The 411 On Slab Leaks - A Brief Guide
Any homeowner that's experienced a slab leak at some point knows that it can be one of the most frustrating, stressful, and expensive plumbing problems ever. But for those homeowners fortunate enough to have avoided them, slab leaks can be a total mystery.
That can be a blessing, but it can also wind up being a curse - if homeowners aren't sure how to spot signs of a slab leak and don't understand the risks they pose, they won't be as well equipped to deal with them before any major damage is done. So this article will walk homeowners through everything they need to know about slab leaks, including what causes them, why they're so dangerous, and how professionals fix them!
Slab Leaks Explained
To understand slab leaks, it helps to clarify what exactly a "slab" is. In this context, a slab is a concrete foundation on which many homes are built. Generally 4-6 inches thick, this concrete slab covers the entire home footprint. In homes with slab foundations, there are typically water supply lines and sewer lines installed a few inches underneath the slab. A slab leak refers to a leak in one of those underground pipes.
Slab leaks can be caused by various factors, including corrosion, abrasion (from the surrounding soil or debris inside the pipes), soil erosion, shifting soil (due to earthquakes, flooding, foundation shifts, etc.), or pipe degradation due to old age.
Why Are Slab Leaks So Bad?
Since slab leaks are, by definition, located under a thick layer of concrete, they can often go unnoticed for months at a time. Even if the leak is a relatively minor one, this can waste hundreds of gallons of water every month. That can lead to some pretty high water bills. To make matters worse, that perpetually moist environment can lead to mold growth - if that mold spreads and gets into the home, it can have negative health consequences for everyone in the house.
In many cases, the water from a slab leak can also cause the surrounding soil to shift or become loose and muddy, which may cause the foundation to shift, sink, or even collapse. This can damage the home's framework and compromise its structural integrity. Not to mention that foundation repair and releveling can be exorbitantly expensive!
With all of these potential consequences, it's easy to see why slab leaks should be avoided or, at the very least, nipped in the bud as quickly as possible. Homeowners should always be on the lookout for these signs of a slab leak:
- High water bill (but no visible leaks)
- Walls are cracked in parts of the house
- Uneven floors
- Foundation cracks
- Warm spots on the floor (indicates a hot water line leak)
- Low water pressure in the house
- Wet areas around the house's edge (or spots where grass grows thicker)
How Do Plumbers Deal With Slab Leaks?
If homeowners suspect that they have a slab leak, the first step is to call a professional to perform slab leak detection. This typically involves using acoustic listening devices, thermal imaging, or video inspection (feeding a tiny camera into the pipes themselves) to find the exact location of the leak.
Once the leak is found, plumbers and slab leak specialists have a few options for repairing it and will work with the homeowners to determine which repair method is most appropriate for their specific situation. Depending on the extent of the damage and the homeowners' wishes, pros will either:
- Excavate the pipe by breaking through the foundation
- Seal the pipe by inserting an epoxy pipe liner into it (often called trenchless leak repair)
- Re-pipe or re-route, which involves installing a new pipe in a different location to replace the damaged one
- Tunnel under the slab to repair the affected pipe without breaking through the floors or foundation
These slab leak repair options can vary significantly in cost and duration, so hiring a reliable and trustworthy plumbing contractor who will work closely with homeowners to find the right solution for their budget is essential!
About All Pro Plumbing
Since its founding in 1996, All Pro Plumbing has become one of Lakeland, Florida's most trusted and highly-rated plumbers. Their dedication to honesty, unbeatable service, and top-rate workmanship have made them a 7-time Angi Super Service Award winner. Their trustworthy licensed experts are available for emergencies 24/7, so don't wait to call All Pro Plumbing for slab leak repair in Lakeland, FL!