As a homeowner, you know how much time and effort goes into routine maintenance. Its imperative to keep an eye on just about everything, from the condition of your HVAC system to your yard work to any possible pests in your attic and basement.
One problem you may not be prepared for – or even aware of – is slab leaks. Though a common problem, many people don’t know anything about slab leaks or what to do about them.
A slab leak happens in a concrete slab foundation, which is found in many homes in the US. These foundations are installed with pipes and lines in them, saving money but leaving them susceptible to water damage from leaks.
Though they start small, slab leaks can become unmanageable quickly and could result in major repairs for your home. Find out what to look for with slab leak detection and how to go about getting a slab leak repair.
What is a Slab Leak?
A concrete slab foundation is installed by pouring concrete into a slab on the ground with the plumbing sealed inside. This is a great way for homeowners to save money on their build, but the downside is the possible slab leak.
Even with the best maintenance, pipes will have wear and tear over time. They experience friction in the foundation, pressurized water flows through them constantly, and because they’re often made of metal, they experience corrosion or degradation.
Slow leaks aren’t always a disaster, but if they’re left, they can turn into big and expensive issues. Be sure to contact a professional plumber if you notice any signs of a slab leak.
Signs You Have a Slab Leak:
Now that you know what slab leaks are, it’s important to know how to monitor them.
Some common symptoms of a slab leak may include:
- Uneven or patchy lawn
- Shifting soil or erosion
- A hissing, whistling, or running water sound without a tap on
- Cracks and splits in the foundation
- Mold growth or damp areas on the floors or walls
- Odors from the floors and walls
- Warm areas of the floor
Why Do Slab Leaks Happen?
Slab leaks have numerous causes, including:
Construction that’s either poorly done or completed with low-quality materials can contribute to slab leaks. Any pipe that’s already worn or damaged can be more vulnerable to leaks or cracks. Furthermore, pipes that have been damaged, such as pipes with a bend or kink, offer areas for water to break out.
These pipes aren’t likely to be a problem initially, but they can become one fast. Pipes are subject to a lot of wear and tear from rushing water, and that pressure can weaken the pipes and offer opportunities for leaks.
Soil erosion and shifting are common in homes. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes or other storms, can lead to soil shifts that may damage the pipes in the foundation. The vibrations from an earthquake can also disconnect pipes, even if they’re strong.
Worse yet, once a leak happens, the water that ends up in the soil and surrounding area only makes the shifting, erosion, or expansion worse. The pressure continues to grow, eventually busting through a weak spot in the foundation.
Poor Water Quality
Hard water is a big cause of plumbing issues and slab leaks. Often found in city environments, hard water has an excess of certain minerals that cause limescale buildup. This not only damages your clothing, hair, and skin, but it wreaks havoc on your pipes and causes leaks.
The other direction – a water softener – isn’t necessarily better. While it will address some of the concerns with the minerals in hard water, taking all those minerals out creates a new set of problems. Water often leaches minerals from the surfaces it touches, which includes pipes.
When pipes are installed in the foundation, they’re often close to other pipes, tree roots, rocks, and the abrasive foundation. Over time, the friction builds, allowing weak points to develop in the pipe and let water through.
Hot water is far more susceptible to this than cold, thanks to the expansion and contraction of the pipe. This causes pipes to wear against other surfaces even more, shortening their lifespan.
No matter how new and attractive something is at first, wear and tear is part of home ownership. Everything from the siding to the appliances to the windows will need to be replaced eventually, and it’s always best to do it when the problem first arises.
Basically, slab leaks are caused by time more than anything else. Even with other causes, pipes are damaged by the passage of time and may create leaks that cause further damage. This is more of an issue in older homes with antiquated materials like galvanized steel or copper pipes, but any home can fall victim to damage and leaks.
Slab leaks aren’t a problem to tackle on your own, however. If you suspect a slab leak, this is a serious issue that needs to be handled by a professional, especially with so much at stake with your foundation and yard.
Need slap leak repair? Contact the pros at Service Champions!