From the Forum – *ridiculous* water bill

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*ridiculous* water bill:

“Hey neighbors. We just got a *ridiculous* water bill. It’s one of a series, actually. I think I need to look into it, but have realized that I have no idea what ‘normal’ water bills are in the area. Am looking to take an informal poll. To give you an idea, I live in a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom place with my boyfriend and our bill was $400 last month. Is that normal or nuts? HELP! Thanks.”

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38 Comment

  • Any chance your toilet(s) could be leaking?

    • Exactly! That issue, in fact, popped our water bill up. Incidentally, you can check a box on the On Line WaterBill payment site that will have them ALERT you when your bill get unusuallly high for your location so you can look into the situation. Than god that was done for us because we’ are in Italy this year and the problem turned out to be in our rented home. The issue was ours but it might have been DCWASA…in which case, you send paper work (discovery cost of plumber etc) to them to adjust your bill.

      Point is, WASA is set up to actualy HLEP you. Don’t assume it cannot be addressed and, indeed, FIXED

    • Even if the toilet’s leaking, it shouldn’t be THAT high. We have a 2BR/2BA condo, and our typical bill is between 40 and 60 bucks. We had a leaky crapper one month that resulted in about a tripling of the bill to 150ish, but nowhere near 400 bucks

  • gotryit

    That’s nuts. If it’s not an accounting error, I’d recommend checking for leaks – possibly underground / outdoors or somewhere that you wouldn’t notice large amounts of water.

  • One possibility – have your previous months’ bills been unreasonably low?
    I ask because when I lived in a rowhouse, the utilities would be estimated too low for a few months and then we’d get hit with a large bill once they came out and actually checked the meter. For example, we once had absurdly cheap gas bills in January and February (like $50/month) and then the March bill was $600 to compensate for the fact that they finally came to check the meter.

    • Bingo. Same thing happened to my condo building, but the hit was much higher because they’d undercharged us for years, not months.

    • Yep. Same here. Had a $100-150/mo for a few months, then a $700 the next month! Turns out Wash Gas was estimating our usage rather than charging us actual amounts. It also didn’t help that we had a gas leak causing the high charges.

    • Strange. We were undercharged by Pepco (I think, could’ve been gas) for at least a year because our cost was “estimated” and not “actual.” Didn’t realize this was happening until someone actually came out to check the meter. They never made us pay a bulk payment though. Our bills were just higher from then on.

  • I agree with everyone else. I don’t remember exactly, but we have a two bed two bath and our water bill is maybe 50 bucks a month? Ditto on checking leaks. Another possibility is if you have done construction lately and they have been messing with the pipes that could increase your costs.

  • That’s really high – I live in a rowhouse with 7 people and our water bill is 200-225 on the high end.

  • I live in a DC row house with just one other person. In non-summer months our bill averages $50-$55. During summer when we’re watering outside the bill has been as high as $120, but usually between $80 – $100.

  • Agree with everyone. I live in a 2 bedroom/2.5 bath with a roommate and pay about $50 a month. Time to do some investigating!

  • Yes, that seems way too high. Not sure what type of building you live in, but you could be paying for a neighbor’s water too. This happened to friends who were renting a place in Truxton Circle. They talked to the owner and eventually got it sorted out.

  • Does your boyfriend brew beer?

    • You’d have to brew a lot of beer to get a bill that high. I brew on occasion and I find that my regular bill (around $50, 3BR/2BA) jumps only about $10 per batch brewed.

      • This really depends on your process. For example, I use tap water to cool the wort, unfermented beer. In the summer time it take much more time/water to cool the wort due to high ground temps as opposed to winter months.

        • I would assume that if you have any sort of coil cooling system that it takes no more than half an hour to cool your beer. I would have to think leaving your faucet on for half an hour would be less water than a half an hour shower, so I would think that would be the equivalent of less than three regular showers; I can’t imagine that has too big an impact on your bill.

          • yeah, and to effectively use a wort chiller ( copper coil) you need to have the water moving pretty slowly, not gushing through it

  • justinbc

    2BR / 2BA with the two of us and our bill has been $80 the last 2 months (which seemed high to me).

  • Do you rent or own? Apartment or row house? (Sorry if you mentioned and I just missed, been a long day). I ask because maybe if you’re in an apt building you can ask if residents (or inquire with building manager) if this is normal? Perhaps there’s a leak only in your place, but maybe someone’s been reading the meter wrong. I had that happen to me a while ago and after a few phone calls – basically saying there’s no way a single person can use this much water in one month and requesting that they send someone out to re-read the meter and remedy the problem. All of my previous water bills were in the $30-$45 dollar range and I got one for $350.

  • You should be able to log into your account and view day-by-day usage. If there’s one or two outrageously high days maybe a toilet was running all day (can happen if the flapper doesn’t set right after flushing). If it’s consistently high it’s probably a leak or some other issue.

  • yea, thats crazy high

  • If you’ve moved in recently it’s possible they are billing you for the previous resident’s unpaid usage.

    • Good point. Pepco tried to get us to pay for the previous month’s unpaid utilities by the former tenant.

    • When we bought our house it took them close to 4 months to send us our first water bill. When they finally did, it was $300 but that made sense considering they didn’t bill us the entire time before that.

  • I had this happen once to a home outside the area. I received my water bill and it was $1000. My plumber found a leak under the house. The good news is that if it is a leak, most water authorities will reduce the bill once you show you have fixed the leak.

  • Call and ask for an appeal, I think DC water gives you 30 days from the bill date to do so. As mentioned, if you’re a new occupant (first bill), they may have tried to pass prior occupants charges or you have a toilet that runs all day/night for weeks.

    • It’s hard to get an appeal if you’re a new occupant. They just argue that they don’t have any past usage history of yours to go by.

  • You can track your daily usage on DCwaters website. There are 4 of us living in a 5 bedroom rowhome, and our bill varies from 90 in the fall and winter to 120 in the summer.

    If it isn’t a running toilet, then you either have a faulty water meter (located in the sidewalk or tree box) or a leaking water line to the house cause ~400 in water bills is pretty astronomical for a house.

  • houseintherear

    1100 sq ft house, about $45/month.
    I fought a water bill a few years ago. It ended up being for an adjacent property, and for “impervious surface” charges (because the property is paved with concrete in back)… none of this was on the bill, just my name and address and a huge amount of money that I apparently owed. Thankfully, DCWater just got a new investigation billing person to replace the worthless piece of crap who worked there for years and refused to help me fix the big bill. The new guy fixed it with one phone call, one email back from him, and less than 1/2 hour. He is some sort of billing supervisor- Omar Javed (omar.javed at nice guy. Good luck!

  • austindc

    Yeah, $400 means something is off. As for your informal poll, for our row house we pay about $15 per month in the winter and $25 – $30 in the summer when we need to water the garden.

    • $15? That covers the “usage” fee on my bill. 2 people, row house, owned by us = $65-85 month depending on the season. guess we shower way too much 🙂

  • Wow, for two of us living in a rowhouse, our bill is a little under $20 with the same charge every single month (the minimum charge, maybe? Or they’ve literally never read our meter and we’ll get a $400 bill some day?). It wasn’t much higher in my last group house where 3 of us never seemed to run over $45.

  • Almost definitely a toilet leak! I had this happen (after two ridiculous bills) and they actually did a courtesy visit to check out the issue. They came quickly so jump on it!

  • Do you have radiant heat? does that matter? (not an expert)

  • I own a 3-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house which I share with 1 other person, and our bill is typically about $50/month. The highest it has ever been is $62.

    Did you just buy your place? Is this your first bill? If so, examine it carefully. Is it possible that you are also being charged a previous balance (plus possible late fees) for bills not paid by the previous owner? If not, then you must either have a leak (a massive one at that), or else there must be some sort of error in the meter reading (for that amount, I’d bet you’re being charged for your entire building, or some other large building, or something).

    There is no way in heck that is a legit bill for your actual usage unless you do a dozen loads of laundry and spend several hours in the shower every day.

  • I would turn off the water to your toilets when you go to work and when you go to sleep for a couple of days and then check and see if there’s any change to your daily usage on your online account. That may help you start to troubleshoot.

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