What Is a Slab Leak?
The term “slab leak” is enough to strike fear into the hearts of any property owner. Slab leaks are at best a costly repair project and at worst can cause disastrous damage to your home or business’s foundation. Slab leaks occur when any part of your plumbing system begins to leak under your property's foundation.
Leaks can occur in pressurized freshwater pipes or in low-pressure sewer and drain lines. The reason slab leaks are such a big deal is because of the costs associated with repairing them. It all starts with how your home was constructed. Before your home’s foundation was poured, utilities such as gas, water, and drain lines were laid out on the building site.
After they were laid out, concrete was poured over them to make the foundation for your home. As a result, when any of these pipes begin to leak, plumbers must drill through the existing concrete to reach the leak and repair it. If leaks are not addressed they can lead to high utility costs, moisture damage, such as mold in your home, or foundation damage that could compromise the integrity of your house.
Common Slab Leaks Causes
Why build a house on a slab if it is so costly to repair utility problems under the concrete? Homes on concrete foundations are designed to not need utility repairs.
However, sometimes they happen anyway. But before clear indication starts to show, some possible causes are:
- Improper Installation: While not as prevalent with modern PEX tubing, older homes that have copper piping are susceptible to pinhole leaks under the slab. During installation, copper tubing can be bent or dimpled. Over time, the damage done can weaken the pipe wall and allow a leak.
- Incorrect Materials: Older homes were plumbed with galvanized steel pipes. The life expectancy of the steel pipe underground is estimated to be about 40 years. After 40 years, the pipes begin to succumb to corrosion and will start to leak.
- Foundation Shifts: Over time, foundations settle and can start to stress pipes that are fixed in the concrete. Earthquakes also contribute to shear forces that are put on pipes that are installed under the slab. Stressed pipes are weak pipes that are susceptible to breaking.
Signs You Have a Slab Leak
Since there isn’t much you can do to prevent slab leaks, and you have no control over the building materials used to build your house, the best action you can take is to pay attention to the signs that you may have a slab leak. These signs include:
Buckled laminate flooring.
- Moisture on exposed concrete.
- Mold growing up walls.
- Musty or sewage smells coming from the slab.
- Wet spots on your lawn.
Early detection is critical to preventing further damage from slab leaks. If caught early, you can prevent needing to replace walls and floors damaged from moisture and stop your foundation from being undermined by flowing water.
How Slab Leak Detection Is Done
If you experience any of the signs of slab leaks, it is important that you call a professional immediately. A slab leak detection specialist will come to your home and use special equipment to locate the precise location of the leak. Once located, the plumber will hammer through the concrete of your slab to reach the leaking pipe.
After making repairs, the hole will be repaired and flooring can be replaced. Repairs can be time-consuming and therefore costly, so it is especially important to call a plumber that has experience in slab leak repairs.
About Magic Plumbing
If you think you have a slab leak, call Magic Plumbing today. Magic Plumbing has been providing plumbing services in San Francisco, CA since 1980. They offer same day service for emergencies or they can help you with routine services like hot water tank installation. With years of experience, you can trust them with any plumbing problems!