Potential Causes of Increased Water Usage

An unusually high water bil is most often caused by a leak or change in water use. Some common causes of increased water usage include:

  • A leaking toilet or a toilet that continues to run after being flushed
  • A dripping faucet - a faucet drip can waste 20 gallons or more of water a day
  • Filling or topping off a swimming pool, hot tub or spa
  • Watering the lawn, new grass or trees - also check for an open hose bib
  • Irrigation systems - check automated systems which may need reprogramming
  • Kids home or company visiting - summer vacations, school holidays, family reunions
  • Water softener problems - cycling to frequently
  • Water-cooled air conditioners
  • A broken water pipe or obvious leak - check the pipes and water heater in the basement or crawlspace
  • Running water to avoid freezing pipes during cold weather

Generally, water consumption is higher during the summer due to watering of lawns, pools and gardens. An average family of four typically uses 4,000-5,000 gallons of water per month.

 PLEASE NOTE: A malfunctioning water meter will typically result in a usage reading of zero. It will NOT result in an unusually high read.

Do-It-Yourself Toilet Assessment

First check for the most common leak; a deteriorated or defective flush valve (flapper) ball at the bottom of the toilet tank. If it does not make a tight seal, water will leak into the toilet bowl. To check for this:

  1. Take the lid off the tank behind the toilet bowl, flush the toilet, then wait for it to fully refill.
  2. Put a few drops of food coloring or a colored dye tablet (available in the utility office) in the tank.
  3. Wait for at least 20 minutes; longer if a small leak is detected.
  4. If there is any color in the bowl, there is a leak.

The second most common type of leak has to do with an improperly adjusted or broken fill (ballcock) valve. To check for this, take the lid off of the toilet tank, flush, and see if water is draining into the overflow tubes when the tank is full.

The following table shows the amount of water that can be lost for various size leaks:

 Leak Size Gallons Per Day Gallons Per Month
Dripping leak 15 gallons 450 gallons
1/32 in. leak  264 gallons  7,920 gallons
 1/16 in. leak  943 gallons  28,300 gallons
 1/8 in. leak  3,806 gallons  114,200 gallons
 1/4 in. leak  15,226 gallons  456,800 gallons
 1/2 in. leak  60,900 gallons  1,827,000 gallons