As potentially lucrative as property investing is, there is a downside. Operating costs of multifamily properties can become the bain of your existence! One of those expenses that can become mammoth is the water bill. While there are times of the year you might expect higher than normal water usage, for instance, the summer months when kids are out of school or in the winter when tenants may be running water to protect pipes from frost, but sometimes there's no easy explanation for high water bills.
Let's look at why your water bill may be inexplicably high and what you can do about it.
According to the EPA, of the more than 300 gallons of water the average American uses in their homes, 24% of that usage is flushed. It should be noted that this figure was calculated in 2016, so current figures could be much higher. Also, these figures are for legitimate use of the toilet, not the possible 6,000 gallons of water wasted each month if the toilet is leaky or running. You could be paying hundreds of dollars for wasted water!
Toilet maintenance may be a nuisance, but it is simple to check for leaks:
- Listen. After the toilet is flushed, how long do you (or your tenant) hear the water running? Even when it hasn't been flushed, a hissing sound may indicate a leak.
- Use Dye. Remove the toilet lid and add a few drops of food coloring (or dye tablet) to the water. After 15 or 20 minutes, if the dye is in the toilet bowl, there's a leak from the tank to the bowl.
Usually, a simple replacement of the flapper can fix this problem.
To prevent toilet leaks in the future, consider a Toilet Scrooge Toilet Leak Prevention Valve. This device only allows water into the bowl from the tank while the user is present. When they leave the bathroom, the valve closes.
Leaking Faucets and Other Fixtures
Dripping faucets are another reason your water bills are higher than they should be. Only one drip per second can amount to 5.7 gallons of wasted water over 24 hours. Leaking faucets of sinks and showers are easy to detect and fix. Your tenants should be diligent about reporting leaks before a significant amount of water is wasted.
Often, leaking faucets can be repaired with a replacement rubber washer in the faucet handle. In more severe cases, new hardware may be required, which brings us to the next big reason your water bill is high.
Leaking toilets, faucets, or other fixtures may not be as easily remedied as a small replacement part. You might need to replace the entire fixture. Old toilets and plumbing fixtures are less water-efficient than newer models, with aerators and other water-saving low-flow designs.
You might discover a history of repeated repairs of toilets, showerheads, or faucets in the same property. If these fixtures haven't been replaced in many years, you should invest in newer models to save water and, ultimately, save money.
Leaking washing machines, refrigerators, or dishwashers can all be a source of high water consumption. These leaks may be more challenging to discover because these appliances are fixed in place and may be tucked away in closets or compartments. Regular inspections of the floor under these appliances can signal a leak early on.
Also, if these appliances are significantly old, they may need to be replaced with more energy and water-efficient models. For instance, newer dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand. And front-load washing machines use less water than top-load ones.
Main Water Line Leaks
Your water bill may be high for a much bigger reason. If the underground lines that feed water from the metered connection into the property are cracked or the joint is loose, water is being wasted, and your bill is increasing. Damage like this can occur due to the age of the hardware, tree roots, seismic activity, and animal activity.
Leave the proper detection and repair of this kind of leak to a professional.
Your Tenants Are Using Too Much Water
Your first thought when the water bill is high is to consider your tenants' water use. Their water use may be appropriate (even if it makes your bill high), but some of your tenants may have excessive water habits like:
- Running water while brushing their teeth or shaving
- Long showers
- Thawing meats under running water
- Washing dishes under running water
- Washing half loads of laundry in the washing machine
These may seem like minor infractions, but they add up to a lot of water wastage.
You Need a Water Management System
Did you know that you could be paying for air in your water bill? For all the water that passes through your water meter, a volume of air also passes through - and you're charged for it because your meter can't tell the difference. Most meters use Positive Displacement to measure water consumption, which counts everything going through the meter - water and air.
Your tenants can enjoy the same volume of water, but you can pay less for it. You can reduce your water bill by 15% to 20% simply by improving the accuracy of your water meter.
The Water Scrooge Valve is a patented device designed to save you money and water. It works by compressing air and eliminating its volume before it reaches the water meter, so it is never measured.
Figuring Out Your High Water Bill
Considering all the factors that may be causing your water bill to be high can take time and investigation. But it's well worth it. Water wastage is a larger, more serious issue than just making you pay more. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to maximize water usage and stop its wastage.
Are you trying to save money on water bills? Visit The Water Scrooge for money-saving devices.