Water rates are usually consistent. Sudden increases are therefore generally symptoms of a bigger problem. If you notice that your water bill increases by more than 20% without explanation (such as guests or a new bathroom having been installed) in any given billing period, it's time to start looking for causes. An incredibly sharp increase is almost always due to a leak of some kind. If you cannot find the leak, check your property – there could always be water coming up from a water line somewhere. Whether you can find the problem or not, when faced with a leak or even the idea that you might have one, it's important to call a professional early to prevent any unnecessary damage.
Every water-using appliance and fixture in your home contributes to your water bill, so be on the lookout for ways to reduce your consumption for each. The following products and practices are all practical ways you can easily reduce your daily water usage:
Drains are designed to prevent smells from coming back inside your home, so if you suddenly find yourself wrinkling your nose whenever you enter the bathroom, there is a problem. Fortunately, it is almost always an easy one to fix. The vast majority of odd smelling drains are the result of a dried out trap. Every drain has a U-shaped trap designed to hold a small amount of water at all times. This water blocks sewer gasses from travelling back up your plumbing and into your house. When the trap dries out, there is no barrier and you'll begin to notice a smell when you enter the room. The simple solution is to pour water down drains in your house that aren't used often. If this doesn't resolve the problem, you'll need to call a professional who can thoroughly inspect your system to track down the problem.
A sudden shift in water pressure can be the result of many problems, but the simplest to solve are often those related to the water line or shutoff valve. Check your incoming lines and the valve to make sure there isn't a kink and the valve is open all the way. Another problem you may face is mineral deposit in old pipes. This is common in homes that haven't had their pipes replaced in three or more decades, and while cleaning is an option, you should also discuss the possibility of replacement with your plumber.
Frozen pipes only occur when the temperature around the pipes gets below freezing for an extended period of time. To stop this from happening, ensure your pipes are well insulated. If your water lines are inside, this shouldn't be a problem. However, outdoor or garage water lines may need to be wrapped in extra insulation.
For the most part, tank water heaters are good for 10 years or more, so older units in particular will need a professional inspection to assess the situation and help you review your options. Replacement is the easiest solution in most of these cases, especially given the energy efficiency of modern systems. However, in some others, a broken heating element or sensor can also be a problem. Try to turn up the temperature setting on your water heater and see if it produces hotter water. If not, it's definitely time to talk to a professional plumber.