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Why is my Toronto water bill so high?

An elderly woman examines her Toronto water bill with a magnifying glass

Uh-oh, there’s something strange about your Toronto water bill: your water usage is way  higher than normal.

What happened? Has your family been using more water lately? Or is there a hidden problem, like a leak, that you should be checking for?

Wasting water isn’t good for your family’s budget or the environment. In this article, we’ll go over the most likely culprits to cause a spike in your water bill.

Have you been using more water?

Before you start investigating, it’s worth considering whether your family has indeed been using more water lately. Sometimes a change in lifestyle or in your home can add to your water bill in ways you might not notice right away. 

Before you start checking for other problems, ask yourself:

  • Have you added any new appliances that would contribute to your water bill? Washing machines and dishwashers are the most obvious, but it could also be a water softener that’s stuck cycling.
  • Does your family have any new hobbies or lifestyle changes that use more water? For example, a budding gardener will use water on plants and a jogger may shower more often.
  • Were there more people in your home this year compared to last year? Was there a child who stayed home for summer vacation or a visiting relative?

If you’re sure you haven’t increased your water use, it’s time to start looking for plumbing problems.

Are there small plumbing problems you need to repair?

Often, small plumbing issues can add up over time in extra water usage.

A dripping faucet, for example, may not seem like it wastes a lot of water. However, that constant drip can add up to two or three buckets of water each week.

A running toilet is even worse—it can waste thousands of gallons of water a month!

Check for these obvious water-wasters first, before moving on to the harder-to-spot problems.

Is your toilet tank leaking?

Sometimes toilet tanks leak so slowly, it’s difficult to notice a problem. But even though the leak is small, it can still add up on your Toronto water bill.

Fortunately, there’s a simple (and kind of fun) way to test for toilet tank leaks.

How to test for a leaking toilet tank

  1. Buy some food colouring from the baking section of the grocery store.
  2. Take the lid off your toilet tank and add six drops of food colouring into the water in the tank.
  3. Wait 45 minutes.
  4. Check the colour of the water in the toilet bowl. If you see it’s changed to the colour of the food colouring, you know you have a leak.

In most cases, toilet tanks leak because of a problem with the flapper. It’s easy and inexpensive to replace, but make sure you replace it with the exact same type of flapper that came with the toilet. Otherwise, you may not get a proper seal and your toilet tank will still leak.

Is your primer pulling too much water?

A bad trap primer can waste a lot of water, and it’s not something that comes to mind for most people. 

You’ll find your primer line in the basement running to the floor drain from a fixture, often the laundry sink. The primer’s job is to always keep a small amount of water in your basement floor drain trap, as a barrier to block sewer smells.

The problem happens when your primer pulls too little or too much water. Too little and your basement will stink. Too much and your water bill (and electricity bill, if it’s pulling hot water) will go up.

If there are worn washers or a partially open valve where the laundry faucet connects to the primer line, water may run continuously. And since you don’t see the water leaking, it can take a long time to spot the problem. 

Warning signs of a bad primer

  • Your basement develops an unpleasant sewer odor (in this case, the primer line is pulling too little water, or not pulling often enough).
  • You hear water continuously trickling from the laundry faucet area.
  • There’s a faint gurgling sound as air is pulled into the faucet to replace the lost water.
  • The concrete floor slabs in your basement are warm (indicating that the primer is draining hot water).
  • There’s an unexplained increase in your Toronto water bill.

If your floor drain is covered or if your primer is draining from another pipe or fixture, you may not notice any warning signs. In this case, it’s helpful to call a plumber to investigate.

If the trap primer is leaking too much water, it will need to be replaced with a new adapter and plastic lining.

Is the main water line outside your house leaking?

If you call a plumber to investigate and they find nothing inside is leaking, the problem is most likely the main water line to the house. This is a rare situation, but we’ve seen it happen.

It’s difficult to spot a problem with the main water line, because it usually doesn’t cause a loss in water pressure. In order to detect a main water leak, a special listening device that can hear water moving underground is needed. 

Replacing the main water line is costly, but fortunately it isn’t usually the cause of high water bills.

Investigating your Toronto water bill increase

You can follow along the steps in this article to look for the most common causes of a high water bill. In many cases, it’s easy to spot the problem and you can have it repaired before it costs you too much.

If you’re unsure of what’s causing the problem, we encourage you to give us a call at 647-404-7139. By noticing and fixing leaks early, you can save a lot of money and wasted water.