.

i'll give searching another week or so, then i guess i'll need to call in help or just turn the water off and shower at a friends till i figure out what to do and/or how to pay for it. thanks for the suggestions.

Rustedbird 06-07-2007 03:52 AM

You would be amazed at what a leaky toilet can do to a water bill. Been there. Flapper is easy replacement job. Also pretty cheap. And you don't have explore the subterranean real estate. The leak is probably faster then that, there's a raised washer that will leave a little bit of water in the tank.

If that doesn't do it, then do all the other stuff.

glennjanie 06-07-2007 01:08 PM

If you had the size of leak you have described you would have to swim under the house. Really, just the tiniest pinhole leak will spray water for 3 or 4 feet. Starting at the cut-off out front, try to determine the path of the pipe and use a probe into the ground to see if there's any mud.
If the leak were outside it would be streaming down the street gutter though. Its time to call Vic Nordman in on this one. He may send 2 or 3 out of his class over to take the challenge. He's the professor at KCTCS, Broadway Campus.

Philphine 06-09-2007 07:19 PM

i guess i'll have to try him. i really can't find anything that would amount up to the bill i have. i'm almost embarrassed to say how big it is. it's 50,000gallons. from everything i've read whatever is happening should be really obvious. i've been back outside searching and at best found some higher grass around what i guess is maybe a sewer clean out? but really, since you're in ky, you know how dry it's been. the whole yard looks close to barren save a few hearty weeds.

i looked at the meter this morning and the little triangle is spinning pretty good, which i guess rules out them estimating on the bill. my brother thought maybe because of the pool they might, but it's empty now and i haven't even considered trying to fill it (need a new liner). i didn't think they'd estimate that high anyway. over the half hour i had it open and searching the yard it went through about 1/2 gallon.

i think i have someone who can come by while i'm under the house tomorrow to turn things off and on. what ever's going on seems like it has to be under the house. monday i'll give mr.nordman a call. thanks for the name.

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