Slab Leak Repair
What are Slab Leaks?
Slab leaks are pressurized water leaks in the water lines underneath concrete slab foundations. Slab leaks can occur in hot and cold water lines, with small pinhole leaks or larger bursts. Most slab leaks Bill Howes’ plumbing technicians run across are in copper lines, but any water line in a home with a slab foundation is subject to a slab leak.
Slab leaks can happen in both residential and commercial settings wherever a slab foundation exists. Slab leaks occur for a variety of reasons including fluctuating water pressure, foundation shifting, and the age of the home and water lines.
Water pressure is one of the leading causes of slab leaks. Pressurized water servicing the home or business comes in from the city water supply and can have a pressure anywhere between 50 and 150 psi. Since homeowners and businesses cannot regulate city water pressure, it is something that can affect the home’s pipes without knowing until it is too late.
Fluctuating water pressure, or too high water pressure enters the home and as it is heated and cooled causes the plumbing supply lines to expand and relax. This expansion, often called thermal expansion, can cause the water lines to create friction against the foundation eventually wearing small holes in the pipe which is known as a pinhole leak. Age can play a larger role, as the friction can go on for some time and most homes in San Diego more than 30 years old, will at one point experience a slab leak. Water pressure that is too high or constantly fluctuating also leads to plumbing fixture leaks in toilets, faucets, showers, and hose faucets.
Pressure regulators and thermal expansion tanks are preventative plumbing applications that can help with high water pressure, and they are now required by Uniform Plumbing Code.
Signs of a Slab Leak
Signs and symptoms of a slab can vary depending on the location, severity, and if it is the hot or cold line leaking. One of the most common signs are warm spots on floors. Warm spots on floors in any room can indicate a hot water slab leak in a hot water line. As the leaks occurs, the flow of water leaves the pipe and can travel up through the foundation creating warm spots near the leaking pipe.
High water bills or sudden spikes in the water bill can also be a symptom of a slab leak. Once the pipe develops a water leakage, water will continue to run even when no taps are in use and this runs up the water meter. This is why you want to determine where the water is leaking from as soon as possible.
Mold and mildew in corners, especially carpeted areas can indicate a slab leak. Water moisture over time with slow slab leaks can build up and cause mold growth before the leak is even noticed.
The sound of running water is also a sign of a slab leak, although it is best to use caution and the sound can appear to be coming from one area of the house or business, or in the walls, yet it is happening beneath the slab.
Precise Electronic Leak Detection Services
Many customers wonder if slab leaks can be detected using thermal imaging or moisture readings. While it is an effective method to determine if slab leak symptoms such as moisture are present, it does not accurately locate the slab leak. Slab leaks detection must be precise, as repairs can change significantly even within inches.
Bill Howe uses electronic slab leak detection to precisely locate the leak. Electronic leak detection works much better than sonar; an expert slab leak plumber will use technology to listen for the leak location, which has distinct sound features from general running water.
Once the plumber has located the slab leak, they can begin the repair estimation. There are many options to deal with an active slab leak, some will directly repair the leaking pipe, while there are other options to consider that will eliminate future leaks and ensure the homes water supply is in top shape.
How We Fix Slab Leaks
Once a slab leak has been detected through electronic slab leak detection, plumbers will maker recommendations for slab leak repairs. Slab leak repair costs can vary depending on the method of repair, some methods may be unavailable depending on the location.
Direct slab leak repair is the least expensive and usually covered by homeowners insurance companies. With a direct slab leak repair, the plumbing technician will open the floor and make a repair on the pipe that is leaking. This is done by cutting the section of leaking pipe, installing a new section and then backfilling the hole. If it is underneath flooring such as hard wood, laminate or carpet, many insurance companies will cover the costs to put the floor back to pre-leak conditions. Direct slab leak repair is only covered by a 30 day warranty, and many plumbing technicians will advise that once a slab leak has occurred, customers are likely to experience another leak along the pipe.
Rerouting slab leaks is another option that allows customers peace of mind that they can eliminate further slab leaks in the line that has been rerouted. A slab leak reroute terminates the leaking line, then reroutes the water line above the slab foundation. Depending on the location of the line, sometimes reroutes are done through walls, or exposed behind cabinets or on the exterior of the home or business. Rerouting the line is usually only done with the leaking line, and it is possible that a separate water line, whichever is left under the slab, will develop a slab leak in the future.
Repiping all water lines is the most recommended method of slab leak repairs, but also the most costly and usually not covered by homeowners insurance. When repiping water lines, plumbers eliminate all water lines in the slab and like a reroute can repipe behind walls, cabinets or on the exterior of the home.
There are times when rerouting the water supply or repiping is the only options, such as when slab leaks are located underneath a post-tension slab foundation. Because of the build, it is not an option to go through the foundation to make a direct repair.
Customers experiencing a slab leak should contact Bill Howe for leak detection services to understand what they may be dealing with. Our expert plumbers can assist in making recommendations and providing estimates to assist with insurance claims, and Bill Howe offers fill water damage restoration services to help mitigate damage and reconstruction services to help put the home or business back together. Bill Howe Restoration & Flood will also work directly with insurance companies for all water mitigation and reconstruction services.
For over 35 years, Bill Howe’s San Diego slab leak team has been the experts at slab leak detection and repair. Call 1-800 BILL HOWE (245-5469) if you have an unknown leak and want to learn more about scheduling, leak detection and slab leak repairs.