Water bill


Hi folks,
We've just received an exorbitantly high water bill. I couldn't think of anything that would cause this (waste water was really high, which makes me think it's not a leak either? Not sure if that makes sense) - except, since it was mostly over winter, makes me wonder... I've got one radiator that isn't really needed, so I've had the dial somewhere between "1" and the frost protection setting. Could having it on a lower setting, or what I presume is frost protection (its symbol is an asterisk) use a lot of cold water? How do radiators work? Are they connected to the boiler only?
Cheers! I know it's a big ask, so any advice appreciated.
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RedWinged wrote:

I get mine from a well in the garden, so I'm not an expert on water bills!
IIUC, "waste water" is an estimated value based on water used and whether some or all of your rain water is dumped in the sewer. It is subject to negotiation, eg, if you use a lot of water on the garden.
It almost certainly won't be the heating system that is causing the problem.
Water meters aren't read very often these days. They work on estimated values which can drift way off actual consumption. Then, when the meter is finally read, there can be a great shock as all their underestimate of use catches up.
That same infrequent meter reading and use of estimates can mean that even a relatively small leak can go undetected for ages. Leading to a massive bill when finally the meter is read.
If it is just an underestimate of actual use - no problem. Other than paying the bill.
If it is a leak, you need to find out. It can easily get worse and, if you think this bill is bad, try 8 months of an even worse leak..
The normal way to find out is to turn off the internal house stopcock, read the meter, go away for the rest of the day and re-read the meter on return. Any change at all = leak.
There are other, much more remote, possibilities..
-- Sue
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Cheers for the advice everyone!
Just turned off the stopcock under the kitchen sink... dial on water meter stopped spinning. Turned it back on, dial immediately started spinning again - nothing using the water. It's a shame, was hoping if it was a leak it would be between the meter and the house or something, so I could argue. Any ideas on how I could find out where the leak is? Nothing drips, and I can't see or smell damp anywhere. I think the house was built about ten years ago and seems fairly standard, no big stone floors or anything if that helps at all!
Cheers again.
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RedWinged wrote:

A slight leak won't cause the dial to spin. So you do need to turn the water off, take a reading and leave it for several hours to see if the reading has changed, before you can be certain that you don't have an external leak. 24x365, a small leak can get through a lot of water. Even a dripping tap or two can - and that won't show with just a quick glance at the meter, either. So you could have an external leak, unless the meter stays still for hours.
If the dial is positively spinning and there is no demand, eg no taps on, water tanks filling, loo just flushed - then that is quite some leak.
IIUC one way of locating leaks is to wander around pressing a stethoscope against pipes and listening.
Another is to use a pipe freezing kit to "disconnect" sub-systems, until you find the one that has the problem.
If the copper pipe-work has been there a decade or more, it is possible that it has one or more pin-holes caused by corrosion. The leaking water could be creating all sorts of problems that may not show up for another decade or more. That does need dealing with.
If it isn't solid floors, then having a look at what is going on underneath sounds like a good idea..
-- Sue
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Nothing to do with your radiator. Using the frost setting would only serve to reduce your heating fuel bill.
Waste water charges are normally calculated as a percentage of your water usage (mine as 90%). So that is not an negative indicator of a possible leak. It merely reflects what has calcualted to have come into the house.
I assume your water supply is metered? If so check the readout at the actual meter on the supply pipe to the house. Not on any exterior repeater as these are less accurate. Pick a day when you are going out and the house will be empty for a reasonable period. Read the meter just before you go paying particular note of the last dial's digit (on mine that is a red dial). Read it again as soon as you come back. It shouldn't have moved. If it has you have a likely leak somewhere.
The meter on the supply pipe should be accurate enough for you to draw off a measured amount of water and ascertain that what you have drawn is properly reflected on the meter. If they differ then a meter fault is likely. You can always get your supplier to check the meter, but if they find no fault they will likely charge for the work.
There used to be reports when meters were first introduced of a neighbour's usage causing people's meters to spin if they shares a common supply from the main. I don't think that is true any more though.
Mel.
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Its unlikely to be your central heating, and certainly not any adjustment to one rad that is causing your problem. The following story might say something re. any likely problem but probably says more about my Mother in Law.
I advised she had a water meter installed to save money. As per usual t'wasn't till Mr. Smith/jones/brown suggested the same that it became a good idea. Duly installed she pays 11 pm + waste at a fixed %age of the 11 (6 I believe) 1 year of estimated bills goes by then the meter is read and she has a 700 demand. Suddenly I am to blame for my recommendation (no change there then) I suggest a leak, she calls, out comes a 'water board' jobsworth who ensures that all water sources in the house are turned off notices the meter is spinning and confidenty predicts a leak in the front garden. Likely repair/replace cost 1000 to 1200.(NB jobsworth did not turn off the house stopcock) By now the 700 plus the 1000 is all my fault Smith Jones and Brown wonderful peeps that they are must of course be blameless. Mr water board inspector appears, badge'n all, this impresses the outlaw, and he duly inspects, and announces the dreaded front garden syndrome. 1200 plus 700 and of course he must be right, after all he is an inspector. I finally pluck up the courage to visit the outlaw, turn off her stopcock, ensure via the kitchen tap that the stopcock is effective and see that the meter is still. With stopcock open and no water source in use the meter turned quite rapidly. Since no wetness/dampness was visible I announce a leak under the concrete kitchen floor (the only place mains water travelled inside the house without being visible). The outlaw calls in a local plumber 3250 He has to decimate her kitchen find the leak and repair and magically rebuild her kitchen. I politely suggest that all that is needed is a new pipe run from stopcock to sink hidden behind or under kitchen cupboards with a reconnect to upstairs supply. Further I suggest that plumbperson is either exeptionally stupid or more likely a thief. So the outlaw calls back said ermm thief suggests the alternative to which he estimates 350 and she gives him the work. (I still to this day cant get my head around that) The water company forgave her the 700 The inspector still inspects The plumber still rips off oops he still plumbs I never offer the outlaw advice.
Peter

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