Four months ago I moved into a house built about 10-11 years ago. With our first water bill, billed semi-monthly, we were billed a usage of 3750 gallons. Our next bill showed a usage of 9100 gallons. I raised the flag to the utility and they sent a tech. No one was home and the tech said there was no leak indicated at the meter.

It is just my wife and I. We've evaluated the "usual suspects." We haven't had overnight guests. We don't water the lawn. And we don't wash our cars at the house. I then thought I should turn off the supply to the only external bib, just in case I had been the victim of theft.

A few days later I realized I didn't release the trapped water. I went out back, turned on the water and: Nothing. No trapped water, bone dry. Now, I live in the Mid-Atlantic and it hasn't been unseasonably hot but it hasn't been particularly cold either. So I wonder if the water had dripped out/evaporated OR someone had attempted to turn on the water with the source turned off.

My question, then is two-fold: 1) What other reasons could be causing that increase in water usage? 2) Could the trapped water have escaped without turning it on?

Thanks in advance.

  • 2
    3750 sounds low for two people, for two months. With old appliances, my wife and I often had readings amounting to 100 gallons per person per day. So that'd be about 6,000 gallons per month. 9,100 could be efficient usage for two people for two months.
    – donjuedo
    Oct 21, 2015 at 21:27

3 Answers 3


Make sure all the bills you look at are based on actual meter reads. Some utilities will estimate some of the bills (say, every other bill) based on historical data to avoid having to come check the meter as often. Since you haven't been in the house very long it's possible they're using historical data from last year (maybe the previous residents filled up a pool in the summer, or watered the lawn?).

If that's not the issue, see if you have access to the water meter. If so, write down the reading before you leave the house for the day and then again when you come home.

Also note that a "typical" (whatever that means) person uses about 50 gallons/day, which for you should work out to about 6000 gallons per billing cycle. So these numbers don't seem way out of line.

EDIT: reading over these numbers now I can't help but notice that over your two billing cycles you are averaging 50 gallons/person/day, which is exactly the EPA's "typical" number. I wonder if your first bill was estimated and the second one was high to make up for it.

Also, I think the faucet thing is a red herring. If the faucet was leaking thousands of gallons you would notice it. And there's no way for someone to steal a meaningful amount of water from an outdoor spigot.


If you're on WSSC water, they jacked up the rates a month or two ago. They also charge more per gallon of you use more water (which is discriminatory towards families - search for the change.org peteition)

You should always have your hose bib turned off if you're not using it. Hoses are notorious for leaking, and if one explodes while you're away, you'll consume a ton more water.

You might have a toilet valve that is overfilling and running into the overfill valve. Pull the cover off and make sure it's not completely up to the top.

A leaky sink wouldn't consume that much.

You might have also missed a billing / meter read cycle somewhere along the way and one bill might be an estimate.

You could have a leaky pipe, but odds are you'd see its effects.

You might have a neighbor watering their lawn or filling their swimming pool, or might have simply left something on leaking at (... 6000gal/60days=100gal/day=5gal/hr ) 2 oz/min

9000 gal is only 75 gal/day per person.. Your morning shower is probably 30-40 gallons, toilet flushes on 1-3gal ea, dishwasher, washing machine, not unreasonable.


The usual suspects are water softeners and toilets - things that can leak without a leak being apparent, as the leaked water goes down the drain.

Of course it's always possible that someone has been hooking up a hose and stealing water when you are not home, but it's far down the list, most of the time. If you leave the hose bibb turned off from inside then that would stop, presumably. It's also possible that your hose bibb has been leaking.

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