You may be confused by the term slab leak. In construction terminology, a slab is the large concrete floor in your home. The slab, itself, is not leaking; a water pipe beneath the slab is leaking. This seepage of water is what the construction and insurance industries call a slab leak. It is important to identify any leaks and complete a slab leak repair before it causes severe damage to your home.
How To Recognize a Slab Leak:
- Are there cracks in the flooring or walls?
- Do you still hear the sound of running water, even after you have checked to make sure all faucets and other water outlets are turned off?
- Do your carpets feel wet? Is there mildew, mold, or an unpleasant smell?
- Have your water bills suddenly increased? This could mean a leak under a slab, or in the wall. Either location demands immediate attention.
- Is there an unusual warm or hot spot on the floor? This could indicate a leak in your hot water line.
Once you have identified the signs of a slab leak, a licensed plumber should be called. Slab leaks can be costly when done correctly, but if done incorrectly can skyrocket in price and compromise other areas of your home. Once your plumber has arrived, they will take the following course of action to find the leak and make repairs.
How To Pinpoint the Leak’s Location:
- The first step is typically a visual inspection:
- Look for signs of water under carpeting, beneath cabinets and along baseboards.
- Look for cracks or buckling in walls or floors.
- Inspect for any hot or warm spots on the floor.
- Watch your water meter for movement when faucets are turned off. Write down the meter reading, then return an hour later and re-check the reading. If there has been significant water usage during this time, you may have a leak.
- Conduct a pressure test on the entire water system.
- Utilize electronic amplification equipment to conduct what is called an acoustic survey. This equipment is calibrated to hear the sounds of a leak, and by “listening” at each faucet it is possible to start pinpointing the leak
- Electromagnetic pipeline locators generate a specific signal to trace copper piping and provide a spot to begin slab leak repair.
The Slab Leak Repair Process:
- Apply an epoxy coating to the inside of the pipes. This works will for pipes that have a series of small leaks and is the least disruptive method of slab leak repair. Only two points of access are required; one on each side of the leak.
- Remove a portion of the slab at the location of the leak and repair the pipe. This spot repair is often the most effective method to use for newer homes.
- Replacing, re-piping or rerouting the entire line is another method for slab leak repair. For older plumbing systems or those with a persistent leaks, this is often the best solution and the one insurance companies seem to favor.
- Another method of slab leak repair is to break out the entire slab and replace the pipes. This requires the jack hammering and removal of the concrete floor. This is typically used as a last resort for slab leak repair, because it is very disruptive, expensive, messy – and noisy!
Also referred to as foundation leaks and concrete slab leaks, any water leak below your flooring can result in serious damage. A slab leak can cause your home’s foundation to move, heave or crack. It can ruin carpet and furniture, entice the growth of mold and mildew and substantially increase your water bills. It is important to identify, locate and complete slab leak repair before it can cause serious damage – and when detected early, you may be able to avoid the cost and inconvenience of having the entire concrete slab broken out.