Most Common Causes of Slab Leaks and 5 Options to Fix Them

What are slab leaks?

The term “slab” refers to the solid concrete foundation upon which your house is built. This piece of concrete is integrated with various lines such as water, sewage, and gas lines that are laid beneath your property, and as they become older, it is common for them to develop cracks and holes. As the pipe located below the foundation of the slab develops cracks or holes or gets damaged, the water in the pipe may begin to leak, and as a result, the water would be absorbed by the surrounding soil and the ground would look unsettled.

As the soil beneath the slab becomes unsettled and moist, the concrete slab foundation loses its grip and begins to deteriorate and develop cracks. If the leak goes unnoticed and untreated, the foundation of your property might start to move, which will cause the floors and walls of your house to crack or even collapse. Let us understand a few conditions that lead to slab leaks:

The causes of a slab leak

Earthquakes

The vibration that arises during an earthquake poses threatening stress on the pipelines that lie under your property. Not only do the tiles begin to deteriorate, but also the joints between the pipes, resulting in a slab leak. A common sign of a slab leak would be the noise of running water from under the ground. A leak from the hot water pipe can be indicated by a hot spot on the floor of your house. As the leak starts to develop and grow in size, so will the mildew on the floors, walls, or ceilings.

Extremely acidic water

The availability of the type of water depends upon your city or suburb, although if you are supplied with hard water, it is extremely acidic, with its average pH ranging between 1 and 4. The acidity of the water forces the pipelines to slowly degrade and deteriorate over time. To combat this issue, a major population of homeowners has installed a water softener to avoid the presence of minerals such as magnesium and calcium in the water. A quick way to check if the water supplied to your house is acidic is to look for blue or green stains in your bathroom or kitchen sink, shower, or toilet.

Deteriorating copper pipes

Homes that have aged over the past years are more likely to develop slab leaks, the reason being their construction included the utilization of copper pipes. Copper pipes tend to erode quickly when in contact with high levels of salts that are dissolved in the water, acidic water with a pH range below 7.0, or even water that contains high quantities of liquefied oxygen. Even with water above pH 8.5, it may also cause the pipes to corrode. When the pipes laid below the concrete foundation begin to corrode and develop cracks, a severe slab leak may begin to form.

The top five options for slab leak repair

If your house already shows signs of slab leaks, listed below is a brief list including the five most common options that can help you fix them: –

Repiping

You might have to dig a little deeper in your pockets to cover the cost of removing concrete from your foundation and replacing the damaged pipe with a new one. Hence, a faster and much cheaper way to fix a slab leak is to reroute a new pipe lying outside the concrete foundation or through the attic of your household. This option offers a slew of benefits, including avoiding the cost of removing the concrete and ruining your lovely floors, as well as providing much better access to the new pipeline being installed.

Replace the section of the pipe by drilling a hole.

If the leak is small and only a small fraction of the pipe is damaged, the easiest solution to fix this problem is to drill a hole through the concrete slab instead of removing it altogether and replace the small fraction of the damaged pipe with a new one. This option may not work well for all homeowners, as some have to drill through their tile or wooden flooring to gain access to the concrete slab.

Pipe-lining installation

This method is non-invasive and only requires you to insert a thin layer of epoxy coating on the insides of your galvanized copper or steel pipes. After the insertion, the epoxy will harden itself to cover all the holes and cracks that may have developed in your pipes over the years. It is an extremely non-invasive and cheaper method for slab leak repair.

Bursting or splitting of a pipe

Same as pipe-lining, but instead of lining the insides of the pipes with epoxy, a new pipeline with a bursting head, which means a slightly bigger diameter than the damaged pre-install pipe, is inserted over it. The damaged pipe is destroyed or retracted by pushing or pulling. This method is used to take care of badly damaged pipelines in a non-invasive manner.

Tunneling beneath the foundation of the slab

Tunneling is a great option for homeowners that do not want to ruin their expensive flooring by digging through it. Hence, the option of tunneling through the floors comes as a savior for which some plumbers do it by themselves, while some prefer engineers to dig the tunnel. The size of the tunnel stays around 3’ x 3’ for the workers to have adequate space for working efficiently. After the pipe has been replaced and tested for full functionality, the dirt extracted to construct a tunnel is shoved into the tunnel. Tunneling offers the following advantages to homeowners:

  • Homeowners can stay in their houses while the process and repairs continue.
  • It is sure to keep all the mess and dirt away from the inside of the house.
  • It does not cost much and can be one of the least expensive options for slab leak repair.
  • It is not invasive as it does not damage the expensive flooring and authenticity of the place.

Author Bio:- Karl Brown

Karl, a marketing manager at EZ Leak Detection, loves to write about plumbing and HVAC services to make the life of the reader easier. Leakages in your property can be dangerous but not all the leaks are easily accessible. He has given extensive information about water leaks and slab leaks and tips to detect them quickly along with quick solutions to prevent you from inconveniences and health hazards.

Leakage problems and malfunction of appliances demand comprehensive solutions. Also, regular maintenance is not the thing to be missed for leading a life with zero hassles. Read our recent post related to leakage detection and repair, alerts for HVAC shutdown and how to repair it, and installation of AC and water heater in San Diego.

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