Ring, ring! Is your toilet running? Well, you better go catch it!

Especially if you want to save your water bill. Although you may think that faulty meters, cracked water pipes, or mistakes by the water utility are the most likely contributors to a spike in your water bill, they’re all overshadowed by something much closer to home: a running toilet.

Before we get into the dollars and cents, to really understand the impact of a running toilet on your water bill, it’s important to understand how your bill is calculated by your water company in the first place. Each water utility calculates monthly totals in different ways based on different factors. However, there’s a basic billing philosophy that holds true for all: water in, water out.

Let’s look into it. Each month, your bill typically consists of three parts: a service fee, a usage fee, and taxes. However, what often comes as a surprise, is that you actually pay for all of these parts – twice: for water coming into your home (for drinking, showering, cooking, etc.) and for the water that exits, so that the utilities can cover the treatment and transportation on both ends.

This water in, water out billing philosophy is part of the reason why leaking, and especially, running toilets have a much larger-than-expected impact on a monthly water bill. Since we are not consciously using the water and aren’t aware of it coming into or going out of the home, it becomes difficult to truly gauge how much water and money is going straight down the drain – literally. And the bad news is: it can be way more than expected and can double – or even triple – your water bill.

Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at a hypothetical family of four: The Slaphandles.

Last month, they used 3,000 gallons of water, so their utility charged them for “30 billing units.”  Their bill has a water service charge (water in) of $16.50, and a wastewater service charge (water out) of $10.00. Their water usage charge is 30 units at $1.22 each ($36.60,) and their waste water usage charge was 30 units at $1.51 each ($45.30.) Remember, this is only 3000 gallons of water.

This month, they unknowingly had a leaking flapper in one of their toilets, silently wasting 50 gallons of water every day. On top of that, they had a couple common toilet mishaps occur as well. Earlier in the month, when they left for work and school, the Slaphandles didn’t realize that one of their toilets was running! And although they found out and fixed it as soon as they got home, they didn’t think much more of it for the rest of the month. The second time it happened, Dad said something to the family about being more careful.

What will these toilet problems do to their water bill?

The leaking toilet will waste around 1500 gallons over the month. The running toilet, at a rate of 3 gallons per minute, running for 8 hours is also nearly 1500 gallons of water – and it happened twice. That’s a total of 4500 gallons of water wasted by just one toilet this month! Since their combined water in/water out billing rate is $2.73, and they used an extra 45 units, their next bill will skyrocket by more than $120: double what they normally pay.

And what’s worse? Both of these problems (the leaking flapper and the wide-open flapper,) are only going to get worse with time.

But what can we do? Schedules get hectic, accidents happen, and sometimes, those sneaky wide-open flappers fly right over our heads. We can’t always prevent them. But we can detect them – preferably, as early as possible. That’s exactly where the LeakAlertor comes in. LeakAlertor constantly monitors your toilet for leaks, running toilets, and overflows so you don’t have to. And the best part? It notifies you both audibly and visually before you even leave the bathroom. So in honor of Fix-A-Leak Week, check out the LeakAlertor!