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Diagnose a High Bill
High Water Usage?
Seeing high usage on your bill can be startling, especially if you were not expecting it. To get to the bottom of the high usage, we recommend a few steps that can help diagnose the problem:
1) If your water usage is increasing with no noticeable leak, one of the first things to check is your toilet(s). Toilets account for approximately 25% of the water used in an average home. Federal plumbing standards now specify that new toilets sold use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush but toilets older than 1992 use 3.5 to 5 gallons per flush. The flushing of a toilet may cost more than the customer realizes as you are being charged for the water used in your toilet as well as a sewer charge if your home or business is connected to the sewer system.
In an average residence, 22 gallons of water are lost to leakage each day, with the most common culprit being either leaking toilets or dripping faucets. Unfortunately, toilet leaks can appear suddenly, and result in a lot of wasted water. Silent toilet leaks can account for up to 300 gallons per day of lost water without anyone noticing the leakage. The most common cause of a leaky toilet is a worn-out toilet flapper. This replaceable component prevents water from leaking into your toilet bowl between flushes. Over time, this rubber part becomes brittle and eventually fails to keep water where it belongs.
To diagnose a malfunctioning toilet, you will need to determine if water is slowly leaking from the tank into the bowl. The easiest way to do this is to add a dye tablet or several drops of food coloring into the tank of your toilet. Wait at least ten minutes. If the colored water makes its way into the toilet bowl, you have a toilet leak!
2) If you cannot identify a toilet as the cause of your high usage, check your yard. Leaks between the RSA main line and your home or business are a common cause of increased usage, especially during the winter months when the ground is frequently freezing and thawing. Wet spots in your yard (when the rest of your yard is dry) can indicate that you have a leaking pipe.
Unfortunately, these outdoor leaks are sometimes not easy to locate. If you are not sure whether your leak is indoors or outdoors, find the water disconnect valve in your home or business, and turn it off. This valve is often found near where the main water line enters your building. Once the water to your home is turned off, take a look at your water meter. For help locating the meter, click here. If the flow indicator is spinning (on older meters) or flashing (on newer meters), water is leaking between the meter and your home or business.
Remember, it is up to you to maintain anything on your side of the meter. So be sure to act quick if you suspect a leaking pipe in your yard. These leaks typically get worse over time.
3) If you cannot find a leak, we can double-check the reading. Many customers have been upgraded to radio-read meters. These readings are transferred from the meter wirelessly - eliminating the possibility of human error. However, manual-read meters are still active in the RSA system. These meters are read visually by RSA staff, and numbers can potentially be transposed or misread for other reasons.
We understand that you may question the accuracy of the meter but it is the only means we have for billing. The internal components of the water meter that record usage are powered by the movement of water toward your home or business. Often, the meter will slow down (leading to lower-than-actual usage readings). The chances that a meter will run "fast" are slim to none. However, if you question its accuracy, RSA can replace it with a new meter and send the current meter to a third-party for testing. Simply fill out the Meter Test Request form online, and we will contact you with more details.