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Tanklets > High Water Bills

Q: The water heater sounds like there is water constantly running inside. The last water bill received was over $300 but no faucets are dripping and running. What could be the problem?

A: Everybody who has complained about something like this eventually found a fixture somewhere that was locked open. Possibilities include the temperature/pressure relief valve on the water heater, and things like washing machines and dishwashers. You may be able to check the T&P by seeing where the drain line goes and checking for running hot water there. The other places involve process of elimination. -- Randy

A1: Check the outdoor hose?

A2: I found my leak just outside the water meter sump at the street. The female PVC adaptor was cracked. The water was able to channel down to avoid disclosure. No water ever showed up above ground. I turned off the main valve at the house and the water meter still showed flow. -- David

A3: Might I suggest you feel both the hot and cold lines above the heater? If nobody has used water recently and the cold inlet really is cold, then water is running through the heater. If it isn't leaking through a fixture, than it's leaking from a (possibly buried) pipe. Turning off the cold inlet to the heater will give you a clue as well. If closing the valve stops the noise, this confirms there is a leak downstream, in the hot plumbing. As Randy said, the relief valve can cause this problem too. -- Larry (9/30/07)

Q: Okay, I read everything under the high bill section. Here is my story. I have 15 year old gas water tank. In Dec the tank was continuously running and you could hear and feel hot water running down the overflow pipe. We had superheated hot water that lasted forever. Our water bill went up about $30.

We found a leak near the outside water spout and repaired it. After the repair, my water bill stayed about the same. The tank did not run all of the time and no water was heard or felt running down the overflow pipe. However, we then had barley enough hot water for one person to take a shower. I checked the temp. pressure valve and it opened and closed as it should.

Two days ago, the water company came by and said that we had a leak on our side of the meter. He said it was not a big leak but the meter was still moving. Today, my water bill went from 90.00 to 400.00. I do not hear or see anything near the tank leaking. The overflow pipe is quite and cool. The hot water pipe is hot and the cold water pip is very cold going into the top of the tank. Does this sound like a true water supply leak? Should we replace the tank anyway since it is so old? Could something being wrong with the tank cause such a large jump in the water bill? Thanks for you input.

A: The trouble is, you could still have a leak upstream of the water heater. If you have reasonably good-draining soil, you might never know it -- except for the water bill, of course. -- Randy

A1: Hello: You need to methodically track down the leak. This gets done by rounding up some info ;) Have a look at the meter. Is it spinning when you know nobody is using water? Prolly yes. Turn off the main valve, up where the water line enters the house. Does the meter stop? If so, you know the leak is downstream of that valve. Otherwise it's in the line between meter and house.

Open up the house valve and shut off the valve to the water heater. Now what do you see? Does the meter stop? If so, you know the leak is in the hot side of the plumbing. Otherwise it's in the cold side. One caveat is that there may be a cross connection which would mess with your results. Have a look in tanklets for how to check for cross connections. One of the most common leaks is in toilets. Put a little food color in the toilet tank and see if that color makes it to the bowl all by it's ownsome. Do let us know what you find. -- Larry (2/11/10)