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Help. How do I challenge an excessive water bill?

(42 Posts)
kathsue Wed 06-Jan-21 14:24:58

I've just received a water bill stating I owe them £504. I pay monthly and they want to increase my monthly paymens by almost £100.

Looking at my older bills I usually use between 60 and 70 cubic metres of water per 6 months....this time it's 170!

I've checked the numbers on the meter and the reading is correct but I'm sure we couldn't have used so much extra water in these last 6 months.

I am going to phone them but I want to ask if any of you kind G'netters have any advice or experience of this first.

Baggs Wed 06-Jan-21 14:41:42

Could there be a leak on or near your property?

Alygran Wed 06-Jan-21 14:42:05

I can hear water running through my meter when a tap is on or the toilet flushing etc. A few years ago I could hear water moving through even in the night. Turned out to be a boiler leak. Fortunately it didn’t use too much water.
See if you can hear yours with nothing calling for water. If you can’t then call the supplier and explain. They should put a check on your meter. If you can you have a leak somewhere. Call a plumber to find it, then speak to your supplier. They may be willing to help you sort the bill.

grannysyb Wed 06-Jan-21 15:30:20

Are you on a meter? We are and Thames water charge us £22 a month, used to be £45 before I changed.

kathsue Wed 06-Jan-21 16:45:38

Thank you all. It seems I do have a leak somewhere. There's a little cog on the meter that is still turning even when there's no water being used. Spent the afternoon on the phone to southwest water and Homeserve and someone is coming on the 22nd to have a look.

She said they would put a hold on the bill for now and sort it out later when the leak is fixed.

mumofmadboys Wed 06-Jan-21 17:22:46

We had a leak. The water company reduced the bill. They were excellent.

Nonogran Wed 06-Jan-21 17:23:23

I think and I expect you've been advised, that if a leak is before the meter, South West Water are at fault. If the leak is between the meter & your house, there might be charges to pay?
In my experience, it's worth lifting the stop tap cover (usually outside in street) to check such matters from time to time.
South West Water will probably be helpful & understanding.
Good luck and try not to worry.

janeainsworth Wed 06-Jan-21 17:35:06

When I was working the water bill at my business premises suddenly rocketed kathsue.
It transpired that at some point, a water company employee had managed to attach my meter to next door’s property as well as mine, so I was paying for their water as well as mine.
I got quite a lot of money back.

Grannyben Wed 06-Jan-21 18:58:40

I'm with Anglian Water and have had 2 leaks over the last 5 years which increased both bills considerably. I rang and they were amazing.
I'm sure they will look at yours again once your leak has been investigated.

ElaineI Wed 06-Jan-21 19:04:06

Glad you have found the problem and hope it is sorted soon. So happy we don't have water meters!

MamaCaz Wed 06-Jan-21 19:22:45

I can hear a leak through our pipes that is very noticeable in several rooms of our house, and it turns out that the leak isn't even on our propery.

Eighteen months on, and Anglian Water still haven't acted on it.

kathsue Thu 07-Jan-21 17:51:05

Got another letter from SWW today

You are using a lot more water than usual. If you don't think you have used all this water you may have a leak

It went on to tell me what to do about it.

Pity they didn't send me that letter first, before worrying me with a massive bill!

Oldbat1 Thu 07-Jan-21 20:53:39

We had this. Water company reduced our bill after we found our downstairs toilet was to blame! It was continuously filling the cistern but we couldn’t hear it doing so. I was surprised how much water was wasted through this leak.

GagaJo Thu 07-Jan-21 23:42:08

One of my neighbours has a leak. It runs out of their garden, down the street, past my house. It has been going on for years. Last summer, I got sick of it. It carries rubbish with it, which often gets stuck in front of my house. I complained to Northumbrian Water and they went out, checked it wasn't a leak that was their responsibility (it wasn't) and contacted me to say there was nothing they could do about it.

I assume the house was on water rates, rather than a meter because the owner has lived there for many years. All that wasted water.

Calendargirl Fri 08-Jan-21 08:01:08

So happy we don’t have water meters

If everyone had a water meter, there might be less waste, see previous post by Gagajo.

We pay for the gas and electricity we all use as individual households, why is water any different?

elleks Fri 08-Jan-21 10:10:14

We had this; the water board contacted us because our usage had doubled (and only the 2 of us here) and it turned out we had a leak at the front of the property, just inside the boundary line.

helgawills Fri 08-Jan-21 10:14:34

Talking about high water bills, I did several surveys from Severn Trent Water through the year, and each time they asked about the amount we paid for our water. They are planning to implement some improvements, ie safe swimming areas near waterways, I guess to reduce water use for paddling pools, and illustrated increase on typical bills, ie £2 per month. All the illustrated bills were under £400 a year, ours is £427. We don't have a meter and there's only 2 of us. A long time ago, a family with 9 children lived in the property. I was going to wait for next bill and then challenge the cost. How much should I expect to pay?

nipsmum Fri 08-Jan-21 10:26:37

Move to Scotland . water rates are included in our rates package paid to the local authority.

Cuckooz Fri 08-Jan-21 10:28:32

I agree Calandergirl, all properties should have water meters. I know of people without water meters who leave the taps running when washing vegetables, cleaning teeth etc. Water is very precious and shouldn’t be wasted.

Kathsue I hope your problem is soon sorted out and your high water bill is reduced drastically.

Sashabel Fri 08-Jan-21 10:50:47

My sister lives nearby in a similar house to mine and is not on a water meter. She pays £55 per month. I am on a water meter and pay £22 a month. We both live alone so our circumstances are very similar and I don't worry about how much I use. I would be just a careful not to waste such a vital resource whether I had a meter or not.

Annaram1 Fri 08-Jan-21 11:02:42

I live in a block of flats. In our courtyard there are a number of drain covers. A few feet from my bedroom one started leaking and masses of water soon covered our courtyard. I reported this to South West Water and so did a number of other residents. We expected SWW to be alarmed at the amount of water - theirs - going to waste. Not a bit of it! They did not care and would not do anything about it. Why not? Because they said that although the water was theirs the pipes are not theirs. They are private pipes so not their responsibility. There are a number of elderly residents who could slip if the huge puddle ices over. Some residents have lost water pressure. This morning SWW rang up to confirm that they would not be fixing it and they would sue us if we did not get it fixed within 30 days... the problem is that the actual land does not belong to the block of flats, but only to one old lady who lives the other side of England and wont be bothered by it, and furthermore she wont want to pay.
However another resident called a plumber and the work is now being done. I wonder how much it will cost us.

HannahLoisLuke Fri 08-Jan-21 11:18:03


We had this. Water company reduced our bill after we found our downstairs toilet was to blame! It was continuously filling the cistern but we couldn’t hear it doing so. I was surprised how much water was wasted through this leak.

Same thing happened to me. My monthly bill increased by 50% for no apparent reason. Then one day I noticed a very faint hissing sound coming from the downstairs toilet. Got the plumber to check it and he put on the light, lifted the toilet lid and told me to look in the bowl at the water, there was a very slight shimmer on the surface which was due to the flush not cutting off. It had been going on for at least a year and that’s why my bill had increased. Once it was fixed the bill dropped back to normal.

25Avalon Fri 08-Jan-21 11:27:30

If the leak is on your property you will have to pay for it unless it is included on your house insurance. If the leak is outside the Water Board should pay.

Do not wait. Ring your Water Authority right now as if the fault is on your side it will cost you. They will tell you to turn off the stopcock and then see if the water meter is still running. If it is you have a leak and are responsible to get it fixed pdq. If the leak is your fault they will not make you pay the larger than expected bill all at once but will allow you to pay by instalments.

Cambia Fri 08-Jan-21 11:29:29

We also had this earlier in the year. We were locked down in Greece and couldn’t get back for three months, so knew that nobody was using the water! They sent a letter saying we were using more water than normal! Apparently there was a leak that stopped and started again......nearly £1000 of water. It took us months to sort out, as we pointed out, a leak of that size would have been noticeable! After three months of checks, we eventually got them to change the meter . Although they insisted that this could not be faulty, the problem desisted. To be fair, they did not charge us for the unexplained leak.

win Fri 08-Jan-21 11:30:08

I have just gone through a 6 months period of water leaks, the first one from the overflow on my tank, the second the upstairs toilet and the third the downstairs toilet. I have a contract with home serve who fixed them all I kept a log and the water board then check my usual usage back for the past 12months. Gave me refund in line with my usual usage. it came to over £ 300 refund. I was thrilled. The waterboard and home serve were absolutely brilliant as I was naturally worried about the enormous bill, and kept re-assuring me I would not have to foot the bill. I was amazed at the waterboard they had 4 different people phoning me and explaining every step and detail. brilliant service. I am very hard of hearing and cannot hear water running even with aids in, I did not think they would believe, but was pleasantly surprised. Hope you receive the same service kathsue