Have you received a water bill that seems abnormally high? It’s easy to panic when you suddenly have unexpected expenses, but it’s important to stay calm. With a little investigation, you can discover why your water bill is so high and figure out how you are going to pay it. To handle an unexpectedly large water bill, these four things need to happen.

Check to Make Sure the Bill Is Correct

Though rare, it is possible for water companies to make a mistake. The first thing you should do when concerned about a bill is give your local utility company a call. In some cases, the issue might just be a minor accounting error that can be resolved over the phone, or the customer service member can explain unusual fees or taxes that might have increased your bill. If it still seems too high, they can send out a staff member to double check your water meter and make sure it is working properly.

Consider Your Current Water Usage

Think about your water usage in the past few weeks to see what could be contributing to the high bill. As the weather warms, many people are turning on water-cooled air conditioners, filling up swimming pools, or watering lawns, and all of this can increase water bills. You may also get a higher water bill if you have a new resident or if someone has been running the shower, bath, washing machine, or dishwasher more often than usual.

Look for Potential Leaks

It’s perfectly normal for water bills to rise a little in the spring, but an unusually high bill out of nowhere can be a sign that something is going wrong. When you have confirmed with your water company that your home did indeed use all that water, it is time to start looking for leaks. Check your water meter, avoid running water for a few hours, and see if it has moved. Look at all visible piping and water connections, including under the sink and around your outside spigots, to check for dampness. Many toilets get a slight leak in the tank that causes them to quietly run all the time. You can check for this by putting a few food coloring drops in the tank and seeing if the color shows up in the toilet bowl. If you still have not found a leak with these DIY tests, you should call in a plumber. These unexpected emergency repair costs can add up if you do not have adequate savings, in which case you might consider short-term options, like an online line of credit. Before applying, make sure you are able to pay back what you spend to avoid incurring additional fees. 

Decide How to Pay the Bill

Unfortunately, in most cases, you will end up needing to pay your unusually high water bill. If you do not have the funds right this second, you can check with your utility company to see if they have a payment plan. Since unpaid water bills can lead to fees or your water being shut off, you need to pay it as soon as you can.

Unusually high water bills are unpleasant, but they do not have to mean you are stuck paying high bills every month. By figuring out the cause of your high water bill, you can keep it from happening again.