What is a slab leak?
Most modern homes have concrete slab foundations in which a layer of concrete is poured or placed onto a soil or gravel surface. The house is then built on this slab. Any damage to the slab undermines the structural integrity of the entire house.
A “slab leak” is what happens when your plumbing system leaks under the concrete slab foundation. This can lead to a number of issues that will only get worse if the leak isn’t stopped. There are several possible causes of slab leaks.
Slab Leak Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
The symptoms of a slab leak aren’t always obvious and some are easy to mistake for other issues. If you notice any of the symptoms, however, it’s a good idea to investigate. A slab leak can do major damage in a relatively short amount of time.
The sound of running water – If you hear water running under your floor when none of your taps or water-using appliances are on, there’s a good chance you have a leak.
A hot floor – A floor or part of a floor that’s unusually warm suggests a leak in the hot water lines. Walking barefoot on the floor will make hotspots easier to detect.
Puddles – Puddles along the side of your house that have no obvious origin, such as a leaky hose bib, could be coming from cracks in your foundation caused by a slab leak. Indoors, you might find puddles on the floor emerging from underneath a cabinet, from between tiles or from the bottom of a wall. This is most likely to happen in the kitchen or bathroom near a fixture or pipe.
Mold – Moisture encourages mold and mildew growth. If you find mold under your carpets, it’s possible the moisture feeding it is coming from a slab leak.
Abnormally high water use – The most obvious sign is that the dial on your water meter is constantly spinning, indicating you’re using water even when all your taps are closed and your water-using appliances are off. A leak in a hot water line will have your water heater constantly running, too.
Cracks – A crack in your slab foundation or in your walls or flooring could be caused by water damage due to a slab leak.
Professional Slab Leak Detection
Even if you notice signs of a slab leak, you’ll still need to confirm whether or not you really have a damaged underground pipe. There’s no need to break the foundation open to do this, though. Don’t let a plumber open your foundation before they’ve confirmed the existence of a leak by other means.
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