Homes often suffer leaking pipes regardless of the homeowner’s diligence. Luckily, most of these leaks occur in places that are easy to detect and repair using standard household plumbing tools. These may include in the showers, toilets, and below the sinks. However, some leaks do not have obvious signs and are highly challenging to detect. A slab leak is one of them.
While slab leak detection isn’t an easy task, the dangers associated with the problem are diverse and may cause irreparable damages to a home. That’s why homeowners have no choice but to understand how to detect these situations and repair them before developing extreme losses around the house. This article looks at the causes, dangers, and signs that can help homeowners detect slab leaks and fix the errors.
What is Slab Leak
A slab is the most common form of building foundations in most homes. In this case, masons pour concrete onto a gravel surface or soil. After that, they erect a house on the concrete foundation.
Some pipes usually pass below the slab foundation. A leak in one or some of these underground pipes is what is termed as slab leaks. The foundation is very critical. Any damage under it can compromise the quality of the whole house. That’s why every property owner should attend to slab leak signs with maximum urgency and ensure safety under their foundations.
Slab leaks are a significant concern since they can start as a minor drip with minimal effects and grow into extreme damages that could lead to the whole house’s collapse.
Causes of Slab Leaks
Slab leaks are a dominant concern in regions like California, where earthquakes are common and areas with clay soil. That’s because earthquakes cause pressure to the pipes. Clay soils shrink in dry climates and expand when the ground is wet. As a result, this causes strain to the lines, leading to leaks. Here are the most common causes of slab leaks:
- Abrasion- Pipes often vibrate due to the flow of water inside. If they are close to hard surfaces, like concrete, rebar, gravel, or another pipe, the friction makes wear off the metal pipe, forming a hole.
- Poor Installation- If the plumber installing the pipes isn’t careful enough during installation, the latter may be kinked, dented, or bent. Over time, the water pressure wears off the dented spot and may cause a pinhole leak.
- Corrosion- During installation, pipes often make a direct impact on the soil and its metal components. With time, the metal pipes do suffer galvanic corrosion due to the contact between two metals. This process eats a section of the line, creating a hole that causes the leak.
- Excessive Pressure- Pressure due to earthquake, settling, or soil shifting often cracks the pipes, leading to a leak.
Symptoms of Slab Leaks
Symptoms of slab leaks aren’t always obvious, and homeowners may sometimes confuse them to denote other problems. However, the property owners have to be very watchful of the typical red signs since if they don’t attend to them early, the damage could be irreversible. Here are some flag-raisers to look out for:
- Raised spots on the floor
The leak starts minor then develops. After some time, the water logging underneath the floor may cause some domes. This is one of the worst signs and may mean that the problem has been around for some time and requires immediate attention.
- The floor feeling warm or hot
If certain parts or an entire floor feels unusually warm, it may occur due to leaks from hot water pipes. It is easier to detect on carpeted floors or have a thin linoleum cover, especially when walking barefoot. Another indicator is if the water heater keeps running even when not in use.
- Sound of running water
Here is another reason to start worrying. If the homeowners keep hearing sounds of flowing water either on the walls or floor while no tap is running, it may be a sign of a leaking pipe. First, they can start by closing all house lines and checking for possible leaks in the other places. If there’s no sign, the water meter keeps running, and they can still hear the flow of water; it could be a slab leak.
Mildew and mold thrive well in the presence of moisture. The presence of mold under carpets or along the sides of the walls may be a sign of slab leaks.
- Abnormal water bills and excessive consumption
Rising water bills and excessive consumption are the most common indicators of leaking pipes. If the bill goes strangely beyond the normal range, owners can check for leaks around the home. If the result is negative, it points to a possible leak in the slab.
- Cracks around walls and the floor
Water damage resulting from slab leaks can often cause cracks on walls and the floor. That’s a dangerous sign and shows the damage has gone a bit far. As a result, it’s essential to take immediate action and save the home from extreme dangers.
How to tell if it’s a slab leak
Even when the signs are too obvious, it’s essential to seek help from a professional plumber since they could mean different things. These could be signs of foundation settling and other factors. As a result, it’s wise to contact a qualified technician with experience in slab leak detection and repair before taking any action.
During the diagnosis stage, it’s also not right to open the foundation until it’s inevitable that there’s a problem, the extent of the problem, and possible repair methods. Experienced plumbing companies often have the right equipment for detecting potential slab leaks. These may include draining water from all the pipes and pumping air. They then use special hearing tools to discover the location of the leak.
Similarly, there is video equipment that can detect the leak without interfering with the foundation.
Repairing Slab Leaks
The correct method to repair a slab leak depends on the severity of the damage, the pipes’ condition, and the entire plumbing system. In case the damage isn’t diverse, it a repair on the leaking spot is enough. Re-piping the whole arrangement could be the right option if there are signs of recurrent damages. To solve the problem effectively, we recommend seeking the help of a competent plumber.