The word “leak” is enough to drive fear into the minds of homeowners everywhere. Couple that word with the words “underground” and “foundation” and you have a truly chill-inducing scenario. Slab leaks, so named because they occur within your home’s slab, can have some pretty dire consequences if they are allowed to persist for long. While there isn’t much you can do to prevent one, you can prepare yourself with knowledge of what they are, what to look for, and what action to take to protect your home if it ever happens to you.
What is a Slab Leak?
Here in Southern California, homes are built on concrete foundations, or slabs. Housed within these slabs are many of the plumbing lines that supply water to your home. A slab leak is when one of these water lines suffers damage of some kind and begins to leak. Because the leak is underground and the pipes are not readily accessible, slab leak repairs need to be fixed by a licensed plumber.
Slab leaks can be caused by:
- Improper installation of water lines during construction
- Shifting soil caused by moisture- and temperature-related expansion and contraction
- Deterioration of subpar plumbing materials (common for older homes with galvanized or cast iron pipes)
- Outside pressures from soil erosion, earthquakes, or an underground stream
- Pipe corrosion due to excessively acidic (“hard”) water
- Abrasion against surrounding gravel, concrete, or other nearby pipes
Are Slab Leaks Serious?
Slab leaks are one of the most pressing and potentially disruptive plumbing complications you can have as a homeowner, so they should be treated with urgency. That doesn’t mean you need to panic, though. Slab leaks are completely fixable, but you do need to make sure you call a plumber at the first sign of a problem. Left unaddressed for too long, slab leaks have the potential to cause serious water damage to your foundation and the structure of your home. They may also contribute to the development of a mold problem that could put you and your family at risk.
How Can I Tell if I Have a Slab Leak?
Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult to tell whether you may have a slab leak. Be on the lookout for these signs and call a plumber without delay:
- Your water bill has spiked without an apparent cause. If you’re not using any more water than you usually do but your bill has skyrocketed, that’s an indication that you have a leak somewhere.
- You have noticed pooling water near your foundation. If you see a puddle where there shouldn’t be any water, particularly if that puddle is right next to your foundation, call a plumber ASAP.
- You hear trickling water. When your taps and appliances are off, you should not hear any sounds of running water!
- You have noticed damp, warm, or buckling flooring. Wet hardwood flooring or carpeting is never a good sign and is a surefire indication that you have an underground plumbing leak.
- There’s a musty, mildew-like odor in your home. Mold and mildew thrive in moist environments, so if you smell something musty, it’s a good idea to start checking for leaks.
How Are Leaks in Concrete Slabs Fixed?
There are a few different methods for repairing slab leaks that plumbers use. After pinpointing the exact location of the leak using advanced leak detection technology, your plumber will determine the best course of action for accessing the area and fixing the problem.
Depending on the location and severity of the leak, your plumber may:
- Break through the slab with a jackhammer
- Tunnel beneath the slab until the damaged area is reached
- Re-route the line through the attic
Depending on the situation, trenchless pipe lining and pipe bursting methods may also be viable options in lieu of excavation. Your plumber will provide his or her expert opinion on which option will work best for your leak in terms of cost-effectiveness and level of invasiveness.
What to Do if You Suspect a Slab Leak
We cannot stress this enough: if you think you might have a slab leak, don’t ignore it. The longer you wait, the worse the problem is going to get, and the more it will cost to fix. If you’re in the San Bernardino County area and are looking for a licensed and insured plumber to check out a potential leak, we invite you to contact All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical.
For an honest and professional quote for slab leak repair, call (909) 253-0664 now.