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Question DetailsAsked on 9/14/2016

Could the septic tank contribute to the leak inside the house?

My water bill has drastically increased and I did the TEST to see if it was inside or outside my house. The answer was it is inside my house. No toilets or faucets are leaking so my question is could it have something to do with my Septic Tank????

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Voted Best Answer

No - nothing to do with septic tank. That takes the water from the house and separates/treats it but should not affect the usage of water from the utility.

When you say you did the TEST, I presume you mean you made sure all water usage was turned off in the house and found the meter was still turning, showing water is flowing through it even when all in-house demand points are off.

I presume you have checked you bills to be sure the increased cost is due to increased consumption, not a general increase in your water billing rate (either in the flat service rate or in the consumption rate) because of drought conditions or such - also look on bills (including the last one BEFORE the increase) for any notices about rate increases. Rate increase info can also be found on the utility website.

Obviously your water is metered, and since your bill has gone up (assuming you have not added residents in the house) the leak has to be on the house side of the meter to get a bill increase - so look for leaking appliance like a water heater or boiler, or a leaking faucet or toilet. Faucets easy to tell if they are leaking. Toilets in high water cost areas you can get $100+ in bill increase without visible toilet leakage, just from a very slight trickle into the toilet which may not be enough to be noticeable or audible - put some food coloring into the water in the tank and see if the color trickles into the bowl without flushing. After test be sure to fully flush toilet to get coloring out so it does not stain tank or bowl.

Also check in unfinished basement/crawlspace and around outside of foundation for pipe leaks/wetness, and check any swimming pool/sauna/etc for leakage.

Other common sources of water loss - leaking or overflowing pool or pool pipes, pool stuck on self-cleaning routine or pool vacuum left in the pool and connected so dumping a lot of water down drain. Also, water conditioner stuck on backflush cycle, irrigation/sprinkler/expansive soil trickle feed system stuck on, or outdoor faucet/hose broken or left on (commonly by children playing in the mud). Also any outdoor fountain or fish pond or such with automatic water fill systemor fill valve. Also humidifier (with permanent water connection) with broken or leaking hose.

Otherwise - you can buy a metal-head (works MUCH better than plastic head) stethoscope at pharmacy for about $10-15 and, with all fans and pumps and such in house turned off so you can hear clearly, listen at pipes to hear which ones have loud water flowing sound, and move in the direction it sounds louder till you find the source. Start at the meter so you know what the flowing water sounds like, then try at faucets and exposed pipes in the house. You can also listen at drain pipes that are exposed near where they go into the ground to hear if water is running down them from some point in the house, and trace back to the source via the drain pipes if that is the case.

Unless the water is going down a drain or rapidly soaking into soil in unfinished crawlspace or basement, with a drastic increase in water usage cost youshould have a big pool of water accumulating, so if no leaks down drains in the house, time to start checking your outside piping. Some water utilities will come out and "listen" at the pipes even on your side of the meter for you at no charge, others not. If not, you can gently push a metal rod into the ground a foot or so (avoid buried cables) and use the stethoscope on top of it to listen for the leak in the ground - moving along the line alignment and listening every 3-4 feet or so. Also, look around for boggy or greener spots on the ground above the waterline, though if in true winter area so it is buried deep that may not occur even with a large leak.

Meter failure - if meter is NOT moving when all water usage in the house is off, use a 5 gallon bucket or such known volume container and, with all other water uses in house turned off and measure out about 50 gallons of water usage and see if it accurately reads that change on the meter. (A cubic foot of water, if billed that way, is 7.48 gallons. A CCF or HCF is a hundred cubic feet of usage - a common billing quantity). You will have to figure out how your meter reads - in gallons or cubic feet (should say on the meter face), and what quantity each dial (if analog rather then digital) is measuring. Also, on digital meters can also be in gallons or cubic feet, and may or may not read fractional units (generally different color or shade right digit if a decimal quantity like tenth's of a cubic foot or gallon, or may show a decimal lpoint). Utility website will generally have a How To Read Your Meter instruction in the FAQ page. If you suspect the meter accuracy after testing it, AND it is not reading when not water is being used, ask your utility to test it and replace if necessary.

Once fixed - and be sure if a plumber fixes the leak that the invoice indicates that a leak was fixed and where in the system it was - many utilities will give you at least a partial refund on the additional charges over your normal usage, once you can prove it is fixed. Ditto if the meter turns out to be bad (though generally they read low, not high if they fail) - they should change your billing for the high usage period back to your normal usage during those months.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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