A water bill of $800... ahhh!!

18 Replies

We just received a bill of $800 for sewage and water... It's usually just $200 or less. I called the city and they said the meter is fine. I had a plumber come take a look at it and he said nothing is leaking. The city is sending someone over to look at the meter to make sure for $75. Has anyone experienced this problem before? Any advice? I really don't think our tenants can use that much.

I haven't done the process in your area, but in Baltimore Maryland, I appealed a water bill. If I remember right, though, you have a much better chance of appealing it if your plumber does find some sort of leak. I then took my repair receipt to the appeal meeting where they adjusted my water bill. Next, I had to also forward that info to the property tax/assessment office so that my yearly property tax bill wouldn't have a high sewer charge.

Also, just to be sure, talk to your tenants. Ask them if they happen to notice a leak anywhere, or if perhaps they found a running faucet on some time recently. They might know something so it's not such a mystery!

Otherwise, ask your plumber if he is absolutely sure there's no leaks.... no running toilets....nothing???

@Vy Mai

It’s concerning but why panic! If I were you  the I Wait and see next month 

It is concerning and if not a meter problem or a leak, guess what, it's your tenants.

Don't expect them to admit anything, you will need to hunt them down. Tenants have been known to start a laundry business in the community if they have machines available in the unit to use.

4X the usual is very serious and needs to be tracked down immediately. When was your last regular inspection performed on the property. 

If you do not find any problem and next month the bill is back to normal send your tenants a bill for $600 with a full explanation including pre and post water bills.

Vy,

There has to be a leak somewhere; slab, running toilets etc.... a water leak test must be done right away

I also appeal andctvsy havecsdjusted mine in the past with a copy of the bill where the leak gets fixed

Plumbing leak? toilet leak?  Water faucet valve replacement.

You may want to be watch the water meter time it to satisfy yourself.  City might have overlooked.

Often there is a pipe rupture under the home. Put your ears on the wall see if you can hear water rushing..... There got to have a reason.

I am in NYC, ran into these issues with my water and electric bills.

With the water bill, there was a leak, my plumber fixed it, I appealed and it was adjusted by several hundred dollars.

My electric bill problem was more recent and strange. I normally use $120.00/month or so in electric. Two years ago, one January, got a bill for over $3,000. Could it be something wrong with the meter? But my meter was only changed two years before.

Then I just happened to ask about the meter readings. I never read them, but when it happened, I looked at the reading on the meter, and asked them how it varied thru time. Did it just jump ahead last month like crazy. The person I spoke to didn't know, but said he'll check.

I got a BIG surprise. After they changed me to my new meter, the readings were lower than the old ones. They figured there was something wrong, didn't bother to send anyone to my house to check the meter out. What did they do? Made up readings and sent me an estimate bill every month, but not mark it down as an estimate. It was made up manually, and I didn't realize they can do that. Then when they sent me the $3,000 bill, someone goofed, inputted info wrong, and somehow sent the made up bill that way.

When I called, even they couldn't figure out how a regular apartment can run $3,000/month in electric bill. Did you run some machinery for the business they ask? Your tenants? My answer was NO. We got no room to run a business with large machinery, like growing marijuana.

Now, electric bills are done monthly. You know what I asked? Simply what was the Dec reading and what was the Jan reading. Yep, when he looked at that, it was no $3,000 bill.

Turns out my old meter had bills of $160/month, and the new one produced bills of $120.00. Someone thought it was something wrong with the meter.

I promised myself I'm going to record meter readings every month but haven't yet. It's the strangest billing issue I ever ran across, and haven't read about it on any blog. Since two years ago January, my electric bills had been running $50.00/month less than before,  based on meter readings, and I had no time to chase after them for errors they may have made years before.

One thought I had in your case is see if you can get a historic record of all your meter readings. The only question is, based on what happened to me, are their records your true meter readings.

Go into the house and make sure everything is off: washer, dishwasher, turn toilets off, turn off all valves to sinks, and any valve that allows water through it.

Once you have done this watch the meter, there should be no movement. If you see the small dial turning slowly it means there is a trickle somewhere. If you have rechecked everything and ensured everything is off, and it still running, you have a leak from meter to house.

Get under the house and see if there is any damp areas. If none, then you may have a leak underground.

Originally posted by @Cody Campbell :

Go into the house and make sure everything is off: washer, dishwasher, turn toilets off, turn off all valves to sinks, and any valve that allows water through it.

Once you have done this watch the meter, there should be no movement. If you see the small dial turning slowly it means there is a trickle somewhere. If you have rechecked everything and ensured everything is off, and it still running, you have a leak from meter to house.

Get under the house and see if there is any damp areas. If none, then you may have a leak underground.

 I had these issues through the years. The plumber I used had a listening device that can detect leaks when everything is shut off. OP mentioned he had a plumber check it, and the city will check it. Now, there couldn't be intermittent leaks that not detectable.

But 4 times normal is a very major, in my book. In my case, the electric utility ask me to pay an estimate of my monthly bill till the issue is cleared up.

For our properties, all the tenants are responsible for utilities which makes my job much easier. 

Turned out this came from a leak we had like 3 months ago. We fixed the problem already and the city said the graph shows the tenant's consumption is back to normal. So thanks to your advices, I will try to appeal/abate so I won't have to take on such a hefty bill. Love all your feedbacks!!! Thanks so much!

I keep a monthly spreadsheet that shows sewer and water usage. Look back on the records and see if you can pinpoint the month things went haywire.

Also turn your main water off to the house and see if the water dial On the water meter keeps moving which indicates a leak somewhere.

Glad you cleared up the issue.

So others can learn from my mistake I replaced a toilet flapper myself and left too much loose chain. The chain would only occasionally catch and hold open the flapper so be careful.

I had a leak in my 4-unit - a tenant's tub faucet was leaking. My plumber alerted me when he noticed my water meter spinning (he was there to install a backflow preventer). 

My plumber showed me how to activate the water meter (the meter was activated using a flashlight) and I decided to redo that tenant's bathroom (it needed a new tub surround, fixtures and I also repaired and replaced the floor). 

According to my plumber, when the water meter is spinning, it's usually a toilet issue - but in this case it was the leaky faucet (yet another reason to do mandatory inspections). 

Usually sometimes, our able to negotiate some portion of the water bill down.....it beats some of the water bills I seen in Chicago! I have seen some water bills owed in the range of $3,000-$5000!!! 

Could it be you have an upset tenant.   Leave water on hours @ a time does rack up quite a bill.  Or extended family n friends using your place as a bath house.

Vy,

Glad you found the water issue! I had a roommate in college and he would get in the shower @ night and just lay in the shower, while it’s running. Several nights I would wake up at 3/4 AM and he was still in there, shower running and all. This was so frequent our landlord came around looking for a leak because the bill doubled since we moved in. There was no leak, just a terribly wasteful tenant. This type of stuff makes me nervous to get into a situation where I pay any of the utilities.

@Jerome Schumacher Wow that's crazy. I think our tenants are never there and seems pretty responsible. If anything, this came from the last tenants.  We have to pay for water by law in Massachusetts unfortunately. 

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