By: Cheryl Maguire
“Are you kidding me??”
That was my reaction after opening our water bill. The amount was $700 MORE than the normal average amount. My first call was to the town water company assuming it must be some sort of mistake.
“What is your address?”
I rattled off my address, including the town, and then realized I was calling the town water department – of course they knew the town – and apologized for the mistake.
“Almost everyone that calls says the town name, too.”
Now that my mistake was clarified, I was hoping to fix another one—my huge water bill. Unfortunately, saying the name of our town was the only mistake made in this situation.
“It’s probably a leaking toilet.”
“But it says I used 85,400 gallons MORE water than my last bill. Would a leaking toilet use that much water?”
“Yes. It’s totally possible.”
I was skeptical. But after researching “leaking toilet water bill” it turns out “it’s totally possible.”
According to the Portland water department website, “The toilet is one of the most common water wasters, but its leaks tend to be less noticeable than faucet leaks.” Some websites suggested I got off easy with using 14,233 gallons of water per month. One site said it’s possible to use 18,720 gallons wasted per month from a running toilet.
At first, I thought I would need to spend more money on a plumber to diagnose the issue. But being the money-saving-do-it-yourselfer that I am, I found a way to figure out the issue myself for free.
You can perform a “leak test” on your own with some food coloring that you probably already have in the house. You can put food coloring dye into the top tank of all your toilets. Then you should wait for about ten minutes, and if the dye is in the toilet bowl, you found your leak. Sure enough, one of our toilets had dye in the bowl. I was able to order the flapper part online that can cause water to leak into the bowl if not sealed properly. My husband then replaced the flapper part. After that, there wasn’t any dye in the bowl. So we fixed the issue.
A town water department employee was able to come to the house (for free) and verify that I no longer had a leak. If you want to prevent spending hundreds of dollars on your water bill from a leak, then you can test your toilets every month or so with dye to make sure it isn’t leaking. Plus, you could prevent wasting gallons of water like I did.
Now, if I could only figure out a hack for my teens to take shorter showers, I could really see some significant money savings in that water bill.