What Damage Can a Slab Leak Cause?

slab leak

How serious is a slab leak?

Every homeowner’s goal is to keep their home in good condition and keep the utility bills low. So when the water bill begins to creep up more than normal each month, you may realize there is a water leak somewhere, but you’re not able to find anything obvious. You call the water company and request a meter check, and that turns out okay. Unfortunately, at this point you need to consider it may be a slab leak

For the most part, Texas homes are built on a concrete slab foundation with the plumbing running underneath. A slab leak occurs when one of those pipes breaks or cracks, and water begins leaking under the foundation, causing it to crack. 

This can create several concerns if the slab leak isn’t detected and repaired, starting with the structural integrity of the house. Because a concrete slab is vulnerable to water, it will begin to buckle, crack, shift, and sink. This can cause more water pipes to break and leak, as well as create health issues the occupants. 

What kind of health issues? When a slab leak is undetected or unrepaired, mildew and mold form from the leaking water. Everyone in the house is then breathing in that mildew and mold, and that can lead to respiratory issues, or for anyone with respiratory issues already, it can make it worse, possibly leading to more doctor appointments or hospital stays. 

Is slab leak an emergency?

At first no, a slab leak isn’t an emergency, but it can create an emergency, and that is usually when you realize you have a slab leak. That is also when you need to take action immediately and call a professional plumber.

How do plumbers detect slab leaks?

Slab leak detection isn’t always an obvious issue, it can be a complex process when the plumbing is under the home’s foundation, with concrete all around. 

  • The first step a plumber does is verify there is a leak by turning off  the main water source to the house and checking the meter. If the meter is moving, there is definitely a leak. 
  • With a leak verified, if it isn’t apparent, like water flowing from under the house, then the plumber inspects the different individual sections of the plumbing. It is helpful if the homeowner has the blueprints to the house, but if not, an experienced plumber will know the typical places where plumbing is located. 
  • Next, the plumber will use the technology available today, leak detection equipment. This includes acoustic disc and ground microphones that enable the plumber to hear sounds deeps inside the concrete foundation. This helps the plumber to further pinpoint the location of the busted pipe. 
  • With the sound narrowing down the location, the plumber then uses pressure sensors, a technology of detectors that scan for temperature changes and pressure in the concrete foundation. 
  • Last, they use a video camera designed to go through water or sewer pipes. With optic cables, the pictures travel to a small television screen and allows the plumber to determine the problem area and the size of the pipe. They then know how they need to repair the line. 

How do you stop slab leaks?

To actually stop a slab leak, you’ll need a professional plumber. However, you can do things to minimize, even prevent it from happening again: 

  1. Lower the water pressure at the meter. High water pressure is preferred by most people, but it puts a strain on the water lines from the meter and through your home. Especially in an older home with older pipes. 
  2. Install a water softener if you live in an area with hard water. Hard water will wear your pipes down, and the older the pipes get, the closer you come to experiencing a slab leak. 
  3. Do not use commercial chemical drain cleaners. Chemical drain cleaners may be the most commonly used way to clear clogs, but they are harsh and damage the pipes. There are several natural ways to clear pipes like baking soda and white vinegar. Or purchase as plumber snake at a local big box home improvement store. If those don’t clear a clog, before you decide to go with a chemical, call a plumber. 

How long does it take to repair a slab leak?

Depending on where the slab leak is located, how severe the break or crack of the pipe, and the difficulty of getting to the area to repair or replace, most slab leak jobs are done within 1 to 2 days. Some can take up to a full week. You want to get the estimate in writing for the amount and the time frame when getting quotes from plumbers. 

Can a slab leak cause foundation problems?

A slab leak within your home’s foundation will affect the soil under the foundation. There are a few different issues that can damage your foundation when you have a slab leak. 

  • A large slab leak can soak the supporting clay soil and wash it away. This will result in the slab cracking, shifting, or sinking. 
  • A slow slab leak will boost the cycles of soil contracting and expanding under the foundation. The foundation will start bulging and cracking. 
  • Moisture from a slab leak will seep into any existing cracks in the concrete, making the cracks bigger and the foundation to shift, all weakening the foundation. 
  • In any of these situations, the slab foundation is damaged, and the structural integrity of your home is damaged, unstable, and the value of your home drops. 

Are slab leaks covered by insurance?

In general, no, but every insurance policy is different. Insurance companies will usually see slab leak as a homeowner maintenance responsibility or the pipes as aging and worn from wear and tear. In that case, no, they will not pay for repair of a slab leak or any damage caused by the slab leak. However, you should always check your policy or call your agent. 

slab leak

Is a slab leak covered by home warranty?

It could depend on if you’re the original owner, but a home warranty may cover a slab leak that was caused by any of these three issues: 

  • Poor design
  • Poor construction
  • Damage to the water pipes during construction

A slab leak isn’t anything that a homeowner wants to be faced with, but good chance in some parts of the country it will happen.  Just how common are slab leaks? Slab leaks are the most common where improper construction of a house (developments that were rushed and the inspection was subpar), or if any outside pressure has been applied that impacted the water pipes.

That outside pressure can happen from an earthquake, underground stream,  and a common issue is soil erosion. In areas where these things are factors with the neighborhood, you can almost guarantee you’re going to have a slab leak. Call (817) 560-4144 today for slab leak repair in Fort Worth, TX.