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How to Prevent Slab Leaks
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Plumbing 04/20/18

How to Prevent Slab Leaks

We make sure to get annual checks up from our doctors, for our vehicles, and for our heating & air conditioning systems, but how often do we think to do a yearly “plumbing check-up?”

Oftentimes, homeowners don’t have to worry about their plumbing systems until something goes wrong. Routine checkups will help homeowners avoid major problems by identifying any possible red flags while regular maintenance keeps our home healthy and in good working condition.

Some common plumbing issues that take homeowners by surprise, but that can likely be avoided include water heater failures, fixture leaks, burst angle stops, drain clogs and overflows, and even slab leaks!

How Can Checkups and Regular Maintenance Prevent Plumbing Issues?

Regular checks on home plumbing systems help homeowners to identify issues they may not be aware of, as well as indicators of future problems.

Most homeowners opt to schedule an annual inspection, or even twice per year. Spring and fall are the perfect times for general plumbing checks; spring gets homeowners ready for summer vacation and fall can prepare for winter and holiday seasons. Both the summer and holiday season are typically times when kids are home for school and visitors create more use on plumbing systems, as well as more entertaining!

A home plumbing inspection from a professional plumber is different than an inspector who charges a fee prior to selling a home. The cost will vary by company, but all reputable companies should offer a free quote, and visual inspections should not be more than a minimum hourly charge. Be sure to ask any prospective company for a full scope of inspection and charge before booking.

What Can Homeowners Expect?

Manual worker fixing wooden floor ruined from moisture and water

A general home plumbing inspection will consist of a visual assessment of the homes fixtures such as lavatory and kitchen faucets, tub and/or shower faucets, water shut off valves and supply lines, water heater connections and valves, main water shut offs to the home, toilets (inside of the tanks and at the base of the toilet for signs of leaks), water pressure, exterior fixtures such as hose connections, as well as the homes water pressure which can say a lot about what might be going on under the foundation. If the home is on a raised foundation, some visual inspections may include checking the drain lines as well.

During a general inspection, plumbers will be looking for signs of leaks, damage to any fixtures, compromise due to water pressure fluctuations, or any item that may need to be replaced or repaired.

Plumbers can perform additional services during a home inspection, but further costs may apply. If homeowners want a full scope of their sewer lines, a plumber can complete a sewer camera inspection to determine if there are any roots, breaks, or issues. If a leak is suspected under the slab, a slab leak detection service may be recommended. Because there is no camera service for a home’s water lines, inspecting the piping under the slab is difficult. However, water pressure, the age of the home, and past leaks and homeowners water bill are all great indicators of any possible problems.

Should Homeowners Preemptively Reroute Water Lines?

There is no need for homeowners to invest in rerouting water lines in the slab foundation or to consider a repipe unless they have experienced multiple leaks before. In most cases, taking precautions against high water pressure and performing annual maintenance and home check ups will help to reduce the likelihood of a surprise leak and help to prevent future leaks.

Signs You Have a Slab Leak

Some signs pointing to a possible leak under the slab include high water pressure, the age of the home, warm and wet spots, or mold, and other leaks in the home.

By routinely checking the homes water pressure, homeowners can ensure the water coming into their home from the city supply is not too high. All homeowners should install a pressure regulating valve to keep the pressure at a safe PSI (pressure per square inch). The recommended pressure should never exceed 80 PSI, and professional plumbers recommend a range between 50 and 75.

Understanding the age of the home and past leaks allows homeowners to create an action plan and be proactive in identifying potential trouble areas. Older homes with water pipes running under the slab are more at risk of a slab leak, as pipes heating and cooling day after day create friction and can eventually wear the copper lines down. If homeowners have had previous slab leaks, they should be extra aware of any signs of a slab leak.

Homeowners can look for warm spots on tile or hardwood floors, or wet spots on carpets as a sign a slab leak is occurring. If it has been ongoing for any amount of time, the potential for mold growth increases as well. Homeowners can check for signs of growth along baseboards and inside of lower cabinets along the floor.

Closeup surface cracked marble floor texture background

If homeowners are experiencing other fixture leaks, such as a running toilet or dripping faucet, it is a great time to check the water pressure. High water pressure is a likely culprit of slow drips and leaks. If the pressure is high, homeowners should check for other more serious signs of a slab leak.

When homeowners suspect a slab leak, they should call a slab leak detection and repair specialists as soon as possible. Slab leak repairs are fairly routine, but the longer they are left unattended, the more damage they can cause and costlier the repairs can be.

Homeowners have three options for slab leak repairs: direct repair, rerouting, and slab repiping.

A direct slab leak repair goes through the floor at the precisely located area to perform a repair of the leaking section of pipe. Professional plumbers will make the repair and roughly finish the concrete floor, but a water damage and reconstruction specialist will be needed for all finished flooring repairs. Homeowners insurance typically covers the cost of the finish work and location of the slab leak, but many do not cover the repair itself.

Rerouting the leaking line is a popular option among homeowners as it ensures they will have no future leak in the copper line that is rerouted. Once it is compromised in one area, chances of future leaks in that line increase. When a plumber reroutes the leaking line, they can eliminate the worry of future repairs (on that line only). Some homeowner’s insurance will cover partial rerouting and/or leak detection. Homeowners should contact their insurance company for exact policy details.

The only method of repair that eliminates all future leak worries is whole house repiping. However, it is the costliest of all options and insurance companies generally consider this a preventative measure and will not cover the cost. A professional plumber can repipe single lines or all water lines in the slab.

Luckily, Bill Howe offers full-service slab leak detection, repair, and can even put your home back together with Bill Howe Restoration & Flood Services, all with one phone call!

Homeowners can also schedule a general home inspection and the plumbing experts at Bill Howe Plumbing will assess all visual plumbing components and make any recommendations based on their findings.

For a plumbing check up, preventative maintenance, or to schedule slab leak detection, call 1-800 Bill Howe (245-5469) today.

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