For most homeowners, including those in the Phoenix area, a leak is the last thing they’d want to deal with at home. There are several reasons for this. One is that leaks are often hard to detect. Another is that a leak, however small, can do severe damage to a home, requiring costly repairs. Of all the types of leaks that a home might suffer, however, one gives most owners nightmares—a slab leak. Slab leaks are a specific kind of water leak that can damage a house severely. Here’s an overview of what they are, why they happen, and what you can do about a slab leak if you have to deal with this issue.
What Is a Slab Leak?
Depending on how builders originally constructed your home, it may sit atop a concrete foundation. A slab is another word for such foundations. Your home’s slab is there to provide a solid surface to support the weight of your home without the need to drive piers into the ground or construct a basement. In warmer climates like the one in Phoenix, slab foundations are an attractive option when building a house because they’re cheaper than alternative foundations. They are a viable option for homes in mild climates because you don’t have to worry about them cracking due to the ground freezing and thawing over time.
One of the significant downsides to a slab foundation, however, is that it means you have to run all necessary plumbing to the home underneath the slab, including freshwater and sewer lines. The plumbing is buried in gravel or sand before the construction company pours the concrete. Once the workers install the pipes, there isn’t any easy way to reach them again. A slab leak occurs when one of the pipes beneath your home’s slab becomes damaged. Needless to say, it’s a serious situation that can do tremendous damage to your home.
What Causes a Slab Leak?
Slab leaks can happen for a variety of reasons. The most obvious one is the age of your home’s plumbing. Depending on the construction materials used to build your home, the plumbing under your slab might last between 70 and 80 years. If your home is older, simple deterioration of the pipes can lead to a slab leak.
Simple age-related deterioration isn’t the most common cause of slab leaks, though. The most common reason for slab leaks is that the soil beneath your home shifts over time and causes damage to pipes. Unfortunately, this can become a problem that you need to address quickly because as water runs under your house, it erodes the soil. This erosion removes support for the slab and puts more pressure on the pipes. It also will cause cracks in the concrete, giving the leaking water access points to your home.
How To Detect a Slab Leak
Slab leaks aren’t always easy to detect. Often, a slab leak goes unnoticed until it significantly damages a home. There are some common symptoms, however, that you can watch out for to alert you to the presence of a slab leak. Some are subtle, but if you notice them in time to call a plumber to fix the problem, you could save yourself a lot of money and headaches. Common signs of a slab leak include:
- Suddenly rising water bills
- Unusually low water pressure in your home
- Odd odors from floors and walls
- Damp floors
- Unusually warm spots on your floor
- Small, noticeable cracks in your home’s foundation
- Water running sounds when you’re not using any
- Water meter running when you’re not using any
- Excessive weed growth near foundation edges
If you notice any of the symptoms above and can’t find any other obvious explanations, your home might have a slab leak. Fortunately, plumbers don’t have to rely on simple observations to diagnose and locate the source of a slab leak.
How a Plumber Diagnoses a Slab Leak
When you call for a visit from one of the expert plumbers at Wyman Plumbing & Mechanical, they’ll arrive with special tools to check for a slab leak. Depending on the signs you’re reporting, they may drain your home’s plumbing system and then use compressed air to check for a leak under your slab.
Alternatively, they may use sound detection equipment or a thermal imager to hone in on the source of your home’s leak. This will help the plumber to determine what type of pipe is causing your problem and how best to fix it. And the best news is that the sooner you investigate a potential slab leak, the less damage it will have the chance to do to your home.
How Slab Leaks Get Fixed
Depending on the nature of your home’s slab leak, our plumbers can employ various techniques to fix it. If your slab leak is the result of a small hole in a copper supply line or a sewer pipe, it could be possible to seal the leak via relining. Relining involves threading an epoxy sleeve through the damaged section of pipe that will harden and serve as an internal protective barrier, stopping the leak.
If your slab leak is too severe for relining but localized, it’s sometimes easiest to break through the slab at that spot and replace the damaged pipe section. It’s an approach called spot repair. If your slab leak has already done damage to the inside of your home, such as causing wood flooring to warp or a carpet to sustain water damage, a spot repair could be a good choice. Since you’d need to perform restorative work inside your home after the repair anyway, there’s less impact when breaking into the slab to solve the problem.
However, if your slab leak is the result of something more severe, like a fractured section of pipe, you may need to take more drastic action. In those cases, the best course of action may be re-piping or re-routing. This method involves installing new plumbing either beside your home’s slab or if there is enough room next to the existing pipe.
Your Slab Leak Detection and Repair Team
Any way you look at it, a slab leak is no laughing matter. However, when you have Wyman Plumbing & Mechanical on your side, you can rest easy that we’ll do everything in our power to help. We offer complete slab leak services, including detection and working with you to find a solution that works for your situation.
Plus, we can also handle all of your other residential plumbing needs, from simple plumbing repairs to water heater installation and water treatment. And since we’re a licensed, bonded, and insured plumbing company, you’ll never have to worry about protecting your home’s value when you call us for help. We even offer complimentary phone quotes so you can figure out the cost of your next plumbing project without making any commitments.
For slab leak detection and repair or any other plumbing needs for your Phoenix home, call Wyman Plumbing & Mechanical today!