High Utility Bill Checklist

Faucet

Have you received a City Utilities bill that is higher than you expected?

If your bill from City Utilities goes up significantly, it could mean that you have a plumbing issue in your home or it may just be that you have increased your water usage as a result of watering the lawn or garden, filling a swimming pool, having students home from school/college or having guests in the house.

Water leaks in your home or business can be annoying and costly. The sound of a faucet dripping or a toilet running in the night can mean your hard earned dollars are slipping away down a drain.  Water leaks can be simple to find and fix—and the benefits to your bank account and your sleep can be huge! 

The High Utility Bill Checklist is a starting point.

FAUCET:

A constantly dripping faucet can waste around 150 cubic feet of water a day—water you pay for! If you have a faucet in an out-of-the-way place that you seldom use, check it regularly to make sure that it is not leaking.

Faucets usually drip or leak because the seals, washers, or O-rings inside are worn. Replacing the pieces that help seal the faucets is relatively easy and there are many   online resources that can help you see exactly what to do based on your faucet brand and configuration.

If you’re not a do-it-yourself type, you may want to call a plumber to do the job. You could save the cost of the repair in just a few months of lower utility bills.

Check outside spigots to see if they are running or dripping.  If the spigot is leaking it may need to have washers replaced. If you have left a hose running even a bit, you can waste thousands of cubic feet of water over the summer.  Remember to turn off outside taps tightly.

TOILET:

The toilet is the most common thief of household water, but it may not be as noticeable as a dripping faucet. In fact, toilet leaks can be completely silent. There are two main areas where toilets typically leak – flush valves and tank floats. 

If the flush valve does not close completely after the flush, water can continue to flow slowly into the bowl. Your toilet may appear to flush itself from time to time. This means that water that leaks from the tank into the bowl will move into the sewer system. This water is being wasted.

Dye testing is a simple way to check for a toilet leak, follow these easy steps:

1. Take the top off the toilet tank. Remove any cleaning agents that might cause the water in the toilet bowl to be colored.

2. Drop a couple drops of household food coloring or a dye tablet (available free at the city utilities drop box resource table) into the tank to dye the water.

3. Wait 10 to 20 minutes. Do not flush the toilet or let anyone use it during this time.

4. Check the color of the water in the toilet bowl. If the water in the toilet is colored, the flush valve could be leaking. Be sure to flush the toilet immediately to avoid any staining of the tank or bowl.

5. A leaking flush valve can be repaired with advice and parts from a hardware or home improvement store.

WATER HEATER:

Check around your water heater to make sure it is not leaking. If you find water around the appliance you may have a leak from the drain faucet at the bottom or the top may have come unsealed.

WATER SOFTENER & REVERSE OSMOSIS SYSTEM:

It is a good idea to periodically check the cycle time of a softener and also check for an osmosis system malfunction. You may also want to turn the softener or osmosis system off for a month and see if it makes a difference in your utility bill.

HEATING & COOLING SYSTEM:

If you have a humidifier on your furnace, inspect the float in the humidifier to make sure it is not filling higher than the level recommended by the manufacturer.

If you have hot water heat, boiler heat or water cooled air conditioning – a malfunctioning unit may contribute to higher bills.

WASHING MACHINE, DISHWASHER & ICE MAKER:

Any appliance that is utilizing water can have hidden issues with seals, gaskets and hoses, it is a good idea to perform a routine maintenance on these parts to avoid wasteful water usage.

ADDITIONAL HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS & GUESTS:

Water usage during the summer months when kids are home and around the holidays when family and friends gather can also make a difference in your utility bill.  Every additional flush of the toilet, shower and load of laundry is using more water.

POOL:

Filling and maintaining a pool can be quite costly. If city water is used for this purpose it will be reflected on your utility bill and could go up considerably.

LAWN & GARDEN WATERING:

Keep in mind that irrigation for a garden, flower beds or maintaining a beautiful green lawn can use a very large amount of water over the course of a summer.

COLD WEATHER PRECAUTIONS:

When outdoor temperatures drop below freezing and especially if they fall below zero, you may need to take precautions to protect the water pipes inside your home from freezing. Water pipes in outside walls, basements and unheated crawl spaces may be especially prone to freezing.  Eliminating drafts, insulating pipes and letting a small amount of water drip from faucets can be beneficial in preventing broken pipes.  Be aware that the dripping faucet will be reflected in elevated usage on your bill, but still a significant savings over the cost of a broken pipe.

BROKEN PIPES:

Broken pipes may be difficult to find especially if your pipes are located in a crawl space or within walls. Look for unexplained wet areas or water stains on walls. Broken pipes or leaking joints typically require a plumber to fix.

WENT THRU THE CHECKLIST, BUT DIDN’T FIND A LEAK?

You can contact City Utilities by calling (260) 356-3220. 

City Utilities can send a service person out to check the meter for running water and/or a leak emblem. They can also run a Data Log, which will provide a report for the previous 90 days and indicate any intermittent/continuous leaks.

But please understand that they are unable to investigate your home or business to find the actual leak — that could be a job for a professional plumber.