Slab leaks are, thankfully, not a terribly common problem, but can be quite the costly headache when they do occur. Fixing the leak itself is not that difficult, but the problem is getting to it. Slab leaks are the result of pipes or your plumbing system below the foundation of your house leaking. Because the concrete foundation that supports your house — as well as your house — sits on top of the leak, it is incredibly difficult to reach the leak and repair it and repairs require damage to your concrete floors. Here, we will discuss some causes of slab leaks, how to identify them, and the major consequences.
Causes of Slab Leaks
Ground shifts due to events such as earthquakes or sinkholes can quickly and dramatically cause a slab leak. However, small ground shifts such as those caused by settling of a home, can cause the ground to shift enough over time that it can eventually cause a leak.
Corrosion occurs when the copper in pipes interacts with other minerals in the soil around the pipes or the water within the pipes and over time can cause erosion until a leak springs.
Inadequate or faulty pipe wrapping can cause your pipes to rub against your concrete foundation when they expand and contract. Pipe should be wrapped to protect against this, but where it is improperly done or the wrapping is faulty, it can easily cause a leak.
How to Identify a Slab Leak
Increase in your water bill may be one of the first signs. If you concrete and subfloor are not yet affected but your water bill suddenly skyrockets, especially if it is accompanied by plummeting water pressure, it could indicate a leak that you cannot see — assuming you’ve ruled out other causes!
Water spots or pooling of water on the floor are a sure sign that something is leaking and causing the water to pool. Water spots are simply puddles beneath the floor or that have already dried, they are still active symptoms of a leak that shouldn’t be ignored.
Mold is sensitive to moisture and very opportunistic. There is no good reason that your floors should have mold if they are dry, so it stands to reason that if you have mold present, you also have a moisture issue, which could be indicative of a slab leak.
Consequences of a Slab Leak
In addition to the high water bills and lowered water pressure, there are several structural damages that slab leaks are responsible for and can be quite costly to repair.
Damaged floors are usually the biggest inconvenience and expense in the repair process. Whether the floors are directly affected by the leak, such as swelling of concrete and over floors, or if the floor is damaged intentionally to get to the leak, the chances that your floors come out unscathed is minimal.
A damaged yard is another side effect of a leaking pipe underground. While many homeowners would chose a damaged yard over a damaged foundation, it can still be devastating to have all of your landscaping ruined and expensive to restore it.
Foul odors are a common complaint among those who have experienced a slab leak. If water is not completely removed and mold has the opportunity to grow, the odors will be musky, that of mold. However, if it was a sewage line that was damaged, well, you can imagine what foul odors that will leave behind.
What Can You Do About a Slab Leak?
Unfortunately, this is absolutely not a do-it-yourself task. Fixing a slab leak takes precision — to avoid creating another leak — and industrial tools to be able to get beneath your foundation while minimizing damage. Once the leak is fixed, a thorough cleaning is highly recommended to reduce moisture, mold, and odors. Once the leak is identified and repaired, the floor can be replaced. Once you identify a slab leak, it’s not something to take your time fixing, it is a plumbing emergency and requires the expertise and skill of a professional plumbing team. If you have a slab leak and need an emergency plumber in Highland Park, call us at C & C Slab Leak and Plumbing.