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Slab Leaks: Everything You need to Know

Is your home sitting on a slab foundation? Yes? Then it was most likely built on a concrete slab.

Before building your home, the contractors poured a concrete slab onto the earth and laid plumbing pipes. As a result, most of the pipes in your house’s plumbing system run underneath the building.

Unfortunately, a leak in this system can go undetected for months, causing multiple problems within your home.

This kind of leak is called a slab leak. These leaks are common on the pressure or drainage side of your house foundation.

If the slab leak emanates from the pressure side of your plumbing system, it can easily be detected and mitigated before causing critical destruction to your house. Though they can easily be detected, the damages are significant and expensive if ignored.

On the other hand, if the leak originates from the drainage side, it remains hidden and could stay that way for ages.

The longer these leaks occur, the more devastating and destructive the damages become.

What happens if you ignore a slab leak? A lot will happen, and the consequences can be catastrophic. Since slab leaks aren’t apparent, they can go on and on for a long while, leaving several damages to your house.

It could even worsen to the point where your house begins sinking into the earth. This is why you must be vigilant in your home’s plumbing system.

You may think all is well, but there is a sudden increase in your water bill or low water pressure in your shower and faucets; these are signs of a slab leak and must not be ignored. In this post, we will be helping you understand what a slab leak is, its symptoms and dangers and what happens if you ignore slab leaks.

Understanding a Slab Leak

The foundation of your home is a concrete slab. Your home is constructed on top of a layer of concrete laid on the ground. Any damage to the concrete foundation compromises the value and functionality of the entire building, not to mention the copper lines that are buried beneath this foundation.

When the copper pipes under your home’s foundation are damaged or broken, water leaks through them and affects your concrete foundation resulting in a slab leak.

These pipes may break as a result of shoddy construction, bad materials, or poor craft, among other factors. Unfortunately, unless the damage is evident, this leak’s symptoms are confusing when they occur.

In other words, unless the damage starts to show up within your home, you may have no idea your home suffers a slab leak.

Even the slightest slab leak could raise your water bill, result in costly home repairs, and, let’s not forget, may impact your home’s water supply. You need water daily to do numerous tasks, cook meals, keep the house clean, and many other things.

As the leak continues and is left unchecked, it begins to spoil hardwood on the floor, affecting your walls, wall cabinet, and the overall quality of your home.

Symptoms of a Slab Leak

A slab leak can be caused by various things, including naturally occurring components like landslides, man-made elements like improper installation, and mechanical and chemical elements such as pipe wear and tear and rust.

Different characteristics begin to surface in your house and its perimeter when this happens. Below are some of the symptoms of a slab leak you should be on the lookout for. Call a licensed plumber to get it fixed ASAP.

Low Water Pressure 

A leak in the pipes below your house foundation reduces the pressure of the water flow into your house, resulting in lower water pressure from your faucets and water outlets. If you notice this, you should call a plumber to inspect our house for a slab leak.

Spike in Water Bill 

if you notice a sudden and unusual rise in the cost of your water bill, it may be due to a slab leak. A slab leak means there is a burst pipe below your foundation.

This burst pipe leaks water that should be supplied to your house and waste it to the ground. The water that leaks and wastes on the earth will reflect in your water bill, hence the increase in the cost.

Hot Spots 

Take a walk barefoot inside your house and feel the floor’s temperature with your feet as you do so. If you notice a hot spot on the floor, it may be that one of the hot water pipes has broken and there is a slab leak.

Water Puddles 

Water may gather and create a pool in your house and around its perimeter. This may happen for several reasons, but when there is no noticeable leakage, you should call a plumber for inspection, as the source may be a broken copper pipe below your concrete slab foundation.

Moist and Damp Flooring 

When there is a slab leak in your house, water seeps through the foundation into your house, dampens and moistens your floor and causes damages like wrapping, molding, folding and damp spotting.

If you notice this, immediately call the plumber to check your home before it gets critical to the stage of growing molds and mildew on the walls of your house.

Running Water Noises 

You may hear the noise of running water in your house, you check all your faucets, showers and other water outlets, and they are all shut off. These noises are not in your head but from the concrete slab.

There may be a leak in one of the lines below, causing water to gush out, hence the noise of running water. Call your plumber to rectify the issue before it escalates to the surface of our house.  

Irregular Water Meter Activity

Have you noticed your water meter reading when the water was not running? It may seem like the meter is tweaking, but sometimes, in cases like this, it is due to a slab leak. The meter is reading because water is running underneath the house.

If you notice any or more of these signs within your home, it is a sign of a slab leak, and you must call the plumber for inspection and correction as soon as possible.

Are Slab Leaks Dangerous?

A slab leak is a serious plumbing problem that happens when a water pipe beneath the concrete foundation of a building starts to leak. Ignoring a slab leak can result in various issues that may undermine the building’s structural integrity and pose health risks to its occupants.

Here are some dangerous consequences you might suffer from ignoring your slab leak.

Increase in Water Damage

An increase in water damage is one of the direct repercussions of neglecting a slab leak. If the leak is left ignored, water will continue to seep into the soil and foundation, soaking the concrete and weakening it over time.

Long-term moisture exposure can cause cracks, foundation shifting, and even total structural failure, resulting in costly repairs.

Mold and Mildew Growth

Mold and mildew can proliferate on a surface with constant moisture from a slab leak. Mold can rapidly develop and spew spores into the air, causing respiratory problems, allergies, and other health issues for the building’s residents.

It can be expensive and time-consuming to deal with mold infestations, so treating the moisture problem as soon as possible is crucial.

Higher Water Bills

Ignoring a slab leak might cause water bills to go up steadily. Even small leaks can waste a lot of water, and the problem worsens over time.

Rising utility bills can strain your finances and may not be detected until they become more serious, creating even more problems.

Foundation Damage

The soil supporting the foundation may disintegrate due to the constant water flow from a slab leak, causing shifting, cracking, or settling unevenly. This may result in apparent signs of foundation damage, such as wall cracks, improperly closing windows and doors, and sloping floors.

Slab leaks should be taken care of as soon as possible to prevent foundation problems, which are complex and expensive to repair. 

Structural Instability

The building’s overall structural stability is in jeopardy as the foundation deteriorates. In extreme circumstances, structural instability could result in catastrophic collapses, posing a severe safety risk to people.

The integrity of the building and the safety of its residents depend on the prompt detection and repair of a slab leak.

Electrical Dangers

Slab leaks near electrical parts, wiring, or outlets pose a significant threat of electrical hazards in addition to structural problems. Any contact between water and exposed electrical components can cause short circuits, electrical fires, or electrocution.

As we all know, water is a great conductor of electricity. Ignoring a slab leak could have disastrous effects on the building and its residents.

Damaged Flooring and Finishes

Hardwood, carpet, and tile flooring can all be damaged by water that leaks from a slab. In addition to the financial expense of replacing damaged flooring, this can impact the property’s aesthetics and overall value.

Methods of Correcting a Slab Leak

A slab leak is not without a solution. However, the solution is not one you are qualified to provide. After identifying a potential slab leak, you should call a professional plumber to inspect the issue and correct it as soon as possible. Regardless, I’ll share with you the options for fixing a slab leak.

Correcting a slab leak typically involves locating the source of the leak and repairing the damaged water pipe. There are different approaches to this, and the most suitable one depends on the nature and position of the leak.

Here are some of the methods of correcting a slab leak.

Spot Repair

Spot repair is suitable for small leaks in the water pipe. Here, a plumber will access the area of the slab where the leak is and excavate a small section to reach the damaged pipe. After which, he repairs the leak by patching or replacing the affected portion of the pipe.

Pipe Lining

Pipe lining or Epoxy pipe coating is a trenchless repair method for isolated water line leaks.

It involves introducing an epoxy lining into the existing pipe to coat and seal the leak. The epoxy lining creates a durable, corrosion-resistant barrier that extends the life of the pipe and prevents further leaks.

Pipe Rerouting

Pipe rerouting may be the best option when the slab leak is severe, or the damaged pipe is old and prone to more problems. This technique involves installing a new water line along a different course, bypassing the damaged area of the pipe.

Although more difficult and expensive, pipe rerouting offers a long-term solution and prevents further leaks.

Pipe Replacement

For homes with numerous slab leaks or outdated, disintegrating plumbing systems, pipe replacement is a comprehensive solution.

It entails changing the entire building’s water pipe system, including those under the slab. Repiping assures a brand-new, dependable plumbing system, eliminating the possibility of subsequent leaks and offering peace of mind. However, this option is the most expensive choice.

A thorough analysis of the plumbing system is necessary to fix a slab leak. Hydrostatic pressure testing may be used to identify the precise cause of the leak and evaluate the state of the plumbing system as a whole before making any repairs.

Don’t Ignore Slab Leaks! 

Ignoring a slab leak is a costly mistake that can result in a string of issues, including deteriorating structural integrity, electrical dangers, and growing mold and water damage.

A slab leak must be promptly found and fixed to stop further damage and reduce the cost of repairs. To repair the problem before it worsens, call a professional plumber when you detect a slab leak in your building.

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