As a New Orleans, LA homeowner, there are so many things to worry about in the home, from routine maintenance and repairs to natural disasters. Plumbing issues including slow or clogged drains, a malfunctioning water heater, and pipe leaks are all common and can lead to much bigger issues in the home.
One of the most serious plumbing concerns is a slab leak, which can cause extensive damage to a home and cost homeowners thousands of dollars. A slab leak is a specific type of leak that develops in the pipes running underneath the concrete foundation slab of a home. Slab leaks can actually occur in either water or sewer lines, but today the focus is on slab leaks in water pipes.
Here’s a comprehensive look at the dangers of slab leaks, how to identify a slab leak, and how to go about getting a slab leak repair if you encounter one on your property.
What Causes a Slab Leak?
Slab leaks typically occur in copper pipes and always under a home’s foundation, but there are a number of things that can cause them to happen.
- Corrosion – Since these pipes are underground, they come into contact with different types of soil and moisture. It’s only natural that they will experience some level of corrosion over an extended period of time.
- Shifts in the Ground or Foundation – Homes naturally settle and shift slightly on their foundations over time. This can put added pressure on the pipes, and too much pressure can result in a pipe leak. Similarly, the ground and home foundation can do some dramatic shifting in areas where earthquakes occur, adding stress and pressure to the plumbing system underneath the home.
- Abrasion – As water flows through pipes, they naturally expand and contract and the temperature fluctuates. As the pipes rub up against the concrete slab or other materials such as gravel, tree roots, or even other pipes, they can wear down.
Detecting a Slab Leak
Early detection is absolutely critical when it comes to slab leaks, so homeowners with concrete foundation slabs must know what warning signs to look for. Unfortunately, because these pipes are located underground, detecting a slab leak is often difficult. A slab leak often resembles other common plumbing issues, making it even more tricky to identify and diagnose.
Some common warning signs you may have a slab leak on your property include:
- Hearing unidentified running water. As water moves through the plumbing system in your home, you can hear the sound of running water. However, if you’re hearing this but there is no water on and it cannot be traced back to an appliance, you may have a leak.
- A higher-than-normal water bill. A spike in your water bill typically indicates a leak somewhere in your home, but does not automatically mean it’s a slab leak. Check pipes and faucets inside your home for visible leaks or damage. If you can’t find anything inside, the likelihood of it being a slab leak is high. Contact a professional slab leak repair plumber to be certain.
- Moisture, mildew, or hot spots on the floors. Mysterious patches of warmth or dampness on your floors could be caused by warm water leaking underneath the foundation. If you find mildew or mold under carpets, this is a sign that the foundation has become saturated and is almost a sure sign of a leak.
- Cracks in the baseboard, walls, or foundation. If the foundation has started to buckle due to a slab leak, stress cracks will appear on both the interior and exterior of your home.
Since slab leaks often go undetected for long periods of time, it’s critical to call a professional plumber like bluefrog Plumbing + Drain of New Orleans, LA for slab leak repair as soon as you suspect there is one in your home. Leaving a potential slab leak without attention or repair could lead to serious damage to your home, including mold, termites, and even foundation collapse.
How to Repair a Slab Leak
If a professional slab leak repair company in New Orleans, LA determines you do indeed have a slab leak, there are numerous methods for repairing it. Dependent upon where you live and the severity of the leak, some of the options may include:
- Fixing the pipe itself. Depending on whether the leak is on the pressure or drainage side of your home’s foundation, some demolition to the foundation may be required. The foundation may need to be cut open in order for the plumber to access sections of the pipe in order for repairs to be made. This strategy is common in newer construction homes.
- Re-piping the entire pipe. Particularly in older homes where leaks or other issues are frequent, re-piping can prevent further issues. Sections of pipe can be cut out, capped off, redirected, or an entire line may be laid down.
- Pipe coating. In instances where the pipes cannot easily be repaired or replaced with cutting into the home’s foundation, an epoxy pipe coating is applied to the interior of the pipe.
If your home has a concrete slab foundation, follow these tips to keep an eye on it and watch for red flags that may indicate a slab leak. Of course it’s ideal to not experience one or need a slab leak repair in your home, but if you do, the skilled technicians of bluefrog Plumbing + Drain of New Orleans can check it out at the first indication of trouble. Although these leaks can be difficult to locate and identify, special tools including electronic amplification equipment and electromagnetic pipeline locators can help get to the root of the problem and determine the next course of action.