Slab leak causes a lot of water damage in a short period of time and is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. A slab is a foundation made of concrete on which some houses are built. Sewer and water lines run below the slabs, and as the lines break or deteriorate, sewage releases water under the building.
It is necessary to know if there is a sign of slab leakage and repair them with time to reduce the cost of repairing them.
Slab leakages lead to many factors, including faulty pipe installation, weakened water lines, poor constructions or chemical reactions due to the earth’s metals, and shifting of the soil underneath the slab.
To inspect slab leakage various common signs in the houses this is because of
- Heat in-floor – As the hot water pipes leak, the floor will feel warm or hot. This is a result of leakage in the concrete slab that will warm up the floor. If you hear the sound of running water near the area of the bathroom sink or kitchen sink, or water heater, then slab leaks need to be fixed. This sound replenishes the pipes due to water sound or loss of slab.
- Higher water bills- If you buy good quality pipes, this can only increase your expenses. But you should always pay attention to the water bills. If the water bill goes up in one month or steadily over a few months, then there is a possibility of leakage in the pipes.
- Floor or carpet gets damped- If the floors are wet, this indicates that there must be some leakage. Water may be leaking out of the pipes in the house. If this problem keeps on for some time, it can result in leakage coming out of the floor, which will wet the floor.
- Water pressure is low- if the water is leaking, there will be less water in the indoor plumbing. Always pay attention to the water pressure while taking a bath or washing your hands, and unexpected lowering of water pressure is always a sign of leakage.
Slab leakage is the fact that the soil under the house is unstable as homes are built on the concrete slabs or beam construction as basement walls are cracked or breaker due to shifting in the soil as the water pressure is high. Slab construction is the house’s foundation, and all the plumbing pipes run beneath this slab. Due to that, these are difficult to reach. Many times, these plumbing lines or pipes crack under the slab. This is a severe problem of a slab leak.
As the water runs through, it erodes the soil under the house. This can result in the removal of support of the slab and will put strains on the floor. This will develop cracks from a hairline width of an inch or more. This, in the end, gives a clear path to the water to enter the house.
Depending on the extension of the leakage in the house, you can experience significant water damages to the flooring, walls, furniture, and other appliances. To fix a leakage beneath tonnes of concrete is not an easy task, and it cannot be done with a DIY plumbing job; only professionals can do this.
Various plumbing materials that can cause slab leakage
Slab leaks due to failure in the home plumbing system. These failures can be caused by faulty installation of pipes, chemical reactions of metals in the earth, and weakened water lines. Sometimes the drum rolls, and the soil shifts beneath the slab.
Firstly consider the materials of pipes with which they are made, which is a function of the plumbing system. Material is a problem sometimes. If you have seen the plumbing work at the time of construction, you must have little idea about the pipelines, what they are made of, and how the installations work is done.
Types of pipes:-
- Cast iron pipe
In the 1960s, people installed these pipes in the house; plastics have become popular since then. Cast iron is much quieter than plastic pipes because the vibrations are less. In plastic, you hear less sound of running water. The cast iron is durable and will not burn, and they are not prone to fire. But if cast iron is installed ungrounded, the service lines can be eroded by water and minerals in the soil. These days cast iron pipes are protected with sheathed material. These are much superior then the pipes in the 1960s.
- Galvanised steel pipes
These are common from the 1950s. These are also strong but susceptible to corrosion and prone to clogging. The coating inside these pipes wears off eventually if the pipes are left vulnerable to rust and mineral, which can clog the lines due to solid minerals and waste matter. The life of galvanised steel pipes is around 50 years.
- Copper pipes
Copper pipes are more durable and less corrosion-prone. Copper comes in different varieties according to its wall thicknesses. If these pipes are installed carefully, they can last for many years. If there is a dent in the water, lines can run the water out of the pipes even from the small hole and lead to leakage.
Rigid copper pipes– The other choice of pipe is a copper pipe which can supply both hot and cold water through them.
Flexible copper pipes are used for water supply lines to the appliance, such as dishwashers, icemakers, and refrigerators.
- Plastic pipes
These are corrosion-resistant and should be used above or below the ground. These pipes are easy to use and resist corrosion. The most common type of these pipes is:-
ABS( acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is black; this is the first plastic pipe introduced in residential plumbing. But ABS creates problems in keeping the joints together, leading municipalities to disallow these pipes in constructing new homes as a failure in the joint beneath the slab can cost a lot. ABS deforms when exposed to sunlight directly, so it is not suitable for all ground installations in the buildings.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride pipe) is the most commonly used pipe these days. It has different colored pipes for other uses, including white for drainage lines and irrigation, green for sewerage water, blue for potable water lines, grey for electrical conduit, and purple for reclaimed water supply.
CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipe) is similar to PVC, but the chlorination process helps them give different physical properties. They can work in higher temperatures which makes them more suitable than the PVC pipes when hot water is running in these pipes.
PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) – the newest technology pipes are PEX which is used as an alternative to all other pipes mentioned above. It is very flexible to cut quickly and is adaptable to compression to fittings. It has some drawbacks also as it requires a skilled person for installations, and its more flexibility can cause vibrations and movement problems.
Reasons for slab leak
- Improper construction
The most common cause or reason for slab leaks is poor pipe quality or improper installation of pipes. It happens that the pipes kink, bend, or dent during installation; this can affect the areas where the pipes leak and burst because of water flowing over time in the pipes.
Copper pipes are most prone to suffering from corrosion as they are soft and more vulnerable to elements. The lines are also old in old homes, so they require replacement rather than repair.
- Outside pressure
If the water pressure is more, this causes slab leakage. The house’s foundation gets affected; the house can move slightly by putting pressure on the pipes. These things happen due to different reasons like
- Soil erosion
- Underground stream
The pressure tends to be large and potential damage is due to slab leaks. If you do not check these leakages, they can result in flooding.
- Poor water quality
Keep an eye on the water pH level also. Sometimes the water is acidic or alkaline, which can corrode the pipes. There is a way to find whether acidic water by looking at the bathtub, shower, or sink has some blue or green strains or the water is smelly. If the water leakage is left unchecked, it can also damage irreversible water. The pH of the water should be between 6.5 and 8.5.
This is also a common reason for slab leaks. As the pipes are used regularly, they are rubbed against gravel, concrete, and other materials, which creates constant friction, which gradually wears down and results in spring leaks. The hot water pipes are at a high risk of abrasion, and these pipes expand when heated up due to constant friction leakage.
Time is the biggest culprit of slab leaks. The older homes often have copper or galvanised steel pipes, which are more at risk. With time corrosion happens, and Overstress or pressure on the pipes can lead to leakage in slabs.
Regular maintenance helps to ensure that home plumbing is in shape. Keep an eye on the irregularities to prevent slab leakages as well. Slab leakage can lead to significant damages, affecting the building a lot.
Author Bio:- Karl Brown
Karl, a marketing manager at EZ Leak Detection, loves to write about plumbing and HVAC services to make the life of the reader easier. Leakages in your property can be dangerous but not all the leaks are easily accessible. He has given extensive information about water leak and slab leak and tips to detect them quickly along with quick solutions to prevent you from inconveniences and health hazards.
Leakage problems and malfunction of appliances demand comprehensive solutions. Also, regular maintenance is not the thing to be missed for leading life with zero hassles. Read our recent post related to leakage detection and repair, alerts for HVAC shutdown and how to repair it, and installation of AC and water heater in San Diego.