Waking up to a slab leak in your home is troubling and frustrating. Facing any water leak on your home turf can be costly and unexpected. It’s important to tackle the slab leak at its first sign. Quickly moving forward with clean up and renovation is the best way to prevent further damage to your flooring, carpeting, walls, and furnishings.
What is a Slab Leak?
Also know as foundation leaks and concrete slab leaks, slab leaks are pinhole leaks within the copper water lines in the concrete flooring of a home’s foundation. Most often in Florida, they occur where poly butylenes piping was used to plumb the home. Unfortunately, for most homes, it’s only a matter of time before water lines leak or break. As a homeowner, it’s important to do what you can to prevent slab and water leaks from happening. Homeowners can be on the lookout for conditions that lead to slab leaks, such as pipes in poor condition and tree roots. As a homeowner, it’s also important to educate yourself on symptoms of slab leaks. Common symptoms include:
- Unexplained increased water bill
- Wet planters adjacent to the home
- Wet base boards
- Sound of running water
- Sudden drop in hot water temperature and hot water heater running all the time
- Increased humidity in home
- Warm/cold spots on the floor, due to warm/cold water leaking within the slab
- Wet wood flooring or damp carpeting
- Cracks in baseboards, wall, flooring, and tiles
- Bubbles in linoleum or laminate flooring
- The water heater platform is dry, yet water is coming out below it
Since a slab leak is a water leak below your home’s flooring, it can be difficult to locate and diagnose. The first 24-48 hours is crucial to protecting your home from continued water damage and future mold damage. That’s exactly why it’s important to act fast. If you aren’t completely confident in being able to locate, repair, and renovate within your home, consider contacting a professional leak detection and repair specialist.
Why Do I Have a Slab Leak?
Primarily, a slab leak is caused by a reaction within pipes below a home’s flooring. Often in Florida, they initiate from poly butylene piping and electrolysis involving copper and granite. Other causes include pipe contact with concrete, too much soldering flux, non-reamed pipes, or rebar and rocks. However, these secondary causes occur in a very low percentage of slab leaks.
Additional conditions and events that are likely to cause slab leaks include:
- Poorly assembled pipes and fittings
- Pipe rust
- Ground movement from contracting or expanding
- High-grade pipe cleaners that can eat through pipes
- Sewer leaks
Typically, slab leaks are discovered by the surfacing of water into the home or outside the home on the perimeter of the foundation. However, weeks or even months can pass before a slab leak is diagnosed for some homes. Sometimes the only sign is an unusual jump in your water bill. Depending on the water company, they may contact you to report the high usage. Don’t rely on your water company to report the issue to you. Be sure to pay attention to your water bill and be sure it lines up previous water usage.
It’s important to catch the leak early on to prevent additional damage to your property and furnishings. At first sign of unexplained water use, wet areas of your floor, and sudden cracks or bubbling in your property, contact a leak detection specialist to investigate for a water leak.
How Can I Find the Water Leak?
If you think you might have a slab leak, try shutting off all water use for your home. Immediately read your water meter and record the time and usage. Return to your water meter in an hour. If there is a difference in the numbers after one hour, you may have a slab leak. Leaking from toilets, faucets, and sprinklers can also be a reason to difference in numbers.
How Are Slab Leaks Repaired?
Your best method of defense in diagnosing your slab leak is contacting a plumber or professional leak detection specialist. Expert technicians have electronic tracing and listening equipment to assist them with locating the leak. Here is a brief outline of slab leak repair steps:
- Identifying the leak location. The first step to repair a slab leak is fully diagnosing the water leak by identifying all the areas affected by the leak. Along with surveying the property and viewing the water meter, professionals utilize listening equipment, cameras, and electronic tracing equipment to identify the leak.
- Removing the flooring and assessing damage. To access the leak, plumbers need access to the home’s foundation. Whether carpet, tile, wood, or laminate, the flooring needs to be removed for the next step in repair. Remove as little flooring as possible to prevent additional damage. However, be aware if flooring cannot be fully dried out within 24-48 hours it will need to be removed to prevent mold growth.
- Drilling into the foundation. The plumber or leak specialist will need to access the pipe within your home’s foundation. The specialist will need to drill through the concrete foundation, which is about 4 inches thick, and make a hole big enough to locate and repair the pipe.
- Replacing the pipe. Once the home’s water is shut off, the next step in the repair is cutting off the area of the pipe that is leaking and replacing it. Copper pipes need to be welded into place. The expert may want to leave the hole open for 24 hours after the repair to be sure the leak is fully repaired.
- Repair the foundation. Next, concrete will be filled in the hole and sealed with the surrounding slab. The recently repaired foundation should be left uncovered for a several days to dry.
- Repair flooring and surrounding furnishings. Now that the leak and foundation have been fully repaired, it’s your responsibility to repair your flooring, walls, baseboards, and surrounding furniture.
- Most slab leak repairs occur over a several days. However, hiring professionals who can locate the leak, repair your foundation, and restore your furnishings can decrease stress throughout the process.
Why Should I Hire a Professional?
Assessing damage, implementing a repair plan, and restoring furnishings caused by a slab leak can be complicated and time consuming. The best time to contact a professional to handle your water leak is as soon as possible. Contact a specialist at the first sign of your water leak, to minimize cost and damage, including the potential for mold damage.
Accutech specializes in leak detection and leak location, two key aspects of slab leak repair. After the leak is found and repairs have been made, the next step is recovering your flooring, walls and furnishings. We understand dealing with slab leak repair can disrupt your everyday life. The Accutech staff is dedicated to handling your water leak in a timely manner to get your life back to normal as soon as possible!
Beyond slab leak repair and restoration, Accutech is prepared to handle home recovery from a natural disaster, smoke and fire damage, broken water heaters, roof repair, hardwood floor restoration, wet drywall repair, and mold prevention. Contact us today if a water leak has damaged your property. Our passion is restoring your home to its original, beautiful condition!