Many homes have slab foundations, meaning that they lie over concrete slabs. Before contractors pour the concrete slabs, they put in the plumbing and electrical wires underneath, which means it’s hard for you to see or reach either of them.
While that has many advantages, it will be hard for you to detect or fix a leak in the pipes under the concrete slabs. Slab leaks could happen because of water corrosion, friction between the pipe and the walls, shifting earth, an incorrectly built foundation, or old piping.
A slab leak is one of the most hazardous types of leaks because it is hard to detect. However, some of the signs that alert you of a slab leak include the following.
A Higher Water Bill
This is usually the first warning sign in all types of leaks in the house because the water runs 24/7. If you notice a higher water bill but do not spot any water leak in other pipes or outlets, it is probably a slab leak.
The increase in water bills depends on the size of the slab leak. Therefore, if you notice a sudden large increase, it means the leak is significant.
Decreased Water Pressure
If you notice a drop in water pressure in your faucets or shower while running only one at a time, it means there is a leak somewhere around the house. However, if you check all your pipes and taps and determine there is no visible leak, it means the leak is under your concrete slabs.
To be entirely sure, turn off all the water outlets in your home and look at your water meter. If it is still running, that means you have a slab leak.
Hot Spots on the Floor
Approximately 80% of slab leaks occur due to hot water pipes. As the hot water pools around the leak site, the heat conducts through the slabs and can reach your flooring surface. That will cause the flooring above the leak site to feel warmer than other parts of the floor.
Some flooring materials, like hardwood, laminate, and linoleum, conduct heat faster than flooring materials such as tile or carpeting. That means you are more likely to notice hot spots in areas that use heat-conducting flooring materials.
Raised, Swollen, or Cracked Foundation
Damaged flooring and foundation are among the most severe issues caused by water leaks. When there is a slab leak, the water might not have anywhere to escape, forcing it upward.
That could damage the soil structure around your foundation, which could eventually cause your flooring to start heaving or raising. Sometimes, if the leak is severe, the swollen foundation could raise entire floor sections, eventually leading to cracks.
The cracking and swelling might also spread to the exterior or interior walls close to the slab leak location. If left unattended, it could cause more severe shifts in your foundation, affecting the structural integrity of your home.
You might also notice wet spots around your flooring as the water gets to the surface. How easy you will spot it depends on the type of flooring. If you have hardwood flooring, you will notice that the wet areas will be darker than others, and they might also warp. If you have carpet flooring, look for damp and darker spots. The extent of the damage determines whether you will repair or replace the flooring material.
When the slab leak is severe, and there is a lot of water collecting around the leak spot, it will eventually need an escape route. In addition to having wet areas over your flooring, you might notice pools of water inside or outside your home close to the foundation. If there is no noticeable water source like a hose, broken pipe, water outlet, or appliances, it is most likely from a slab leak.
The Smell of Mold or Mildew
As the water gets trapped between and under your flooring, mold and mildew will start growing, which will cause a musty, unpleasant odor around the house. If the moisture seeps up to your walls, the mold and mildew will also spread on the walls.
If left unattended, the smell will not only make it uncomfortable in the house, but it might also be a health hazard for you and your family. The mold and mildew will also spread to other parts of the house and cause further damage.
The Sound of Running Water
If you hear the sound of running water in your home without any water running, it is most likely a slab leak. Turn off all the appliances, pipes, and water outlets, go to the main floor of the house, and listen to pinpoint where the sound is coming from. The loudness of the sound will determine the extent of the leak, but you should call a plumber immediately if you hear unexplained running water.
Slab Leak Repair Options
Once you notice any of these signs and expect a slab leak in your home, it’s important to reach out for professional help. You need to ensure that you work with a licensed, well-equipped, and experienced plumbing team that is skilled at detecting and repairing slab leaks.
The plumbers will use acoustic systems or ground mics to determine if it is really a slab leak and accurately pinpoint where it is. These technologies allow them to get to the location of the leak without having to tear up areas of the foundation that are unaffected.
Once they have located the leak and dug through the ground, there are different options they can use to repair the leak depending on its extent and cause. If the house is old and aging pipes caused the leak, they will have to pull out the old pipes and lay down new ones. They could also reroute the pipes, mainly above the ground, to help prevent future extensive repairs of underground plumbing.
However, if your pipes are in good condition and a minor hole or damage caused the leak, the plumber can use epoxy to seal the leak or replace the line section that is damaged. The repair costs depend on the extent of the damage.
If you have homeowner’s insurance, it will typically help cover part or all of the costs to repair the leak. Before contacting plumbing professionals, be sure to reach out to your insurance company to discuss available repair options. You might also need to have a professional quote for the insurance to approve the services.
Slab Leak Detection Services in Tucson
For high-quality slab leak services in Tucson, AZ, Rite Way Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing is the company to call. We are a certified company with dedicated employees. We have extensive experience in different types and sizes of slab leaks, enabling us to fix and prevent future leaks. You can also trust us for heating and air conditioning services, water and air quality solutions, duct repair, and energy audits. To learn more about slab leak repair options or to schedule your appointment, contact Rite Way Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing today.