What Is a Slab Leak and How Do I Repair It?
A slab leak is a plumbing leak that forms under homes with concrete foundations. Slab leaks tend to be a common problem in Florida because most of the houses in the state are built on concrete foundations to suit the climate and soil.
Slab leaks tend to be troublesome because water leaking into your home can severely damage its foundation and lead to indoor flooding if not addressed correctly and in a timely fashion.
If you think you have a slab leak, you’ll need to contact a plumber right away to diagnose the leak and repair it for you to avoid the costly problems we mentioned above.
We know you probably have more questions about slab leaks so, in this article, we’ll answer the following questions:
Let’s start by looking at what issues can cause slab leaks in the first place.
What causes a slab leak?
Several issues can cause slab leaks to form in your home’s plumbing. The most common culprits include:
- Pressure on the pipes: Extra pressure caused by shifting soil, poor construction or general erosion can cause underground pipes to break and leak water.
- Corroded metal pipes: Old metal pipes, especially those made of galvanized steel or cast iron, are prone to internal corrosion. Over time, the inner lining of the pipe can slowly erode to the point where it forms a leak.
- Incorrectly installed pipes: Pipes installed too closely to concrete, other pipes or gravel surfaces can quickly form leaks. These pipes are prone to leakage because the water flowing through the pipes creates vibrations. The vibrations, combined with the friction caused by the pipes rubbing against other surfaces, can form a leak.
Now that you know what problems can cause a slab leak, here’s how to determine if you have one.
Signs that you may have a slab leak:
The following signs can point to evidence of a slab leak:
- Unexplained spikes in your water bill
- Damp carpets or warped hard-wood floors
- Mold growth on carpets or walls (you may notice the musty smell before you see the mold)
- A decrease in water pressure
- Your water heater is running nonstop
- Pools of stagnant water around the perimeter of your house
If you notice any of the signs listed above, you’ll want to contact a professional plumber ASAP to inspect your home for a slab leak and help you prevent potential water damage.
How will a professional plumber repair a slab leak?
When you hire a plumber, the first thing they’ll do is inspect your pipes to find the source of the leak. This service is called “leak detection.”
Luckily, in most cases, the plumber can locate the leak using a non-invasive leak detection method. These methods include:
- Hydrostatic water testing
- Acoustic slab leak listening devices
- Infrared cameras
- Smoke/tracer gas testing
Once the plumber confirms you have a slab leak and finds its exact location with an inspection device, they’ll recommend pipe repair options.
The most common slab leak repair options include:
- Pipe rerouting: Instead of repairing the leaky pipe directly, the plumber may simply reroute the flow of water to a new pipe located above ground. This repair method eliminates the need to excavate, which cuts down on restoration and repair costs.
- Trenchless pipe lining or bursting: Another non-intrusive repair option is trenchless pipe lining. The plumber will line the leaky pipe’s insides with epoxy resin. Once the epoxy coating hardens, it essentially creates a brand new pipe. If the leaks are widespread, the plumber may recommend pipe bursting, a process where a new pipe with a bursting head is dragged through the old pipe. The new pipe will break the old pipe apart and take its place.
- Replacing the pipe directly: In some cases, the plumber may need to access the pipe to repair or replace it directly. Accessing the leaky pipe could involve breaking through the slab or tunneling beneath it. Typically, this method will be more expensive than pipe rerouting or trenchless repiping because it requires more labor and extra restoration costs.
The plumber you consult with will recommend the best option for pipe repair based on the location of the slab leak and the extent of pipe damage. In some situations, the plumber may recommend repiping your entire home if they suspect your old pipes are at risk of forming additional slab leaks.
Since repairing a slab leak can be costly, check with your home insurance provider to see if they can cover any part of the repair.
Want a reliable Florida plumber to help you find and repair your slab leak?
You can count on Climate Design's experienced plumbers to properly locate and repair a slab leak in your home. We'll provide you with appropriate repair recommendations and an upfront estimate for the work, based on our findings. And, when you work with Climate Design, you'll always receive five star customer service during every step of the job.