You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

Sudden Spike in Your Water Bill? Here's What Might Be Happening

Did you open your water bill this month and notice a significant increase in price? Before you panic, let's go over potential causes and solutions to get to the bottom of your high-water bill. 

In this article, we will talk about:

  • What is the average water usage in Phoenix?

  • What are the warning signs of high-water consumption? 

  • Why is your water bill so high?

  • When should you call a plumbing professional?

What Is the Average Water Usage in Phoenix?

The average Phoenix resident uses about 120 gallons (about 454.25 L) of water each day, which can average out to more than 10,000 gallons a month per household. The good news is that due to effective water conservation systems in homes and businesses, Phoenix residents now use 29% less water than they did in 1990. Of course, usage is based on your home size, number of residents, landscape size, irrigation system, and other factors. Because Phoenix is in a desert climate, water conservation is very important.  

As a general guideline for Phoenix homeowners:

  • 1-2 Person Household: Average usage of 4,000 to 8,000 gallons of water per month

  • 3-4 Person Household: Average usage of 6,000 to 12,000 gallons per month

  • 5+ Person Household: Average usage of 10,000+ gallons per month 

Assuming basic indoor and outdoor usage, your average monthly water bill in Phoenix should range: 1-2 residents: $40-$80 per month; 3-4 residents: $60-$120 per month; and 5+ residents: $100+ per month. Home size, lot size, number of bathrooms, and factors like having a swimming pool and washing machines will also impact the average amount of water used.

If your monthly bill far exceeds these averages or increases suddenly by 50% or more, it's time to investigate potential causes. You can use this water usage calculator to estimate how much water a household needs each month and for the entire year.

What Are the Warning Signs of High-Water Consumption?

If your water bill exceeds normal, this is an obvious read flag. But here are some other important clues that something is amiss with your plumbing or water usage: 

Higher Than Normal Water Pressure

Normally, residential water pressure should be between 50 and 70 psi (pounds per square inch). However, when this pressure exceeds the recommended levels, not only does it lead to faster wear and tear of your plumbing fixtures and appliances, but it also results in higher water flow rates.

Running Toilet That Fails to Shut Off

A continuously running toilet is not just an annoyance; it's a major water waster. Listen for any sound of constantly running water. This could signal a malfunctioning toilet flapper or fill valve. 

Damp and Musty Smells

This suggests hidden water damage behind walls, under floors, or foundations where a leak has created moisture. Addressing the root cause promptly can prevent structural damage and safeguard your health, all while conserving water.

Standing Water Pooling in Your Yard

Do you have noticeable pools of water in your yard when it hasn't rained recently? This could be an indication of a hidden leak or drainage problem. These are mainly from irrigation systems or main lines.  

Gurgling Noises Coming from Your Pipes

Air bubbles in the water lines create gurgling sounds and indicate potential leaks. This can lead to inconsistent water flow and increased consumption.

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, then it’s likely time to enlist the help of a professional to inspect your plumbing. Catching these issues early is important and can save you a lot of money in the long run. 

Why Is My Water Bill So High? 

Trust your senses. If anything seems abnormal with your plumbing or you suspect higher-than-expected usage, thoroughly examine all water fixtures, supply lines, and appliances that use water.

If your water bill has spiked suddenly, the culprit is likely one of the following:

Slab Leaks

Slab leaks are hidden leaks that occur under concrete slabs. They can be caused by corrosion, shifting soil, or poor installation. Failure to fix a slab leak can lead to serious problems, such as flooding and water damage to your floors, walls, and furniture. 

They can also cause mold and mildew growth, affecting your air quality and causing high water bills due to wasted water. Left unattended, slab leaks can cause foundational damage that can compromise the structural integrity of your home.

They can be difficult to detect, but you can keep an eye out for the following signs of a slab leak:

  • Wet or warm spots on your floor

  • Cracks or stains on your walls or ceilings 

  • Musty or damp odors

If you notice any of these symptoms, don't ignore them. Contact a professional plumber to locate and repair the slab leak immediately. The sooner you act, the less damage and cost you will incur.

Constant Drips

Leaky faucets or showerheads may seem harmless. But think about how many gallons escape every day. A faucet that drips just once per second wastes nearly 3,000 gallons of water annually. That's enough water to take 180 showers! 

Leaks and dripping faucets are common in older homes with aging copper pipe systems and plumbing. But even small, constant drips add up, leading to higher water bills over time. Other problematic areas to check for water leaks include:

  • A toilet leak caused by failing flappers or fill valves

  • Faulty sprinkler systems

  • Leaking outdoor spigots and hoses 

  • Pool system leaks

  • Dripping air conditioner drain lines

  • Leaky water softener systems

Even small leaks can add up over time. Do a thorough leak inspection inside and outside your home. Move appliances and check fittings behind them. 

Listen carefully for any sounds of running water and inspect pipes, valves, connections, and fixtures for any drips. Don't underestimate how much water those minor leaks are wasting.

Faulty Water Meter

Sometimes, the problem is not your actual water usage or plumbing system, but with the device that measures and charges you for it. If your home's water meter is broken, misread, or tampered with, it can lead to inaccurate readings and inflated bills.

Signs that your water meter itself may be the culprit include: 

  • Unexplained extremely high readings that don't match your usage

  • Slow or stuck meter dial that fails to spin even with water running

  • Cracked or damaged meter casing

  • Broken or missing meter seals if they appear compromised 

  • Presence of moisture or corrosion around the meter itself

If you suspect a faulty meter, compare several full months of historical readings and bills. Watch for inconsistencies or sudden spikes. Also, have a visual inspection of the physical meter for any damage or signs of tampering. 

Don't forget to alert your water provider as soon as possible and request that they test the meter for accuracy or replace it if it's faulty. Most providers will check and replace meters for free if an issue is detected.

Swimming Pools 

During the hot Arizona summers, swimming pools are heavily used for recreation and exercise. But all that splashing and playing in the pool comes at a literal cost when it shows up on your water bill.

Evaporation alone from a pool's surface can waste up to 1,000 gallons per month as water turns to vapor in the dry, sunny climate. Add to that backwashing filters, kids playing and splashing constantly, and topping off for overflow and leaks, and your pool can easily contribute a significant amount to those monthly water bills.

Check carefully for leaks around pool equipment, pumps, filters, and plumbing. An undetected crack in an underground pipe or your pool or spa liner can spell disaster when it comes to water waste.

Pool slides, water features, and decorative fountains can also be surprisingly big water guzzlers. Consider scaling back or turning off ornamental features to conserve water. 

Evaporation is hardest to prevent, but a good pool cover can help reduce water loss when the pool is not being used. Automatic pool covers are the most convenient option.

Sprinkler System Issues

Faulty sprinkler systems are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to inflated water bills. Just think of all the water wasted from sprinklers watering sidewalks, malfunctioning, and running nonstop.

Signs your sprinklers may be contributing to higher bills include: 

  • Broken sprinkler heads spraying in the wrong direction

  • Misaligned sprinkler heads watering paved areas instead of landscaping

  • Leaky valves and fittings causing continuous water flow

  • Malfunctioning timers turning on at incorrect times or for too long 

  • Clogged sprinkler heads and nozzles preventing proper spray

  • Underground leaks you can't see

Routine inspection of visible sprinkler heads is important to spot issues early before they cause water waste. Also, monitor turf areas for overly saturated spots that signal a leak.

Upgrading old systems to water-efficient drip irrigation can significantly reduce overwatering. And don't forget to adjust watering schedules seasonally. Saving water outdoors can make a big difference to your bill. 

Household Appliances

It's easy to overlook how much water your appliances use daily until you see the impact on your bill. From laundry and dishwashing to showering and household appliances can account for a large portion of indoor water consumption.

Household factors that can increase water use:

  • Old and inefficient appliance models that use more water 

  • Leaks in appliance connections and valves

  • Failing water supply lines

  • Toilets running constantly and flushing unnecessarily

  • Washing small loads of laundry or dishes instead of full loads 

  • Long showers with high-flow showerheads

Consider replacing very old appliances with water-efficient Energy Star models. Don't forget to follow the suggested full load sizes for washing machines and dishwashers. You can also go ahead and install low-flow faucets and showerheads.

Make any leaks in appliances or plumbing a priority repair to reduce wasted water.

Water Softeners 

It's easy to overlook how much water home water softening systems use. They work by removing mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium from the water supply through an ion exchange process.

Softeners regenerate and "recharge" on a regular schedule by flushing their resin beads with a brine solution. This regeneration process uses water to rinse away gathered mineral deposits and refill the tank.

Excessive water consumption by your softener may indicate:

  • Improper regeneration settings or programming 

  • Mechanical malfunction causing it to regenerate too frequently

  • Exceeded system capacity with overly hard water

  • Leaks in the softener components allowing water to flow continuously

Check your owner's manual and recalibrate the softener's settings as needed. Repair any leaks in the brine tank, valves, or connections. 

For major issues, replacement may be required with a correctly sized system. Consider enlisting the help of a plumbing professional to optimize your softening system.

When Should I Call a Plumbing Professional?

Doing some detective work can help zero in on the reason for usage spikes. But not all plumbing issues are DIY fixes, especially for emergency plumbing services

Here are some guidelines on recognizing when to call for backup: 

  • If you have a persistent leak causing extensive damage

  • A drain clog that won't budge

  • Home-wide low water pressure hints at sediment buildup, corrosion, or leaks that professionals are trained to diagnose and remedy

  • No hot water or fluctuating temperature typically means your water heater needs professional repairs  

Any plumbing installation or upgrade is better left to the pros. They have the skills, specialized tools, and expertise to fully diagnose and resolve major plumbing problems like these. Delaying plumbing repairs increases the risk of extensive water damage, mold issues, and even health hazards from contamination.

Don't Let Plumbing Issues Drain Your Wallet Month After Month!

If your water bill is unusually high don't hesitate to contact us for a free estimate.

At Parker & Sons, we are here to inspect your plumbing and pinpoint any problems. Our services include detecting and repairing leaks, installing water softeners and pressure regulators, and more. Let's work together to identify and resolve any leak or issue. Call us today at 602-344-9027 to schedule an appointment and get a free estimate!  

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