Slab leaks are leaks in water pipes that occur in the walls or foundations of homes and buildings. The pipes develop holes and water leaks into the slab underneath the home or under floors. Most homes in Katy, TX, are built over clay soil. Clay soil can shift and put pressure on the home’s foundation and pipes underneath the house. Homes that sit on floating concrete slabs over clay are usually completely supported by the slab. A water leak that compromises the integrity of the concrete puts the entire house at risk.
Older homes and pipes are at a higher risk of developing slab leaks. Concrete expands and contracts slightly as the seasons change. The small changes in moisture and temperature throughout different seasons can eventually build up into large cracks that damage pipes. Slab leaks must be repaired quickly because they have the potential to cause major damage to homes and belongings. Clothing, electronics, and any other possessions stored in closets may become the first casualties of leaks within a home’s walls.
Homes develop two main types of slab leaks known as potable water leaks and sewer or drain leaks. Sewer leaks generally exist longer without being detected and eventually cause severe damage. Contact professional as soon as possible for potable water or sewer leaks. Even small leaks have the potential cause damage that requires expensive repairs.
Several things can alert homeowners to slab leaks before major damage occurs. High water bills with no corresponding increase in water use may indicate a slab leak. Sometimes the sound of running water in the walls continues after the water is turned off. Hissing and splashing sounds inside the walls indicate a leaky pipe. An unexplained drop in water pressure may also indicated leaky pipes.
Some water meters have built-in leak detectors. Property owners should consider calling a plumber immediately when a meter indicates a leak. Professionals can identify leaks faster than most home owners, and plumbers are much less likely to miss a small leak than someone without any training.
A leak in hot water pipes can cause unexplained warm or wet spots on floors. Discolored floor tiles or depressions in floors occur when a slab leak has been active for weeks or months. Slanted doorways and windows or doors that stick instead of opening or closing smoothly may indicate the home’s foundation has shifted. Foundations shift for many reasons, but slab leaks are a common cause.
Carpets that are noticeably moist may become infested with mildew or mold. A musty odor is a common sign of mold, which is also a health risk. Watch for unexplained puddles of water near exterior walls, and investigate when family pets suddenly stop sleeping in familiar places. Cracks in a home’s floor or walls occur when slab leaks are releasing large amounts of water or a leak has gone unaddressed for extended periods of time. Homes may become unsafe if slab leaks shift the foundation or cause extensive cracks in the home’s structure.
Damage to the foundation and structure can reach a point of no return and the house must be demolished if slab leaks are allowed to progress too far. Call a plumber in Katy, TX, immediately for suspected slab leaks. Plumbers can also complete an inspection in the house to evaluate pipes and detect leaks when there are no major signs. These inspections can save a lot of money in the long run by detecting small problems before they become obvious.
Preventing Slab Leaks
Sometimes slab leaks are unavoidable if they are caused by a natural disaster, but preventative measures minimize slab leaks from other causes. Make sure the pipelines in your home can handle high water pressure. Narrow pipes may not handle constant high pressure well and eventually develop weak spots and leaks.
Call professional plumbers to test pH in your home’s water. Water that is too acidic or too basic may corrode pipelines and gradually cause leaks. Sometimes acidic or basic pH is referred to as ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ water.
Be very careful with chemicals. Toilet bowl cleaners and liquids meant to dissolve clots in pipes are made with harsh chemicals. The chemicals are generally bad for the environment and corrode a home’s pipelines too. Pipes can also corrode from the outside. Chemicals in soil and clay can damage pipes, especially pipes made from outdated materials. Clay soil is also susceptible to water erosion. Gutters on the house and proper drainage can help homeowners prevent concrete erosion in a home’s foundation and minimize the chances of a slab leak.
Tree roots are another common cause of slab leak. Homes in Katy, TX, with large trees nearby are at increased risk of damage from tree roots. Plumbers can inspect the property and determine if tree roots present a problem or interfere with pipes or the home’s foundation. Homeowners may need to call landscapers or arborists to address problems with tree roots.
Repairing Slab Leaks
Plumbers detect leaks in water or sewage lines with equipment that pumps air into pipes. The plumber listens for escaping air to determine where the leak is. Sometimes plumbers have to rip up concrete to reach slab leaks. Cover furniture or move delicate items out of the area before repairs start. Homeowners insurance might cover the cost of repairs in some cases.
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Katy, TX, use a variety of methods to repair slab leaks. Sometimes the only option is creating an opening in the slab itself for a full slab leak repair. This method is very invasive, but early detection provides the best chance of avoiding a full slab repair. Spot repairs or replacement of defective lines are less expensive and less invasive than full slab repairs. Replacing the defective line is a long-term solution and more likely to be a permanent fix than spot repairs.