What Are Slab Leaks and How Do They Happen?
Among all the plumbing problems homeowners can encounter, a slab leak is the hardest one to spot. This is because they are, by definition, located under the home’s slab foundation. For several reasons, pipes running under the home can break or develop small leaks. It could be caused by shifting ground after heavy rain, improper pipe installation, and even chemical reactions between minerals in the ground and those in the pipes or the water. Although a slab leak can lead to expensive repairs and even health issues for those living in the house, homeowners can arm themselves with knowledge of how to spot a slab leak and what to do about it.
How to Tell if There’s a Slab Leak
Since slab leaks happen under the house, they don’t often come with obvious signs. Other plumbing issues may be readily apparent within minutes, but slab leaks require a more nuanced approach by homeowners. The first thing homeowners should keep an eye on is their water bill. A high water bill but no visible leak in the house could mean something has happened to a pipe under the slab.
That said, some signs can be clear to the naked eye. Depending on the location of the slab leak, it could signal itself through wet spots or cracks in the foundation. It could also warp wood floors, damp carpet, or warm spots on the floor if a hot water line leaks. If the leak has been going on for some time, it could cause a shift in the foundation. This will often result in cracks in the foundation and the walls as the home shifts unevenly. Slab leaks can also cause the growth of mold and mildew under floorboards or carpets and elsewhere in the home.
What Are the Detrimental Effects of Slab Leaks?
The biggest concern regarding a slab leak is the structural damage it can do to the home. If the leak goes on for long enough — even if it’s a pinhole leak — it can cause the ground under the foundation to shift. This, in turn, can cause the home to settle unevenly, which could require expensive repairs to keep the damage from getting worse over time.
Slab leaks can also cause health problems from the proliferation of mold and mildew in the home. When these irritants circulate the house, those sensitive to them could have respiratory issues. Very young and older adults are more likely to be impacted by the growth of mold and mildew. However, even some healthy adults could be allergic without knowing it, causing them to suffer severe reactions.
How Can a Slab Leak Be Fixed?
Since slab leaks can be hard to locate and access, fixing them requires considerable know-how and equipment. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal DIY project; it’s something best left to professionals. Plumbers use slab leak detection equipment to locate the leak with minimally invasive techniques. They can then go about fixing the issue in one of several ways.
If the rest of the plumbing system is in good order, a spot fix will often fix the issue. This usually involves breaking through a small portion of the slab to access and fix the leak. However, if the plumbing is old or improperly installed, it could require re-piping. This involves re-routing the pipes so they no longer run under the slab. Repiping is a fix that will help ensure that no more slab leaks pop up in the future. Lastly, there is what’s called pipelining, which is a low-cost option ideal for dealing with pinhole leaks. Homeowners should consult a trained professional to determine the best option for fixing their slab leak.
About Charles Krull & Son, Inc. Plumbing & Heating
Charles Krull & Son, Inc. Plumbing & Heating has served Malverne, NY with pride for over 100 years! Since 1910, they’ve been providing top-notch service and excellent workmanship. They specialize in clear communication and offer flat-rate pricing on every job. Contact them today for slab leak detection and repair in Malverne, NY.