How much does 24 hours of constantly running toilet water cost?
August 9, 2008 10:31 AM   Subscribe

How much higher would a water utility bill be with a toilet that runs 24 hours a day?

Long story, but my building manager has claimed, through some unfortunate hearsay, that my toilet was running 24 hours a day for two weeks before I took care of the problem. He has informed me that I will be charged for any excess on the water bill. Now, my toilet WAS running, but two weeks is a gross overestimation. I'm not going to allow them to bill me on conjecture.

But, in any case, I was still wondering: approximately how much does 24 hours of constantly running toilet water cost?

Does anybody have any insight?

posted by kmtiszen to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Couldn't say but you may want to specify the water company and location. Also, you may want to check your lease to make sure that your landlord is permitted to charge you for things like this.
posted by proj at 10:53 AM on August 9, 2008

According to this site A "running" toilet can waste two gallons of water per minute. A silent leak in a toilet can waste up to 7,000 gallons of water per month. You would have to find out what your local water utility charges for water.

However, the bigger issue is that a properly maintained toilet should not run. Is it not your landlord's responsibility to fix it? Or did you not tell him about it, and that's the issue?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:57 AM on August 9, 2008

There may be other issues as well. A stuck toilet on my floor caused cold water to flow constantly through the pipes, which created condensation, that dripped on and damaged a computer running on the floor below me.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:10 AM on August 9, 2008

Also... according this site, the average cost per gallon across the US is $0.002. ("In Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, AZ, tap water costs about $.001 per gallon. In Tucson, AZ, tap water costs about $0.0025 per gallon. It Pittsburgh, PA, Washington, DC, Boston, MA, and other east coast cities, water costs around $.001. The average cost of water in Los Angeles, California is about $0.004 per gallon.")

That would mean 14 days X 24 hours X 60 minutes X 2 gallons = 40, 320 gallons.

At .002 cents per gallon, that comes to $80.64.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:13 AM on August 9, 2008

My toilet ran up a several hundred dollar bill, but most of that turned out to be fees for wastewater treatment. My utility forgave the majority of those because the water was 'clean'.
posted by jamjam at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2008

when my toilet was running (i also had a leaky faucet) my water bill was about ... 4 times higher than normal. and that wasn't an audible, visible leak; it was obvious but subtle.
posted by msconduct at 12:03 PM on August 9, 2008

Mine was about 3 times higher than normal when my toilet was running. Like jamjam my utility forgave almost all of it. Check the website for your local utility or call them - I had to write a letter (it was literally a paragraph and a half) and send it to them saying what had happened and that it had now been fixed.

I'd look at your local utility's website for language about this situation, or call them, or both. It would depend on how much you get charged for water as to how much it would cost you. But for 24 hours, the figure I'm conjuring is about 5-10 dollars extra.
posted by cashman at 12:12 PM on August 9, 2008

Around Christmas I fix two of my parents toilets and their water bill has dropped by $100 a month. They're in Manchester, NH if that helps.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:38 PM on August 9, 2008

I had a similar problem except that the problem was that my water pressure at the house was too high and not even nice new brass hardware could cope with the pressure and keep the toilets from running. I had a pressure reducing valve installed and my water bills were cut in half; immediately before that I had an additional leak right where the valve needed to go and in less than a week my water bill for that month was doubled. I do not have sewer so that blunted the cost some. Contact the water company, they will often work with you on paying for a leak's impact. They do this because it is cheaper to encourage conservation than increase capacity; one of my wife's friends is director of the waterworks in a small town and that is her take on it. (She is also the one who got on to me to fix the toilets when she came for a visit and heard them running.)
posted by TedW at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2008

To actually answer your question, the exact amount depends on the magnitude of the leak (there is a big difference between a toilet running wide open and a leaky flapper valve that dribbles a little bit), but for 24 hours it should not be too much excess; another variable is how big your building is. If you are in an apartment building with 10, 20, 50 or however many units, then your toilet is likely an insignificant contributor to the total water use, even with a fairly large leak. On the other hand if you are in a duplex, your leak could be seen on the bill. Again, that depends a lot on other usage patterns: yard watering, car washing, filling up the kiddie pool, and so on may have a comparable or even much bigger effect on the overall water use of your building than a leaky toilet. Are you renting? If so, isn't your building manager responsible for fixing the leak in the first place? Your lease/rental/purchase/whatever paperwork may have some fine print dealing with this sort of thing.
posted by TedW at 8:30 PM on August 9, 2008

I'm a landlord and I'm surprised that your landlord thinks he can get away with sticking this on you.

It is possible for a toilet to run without someone really noticing. Sometimes it's a big leak and sometimes it isn't. Many times the water utility is in fact the first to notice -- we have received bills with a preprinted card that says basically "You have an unusually large bill this period. An appliance such as a toilet may need repair." The idea that you should have known about this, even if you in fact did, is difficult to prove.

In any case, unless you have an unusual lease arrangement, the appliances in your apartment are the responsibility of the landlord, and holding you responsible for what is essentially an overdue repair or replacement is pretty hinky.

I would send the landlord a letter outlining your knowledge of landlord-tenant law and his responsibility for keeping appliances in good working order. It is your understanding that any excess costs were the result of the toilet not working correctly, and that any future problems with the toilet will be reported promptly ... to your local housing and code department. That should get him to shut up.
posted by dhartung at 10:23 PM on August 9, 2008

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