Normally our water consumption is about 4-6K gallons a month. Probably even lower since I replaced all of our toilets with low flow (1.6 gallon) models while renovating the master bedroom last year.
I received a bill a couple of months ago where the bill had jumped to 13K gallons – not a disaster but definitely a problem. Looking back over my bills I saw that the water consumption had been gradually increasing even before this telltale leap but a shower here, a bath there, who knows what’s *really* normal.
Anyway the first thing I did was to contact the water folks (Cobb County Water) and ask what they could offer and what my options would be. They said they could send somebody out to verify if the issue is theirs or mine and to inspect the place generally.
Basically they just confirmed that there WAS indeed water flowing even with everything turned off in the home and they left behind some blue tablets to use to check the toilets (useless for my new toilets) to check for leaks there.
Insultingly, a few days later I received a note from the water folks informing me that they’d uncovered a water leak and that I needed to repair it and fax (who the heck uses *fax* anymore?) them the receipt or they’d consider cutting off my water… nice.
One bright spot, a few month ago my neighbor had the same kind of problem but it cost him 40K gallons twice. Once on his first surprise bill, and then again on the next months bill. The time lag between when the meter is read and the bill arriving was the cause of a lot of that excess consumption. I’m rather surprised there isn’t *some* mechanism in place to flag certain consumption patterns so that the owner is notified A.S.A.P. when a probable leak is in process. I’d say a 100% or more increase in your water use, especially during a drought, is probably a good red-flag.
Interestingly all our water meters were replaced not so long ago, I guess the shock of ripping out and replacing a meter doesn’t do 30+ year old pipe much good..
Anyway I had both “Rescue Router” and “Roto Router” out to give me estimates and we determined that the issue was probably the portion of the piping supplying water to the faucets at the side of the house under my driveway. The good news is that shutting off the water to this portion of the piping mostly eliminated the leak and didn’t affect service to the inside of the house, so I did this right away and then considered my options.
Both plumbers gave me similar estimates and were within $100 of each other. Rescue Router offered to match any other price that we got, but it was going to be a bit of a hassle just to get them down to what Roto Router was already offering so I elected to just go ahead with Roto Router.
In the end, I needed to have a ditch witch dig a trench through my front yard, had a couple of nice 90 degree ball valves installed, had my poorly-insulated outside faucet in the front yard replaced with a proper hydrant-style faucet and disconnected the other faucets on the leaking line. The plumber, Mike Olah, did a pretty good job of repairing what landscaping could be repaired once the pipe had been laid. The only real sign of work was where the grass was dug up and that will just take some time.
I need to make arrangements now, for an additional $150 (very reasonable actually), to have a new faucet installed on the side of the house fed off of the laundry room. Unfortunately, most of the cost there will be in repairing the drywall that needs to be damaged to route the pipes.