What is a Slab Leak Repair?
A slab leak is a serious issue that can create devastation in and around your home if not addressed soon enough. Besides forming leaks in your pipes, wasting water, and affecting your home’s foundation, a slab leak can also ruin flooring, destroy landscaping, and perpetuate mold growth around your home.
Slab leaks are a result of pipe damage underneath your home’s foundation. This piping can become damaged from normal wear and tear, chemical erosion, earthquakes, or expansive soil. In Arkansas, clay-based soils are the biggest culprit for causing soil-related slab leaks. Large-scale earthquakes can occur near fault lines in Arkansas, and dozens of smaller earthquakes can inflict damage to your pipes and slab over time.
What are the signs of a slab leak?
A slab leak can go undetected for years, as these leaks are often small and inconspicuous. Occasionally, a sudden burst will create noticeable damage, but it is important to keep an eye out for more subtle signs as well so you can address the issue before it grows into a nightmare of a task.
Watch out for:
- High water bills with no increase in use.
- Damp or warm spots in flooring.
- Swelling or raised flooring.
- Cracked foundation.
- Uneven landscape growth.
- Soil shifting away from the foundation.
- Sounds of running water when taps are off.
- Musty smells around the home.
When one or more of these issues are present, it is imperative to call a professional plumber near me for immediate inspection. The sooner you complete repair on your slab, the better chance you have at minimizing the damage.
How to Fix a Slab Leak
Slab leak repair is not always a simple process and can be quite invasive depending on the damage and location of the leak. A professional plumber will use specialized detection equipment and cameras to determine the leak’s location.
Sometimes a small section of damaged piping can be repaired or replaced. For older homes with outdated piping materials or a system that is in poor condition, re-piping may be the best long-term repair solution.
If the damaged section of piping is easily accessible, a qualified technician can dig to the spot and directly repair or replace the pipe. In some cases, they may also reroute the pipe if the damaged section is short enough to work around. When rerouting the piping, the plumber may be able to install the pipes around the slab instead of underneath to help prevent future issues.
If the damaged piping is encased in the concrete of the slab, or otherwise too difficult to reach, a complete repipe job may be necessary. In older homes with galvanized steel or cast-iron piping, this solution may be preferred anyway to prevent future corrosion issues and leaks.
Breaking Through the Slab
The most disruptive option to fixing a slab leak is to jackhammer directly through the slab. Not only does this create a mess, damage existing flooring, and cost more money, but you may have to find another place to live for a few days to weeks until the repair is completed. If every other option has been exhausted and you are stuck with this last resort, then it may be the only chance you have at saving your home from inevitable destruction.
Digging a tunnel underneath the slab is an alternative option to drilling directly into it. Maintaining structural integrity of the home is essential during this process, so it is important to use a certified expert to complete the work. Correctly replacing the soil afterward is just as important as the removal technique. Poorly placed soil can lead to expanding issues, shifts, and further damage to piping.
5 Prevention Methods To Avoid Costly Slab Leaks
Depending on where you live, a slab leak may be inevitable. However, there are ways to help prevent extensive damage and catch a slab leak before it creates irreversible damage to your home and belongings.
- Avoid dumping harsh material down the drains.
Fats and oils will clog drains and lead to pipe damage, and commercial drain cleaners may corrode pipes. Hard materials such as bone or fruit pits should never be disposed of down a drain as they can cause damage and won’t easily break down in your system.
- Measure your water’s pH.
Water with too acidic of a pH can corrode piping. Consider a water softener if your water is imbalanced.
- Measure your water pressure.
High water pressure can also cause damage to piping. The average psi for residential water should be between 40 and 60. Too low of water pressure could be an indicator that there is a leak somewhere in your system, including under the slab.
- Keep soil moist around the foundation.
Prevent expansive soil issues by keeping the soil moist all year round. Gaps between the soil and your home’s foundation mean the soil is too dry.
- Schedule annual plumbing inspections.
An annual plumbing inspection is a good idea for any home, but it is essential for homes built in earthquake zones and regions with high levels of expansive soil. An inspection can help you catch a slab leak early.