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Why Is My Water Bill So High?

Troubleshooting from George Brazil

A shockingly high water bill is always a cause for concern. Not only do you end up paying more than you’d like, but now there’s the possibility of a plumbing problem that could end up costing thousands down the road.

So what’s causing your higher-than-normal water bills? Well, if you received a water bill that was unusually high, you could have any of these 5 problems:

  • A leak somewhere in your home’s plumbing
  • Slow-leaking water appliances
  • A leaking water heater
  • A water softener that “regenerates” constantly
  • A sudden, dramatic change in water use

Not sure which of these problems is causing your higher-than-normal water bills? Read on. We’ll explain each of these problems and how you can determine which one is the problem.

Need a Phoenix plumber right away? Just contact us and we’ll send one right over.

A leak in your home’s piping

A leak in your plumbing is probably the most severe and expensive problem. If there’s a leak anywhere in your home’s pipes, it can allow gallons of water to go wasted unnoticed every hour.

Use the following test to determine whether you have a leak in your home:

  1. Turn off all water in the home. This includes sprinklers and outdoor hoses. Also, make sure no one is showering, using the toilet, etc.
  2. Go outside and locate your water meter. Water meters are usually located outside near the driveway or along the boundary of your property. Look for a plastic or metal covering labeled “Water Meter”.
  3. Remove the cover. You may need to use a screwdriver to pry the lid open, depending on how long it’s been since it was last opened. Note: The meter may be hidden under dirt from dust storms so it might not be visible to you immediately.
  4. Check the numbers or triangle for movement. This step depends on the type of water meter you have: digital or analog (see instructions below).

If your water meter has a triangle and an arrow (like the one pictured below), check to see if either is moving. If they are, that means water is still flowing through your home’s pipes and you have a leak.


If your water meter looks like the one below, you have a digital water meter. Check the numbers at the bottom. If the numbers are over 0 and going up, you have a leak somewhere. You may need to record the number, wait 2 hours then check the number again.


If you’ve determined that you have a leak, have a professional examine your home’s plumbing to locate and repair the leak.

Related: 7 Signs Your Home Has a Slab Leak

Slow-leaking water appliances

According to the EPA, slow leaks (like a running toilet) can increase your water bill by up to 10%.

Not sure if this is the problem haunting your water bills? Just check for the following:

If you’ve discovered a leaking appliance, very carefully, tighten the connections with a wrench. However, if that doesn’t stop the leak or you need help, you’ll need to have a professional inspect and repair the leaky appliance.

Leaking water heater

A water heater that’s leaking can cost you double that of a normal cold water faucet leak because you’re paying for:

  • Wasted water
  • Wasted energy that was used to heat that water

Not to mention, a leaky water heater will eventually burst, which, according to a study by, can potentially cost over $4,000 in water damages.

A water heater can leak due to:

  • Age
  • Corrosion
  • Sediment build-up inside the tank
  • Neglect
  • Water output temperature set too high

So, if you see water pooling around your water heater or signs of drippage, have a plumber inspect the unit immediately.

Related: Water Heater Leaking From the Top? Here’s What to Do

A water softener that runs non-stop

If you hear your water softener running continuously, it’s most likely stuck on “regeneration mode” and is wasting over 100 gallons of water every day.

You see, water softeners regularly go through a “regeneration” process which allows the unit to continue to remove the excess minerals in your Arizona hard water. The regeneration process, also called “backwashing” usually happens every 3-6 days. One regeneration cycle typically requires 50 to 100 gallons of water, depending on the size of your water heater.

So if you hear your water softener running non-stop, your unit is likely “stuck” in the regeneration process and you’ll need to have a plumber inspect the water softener and repair it.

A sudden, dramatic change in water use

Sometimes, a seemingly small change in water usage can cause unusually high water bills.

Some water usage changes to check for include:

  • Hosting guests
  • Having the kids home for the summer
  • Watering the lawn in the summer
  • Filling a swimming pool

If you notice a change in your household water usage habits and want to lower your monthly water bill, check out our blog, 4 Resources to Combat High Water Bills in Arizona.

Need help from a Phoenix plumber?

If you’re struggling with high water bills, just contact us.

We’ll send over an experienced plumber who can inspect your home to find and repair the problem.

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