A sudden increase in your water charges could indicate a water leak. Water leaks are often silent and unnoticeable until you get a high water bill.
To check for a leak:
Turn off all faucets in and around the house. Make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are not on. Switch off the ice-maker.
Find your water meter box which is usually located in your front yard near the property line. Look for a leak indicator on your meter (usually a small triangle dial visible through the meter sight glass). If the indicator is spinning, water is running through the meter and you have a leak.
If you do not have a leak indicator, write down the numbers on the register including the position of the dial if there is one.
Leave all the water off in the house and check the meter again in one hour. If the dial has moved or the numbers have changed, you have a leak.
If you verified a leak, you need to find out where it is.
The most common culprit is a toilet. A hanging flapper valve or a flap that is not seated correctly can cause water to constantly seep from the tank to the bowl. The flapper valves and internal components do wear out, requiring servicing.
Take the toilet tank lid off and see if you can either hear or see a leak. If not, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank (the back of the toilet). Let it sit for 15-20 minutes without flushing. Then check the bowl for traces of the food coloring. If the water in the bowl is colored, you have found a leak.
Other common leaks are faucets that drip or slowly run. Make sure and check outside spigots and around the bottom of your hot water heater also. Even small leaks can add up quickly.
If you have determined that you do have a leak and can’t find it, then it could be underground. Most plumbing service companies have detection equipment and are experienced in finding underground leaks.