Dealing with an Under Slab Plumbing Leak
How to Remedy Under Slab Plumbing Problems
If you have a home with a slab foundation, there is the chance that you may at some point experience a leak. The passage of time, the shifting of the ground, the settling of the house, and gradually sloping floors are just a few potential causes of an under-slab water leak.
The initial warning signs might not be all that obvious. Perhaps you’ve noticed an increase in water usage in your utility bill? Maybe you’re hearing a constant hissing sound in the walls or behind cabinets? Is there an excessive amount of water or wet ground near your foundation? If your Central Texas home has a slab foundation, then it’s very likely that a slab leak has occurred.
What is a Slab Leak?
A slab leak is a leak that affects the pressurized water pipes that send water into your house. In most cases, the pipes are made out of copper, or they might be PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PEX pipes (polyethylene pipe). The real difficulty is in finding the leak, which can be difficult as the pipes are often placed underneath the slab foundation.
If you have blueprints of your home, you might be able to deduce where your pipes are located and try to find the source of the leak. However, if you should notice any pools of water or mud near your foundation, then the source of the leak is somewhere nearby.
Causes of Slab Foundation leaks
A number of things can cause a slab leak. Over time the weight of your foundation may strain your pipes, causing them to bend or break. Heavy rain can induce the ground to swell and shift around your foundation, eventually leading to breaking pipes. As mentioned, water leaks appearing around your house are a sign of a potential leak. A decrease in water pressure may be caused by blocked or cracked pipes. Leaky faucets, running toilets and internal leaks affecting walls and floors could also be caused by broken pipes.
While you may want to get to the core of the problem, you’ll need some patience to find or at least pinpoint where the leak is situated. A jackhammer may be used to dig away at the foundation in order to find the leak. However, if it’s not found on the first few tries, you’ll have numerous holes in your floor and foundation.
A foundation repair specialist will use numerous tools to find the source of the leak under all the dirt and concrete. Tracing equipment can help negotiate the position of any copper pipes underneath your home and the slab. Listening equipment is sometimes used to check for any particular sounds that could signify a leak; the louder the sound, the greater chance that it’s the source of the issue. Infrared thermometers are also used to locate any potential hotspots on a hot water pipe.
Once a potential source is located, then excavation begins. Jackhammers will likely be used to cut through the floor and the slab to find the pipe.
After the leak is identified and repaired comes the task of repairing the pipe, the foundation, and the floor. Make sure that the full source of the leak is addressed and repaired and that there aren’t any others that may have been overlooked. Sometimes insulated pipes and concrete beams can make it more complicated to find the source of the problem.
Digging Beneath Your House
A less invasive method is to actually dig a tunnel beneath the foundation to find the source of the leak. It’s just as arduous as the excavation method, but you won’t have to dig several holes in your floor. Tracing, heat, and sound tools can also be used here to find the leak, but once the leak is found, you can dig straight downward, creating a staging point about three feet deep. Then dig horizontally beneath the slab until you find the source of the damage.
Aside from how involved the digging is, this method does allow for greater access to the damaged pipe, based on the width of the hole. However, the tunnel itself may not allow for much space in which to work. You may come across a pipe encased in concrete which you may have to hammer away at in order to fix the leak. Digging underneath your house is very handy if the leak is just outside the house, which will be easier to access than digging through your floor.
Re-Route Your Pipes Internally
While digging underground can be a major mess, another option is to reroute your pipes through your attic. This will make it easier to diagnose any leaks, rather than digging through dirt, mud, and concrete underground.
Re-routes are efficient in that once the leak is discovered and repaired, that specific line is then disconnected and re-routed through your walls and into your attic. The pipes are re-fitted to ensure that there are no leaks and while you may have to have your drywall cut open and replaced, you no longer have to deal with digging in the dirt. This option is ideal if you have a one-story house, as you won’t have several floors to re-route the pipes. Of course, much of this depends on the design of your Austin home and how the water lines are established, but it is an alternative rather than digging underneath your slab foundation.
The Pass-Through System
A pass-through is another way to repair a slab leak. Once the points of your leak have been identified, a new one can be created by running through the older copper pipe as a type of protective sleeve. Once the pass-through has taken place, the pipes can be reconnected and the water should be able to flow without any problems.
A cause for concern is that this internal sleeve will narrow the size of the previous line, so it may affect your water pressure. The current copper pipe should also be checked to see if it’s bent or has any nicks, which could also prevent running a new line through it. Also, you may have to ensure that the fix is up to code so that there are no problems in the future.
Of course, each home is different in its design and not all foundations are the same. The severity of your slab leak may depend on a variety of issues, be it drainage, shifting soil, rocks, tree roots, or flooding, to name a few.
If your Central Texas home has a slab foundation and cracks and other problems are making an appearance, contact Done Right Foundation Repair. Our team can repair small and large cracks in concrete slabs in addition to any substructural slab plumbing issues.
If your slab requires plumbing repair, Done Right will use specialized tools to identify your plumbing damage with extreme accuracy. A pinpoint read on the location of the damage will help us minimize the amount of digging involved.
We’ll dig through your slab in the location where we’ve determined major damage exists, and we’ll make repairs to both your foundation and the associated damage, while also finding the source of the problem.
Once all necessary repairs are complete, we’ll restore your foundation and your flooring, while also properly sealing your foundation to avoid any future problems.
About Done Right Foundation Repair
Locally Owned, Texas Proud
Done Right Foundation Repair was created over 20 years ago by Chris Felsing with the support of his family. He started with a small team and a big dream, learning the ins and outs of foundation repair as he went. He and his team looked for ways to provide a complete solution to all foundation issues and have worked tirelessly for the past 20 years to master their craft. Our Central Texas locations: Done Right Foundation Repair in Austin, Done Right Foundation Repair in New Braunfels, Done Right Foundation Repair in San Marcos