Oct 3, 2012   //   by Daniel Cordova   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Slab Leaks: A Home Owner’s Worst Nightmare!

Has your water bill increased? Have you experienced any warm spots on your floors? Do you hear water running through your walls? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might have a slab leak problem.

Slab leaks can be devastating and occur in the pipes inside or underneath the concrete foundation of your home, as well as in the incoming water line or the outgoing sewer line. If either of those lines begin to leak, it can cause the soil around them to expand and swell, and in the process, can actually bend your foundation into a dome shape. They often take weeks or months to discover, and unfortunately many homeowners do not realize they have a potential slab leak situation until some damage occurs. This can easily turn into a costly nightmare, which is why it is important to understand the warning signs.


How can you detect a slab leak?

An unusually high water bill is one of the most obvious signs that a slab leak has occurred. If you are certain that there has not been an increase in water usage, and you have ruled out an improperly working meter, it is likely due to the continuous flow of water caused by the leak.

If you happen to hear water running through your home when all should be quiet, this indicates that water is flowing somewhere it should not be due to a hidden leak.

Hot spots on your tile or carpet could also be a result of leaking hot water lines underneath the foundation of your home. If you notice while walking barefoot that your tile or carpet is warm or hot to the touch, it is because when hot water piping under the slab starts to leak, the surrounding soil gains heat and is then transferred to the concrete foundation and up through the flooring in your home.

Cracks in your walls or floors allow water to come through the foundation, creating wet spots and excessive moisture where it should not be. If you have carpeted floors, it creates an ideal environment for mold to grow and you may also experience musty odors emerging from the carpet.


What are the causes of slab leaks?

A variety of causes can lead up to a potential slab leak. Many homes in the Southwestern United States were built with a concrete slab foundation over soft, bendable copper water pipes. These specific pipes are prone to suffer dents and kinks during construction. The chemistry, pH balance, and pressure of the water flowing through can corrode them because they cannot handle having a lot of water rushing through. Pipes that bend or change direction are especially vulnerable to this problem. At the same time, if the pipes underneath your foundation are made out of various metals, it could eventually lead to a leak because those metals have different stored energy that can cause them to react with one another, resulting in an electrical current that leads to pin-hole sized leaks. Natural shifting of the ground due to a change in moisture can also pull pipes apart and cause them to leak. Improper installation by unknowledgeable plumbers can lead to pipes that are too small, of the wrong material, or wrapped incorrectly, and if inferior materials are used, they likely have imperfections that can also lead to slab leaks.


How do you repair a slab leak?

The quickest way to locate the source of the leak is to use a jackhammer. The carpet, tile, or wood flooring is then ripped away while the jackhammer is used to break the concrete slab. This is the messiest and most expensive way to repair a slab leak because of the cost of repairing the damage to the surrounding flooring. If you suspect a possible slab leak, do not panic! These are more common than you think, and a qualified and experience plumber can reroute the plumbing overhead into the walls or through the ceiling so that no further damage will occur to your home.

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