A leaky pipe may seem like a minor problem, but it can be a huge headache. Luckily, there is often a quick and inexpensive fix for the common plumbing headache of a leaky pipe. A slab leak is a whole other issue.

There is nothing quick and inexpensive about fixing a slab leak. The problem can go from a homeowner’s headache to a living nightmare. A slab leak should not be taken lightly, and the fix is best left to the professionals.

Because slab leaks can create chaos in your home and wreak havoc on your finances, they should be taken care of right away. The expert plumbers at Plumbing by Jake will waste no time eliminating the chaos and the havoc while getting your home back to normal. If you have a slab leak, call us so we can get to work.

What Is a Slab Leak?

A recent survey concerning the characteristics of new housing construction revealed that more than 63% of the newly built homes in 2019 had slab foundations. Slab foundations are found in 96% of newly built single-family houses in a southwest state.

Slab foundations offer a practical and cost-effective way to build houses that will last and remain structurally sound. To put it simply, a slab is just a concrete foundation. During the construction of these houses, the main plumbing was installed underneath this concrete slab.

When a water pipe leaks or bursts under the concrete foundation, this is a slab leak. Often, a homeowner does not even realize water is leaking under and around the slab. These leaks can cause a list of problems, and eventually, the damage can evolve into structural instability and collapse.

What Causes a Slab Leak?

The four most common causes of slab leaks are:

1. Expansion or Contraction of Soil: 

As soil changes from dry to wet, the soil swells and shrinks. In states where the soil composition is mostly clay or sand, the soil expands and contracts and causes the ground to shift vertically and laterally. This soil movement can cause additional pressure on water pipes, causing the pipes to leak water. In turn, the leaking pipes cause the ground to shift more and damage the plumbing even further.

2. Using Improper Construction or Materials: 

Improperly installed pipes can cause a slab leak. Pipes only become weaker if they are kinked or bent during construction. As the water pressure increases, these pipes are prone to burst. Cast iron and galvanized pipes were commonly used in construction, but they rust and clog with age. Newer homes use corrosion-resistant pipes like:

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride pipe)
  • CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipe)
  • PEX (cross-linked polyethylene)

3. Abrasion and Outside Pressure: 

Over time, water pipes rub against concrete, soil, other pipes, and other building materials. This rubbing causes friction. Extra expansion occurs in hot water pipes, and the pressure causes eventual leaks. Other outside pressures that create slab leaks include:

  • Earthquakes
  • Soil erosion
  • Streams running underground
  • Tree roots growing and spreading 

4. Chemistry

The chemistry of water can be too alkaline or too acidic. The imbalance contributes to pipe corrosion from the inside. High alkaline levels of some concrete and soil can corrode plumbing lines from the outside.

Warning Signs of Slab Leaks

All four of the most common causes for slab leaks only get worse over time. Old and outdated pipes, corrosion, pressure over extended periods, and the movement of the surrounding ground all take time to do damage. Scheduling regular inspections and maintenance will help catch a problem before it goes too far.

It is also important to look out for certain irregularities to help prevent a slab leak from becoming a foundation killer. Recognizing signs of problems underneath your feet is crucial. A few physical signs of a slab leak to watch for include: 

  • Higher water bills but no change in water usage
  • A drop in water pressure
  • An unexplained sound of water under the house
  • Water spots on your floor
  • Gaps appear between the floor and the wall
  • Becomes hard to open windows or doors
  • Flooring develops soft spots, bubbling, or water stains
  • Mold and mildew appear in certain areas of the home
  • The water pump or water heater burns out
  • Concrete foundation cracks

If a slab leak is not caught in time, it can result in the floor erupting like a geyser. Floors and walls can collapse, and the house’s foundation can be permanently damaged.

Fixing a Slab Leak

A slab leak repair needs to be done by a specialist. An expert uses modern and professional equipment to diagnose the extent of the problem and sets a plan of attack based on the leak’s location and the damage already done.

There are several options to repair a slab leak, ranging from non-invasive repairs to digging into the slab. Three of the usual options include:

Trenchless Slab Leak Repair

This option requires the least amount of demolition and is potentially less costly than other methods. Access holes are created, and camera inspections are performed. Pipes are cleaned, and epoxy pipe liners are inserted and inflated to seal the broken pipe. 

Sometimes, older pipes are cut out while new pipes are installed using existing routes. The entire process usually takes a few hours.

Re-Piping or Re-Routing

Problems with a few pipes usually require re-piping. New pipes are installed under floors and inside walls. This requires demolition, and the slab may need to be broken through to access pipes. 

It typically takes a few days, and homeowners need to stay somewhere else during work.

Tunneling Under the Slab

Tunneling allows homeowners to salvage their flooring. This method digs under the slab, making tunnels and keeping the house’s structural integrity intact. 

The necessary repairs are performed, and the tunnels are refilled. Homeowners can stay home during work.

Let Plumbing by Jake Handle Your Plumbing Needs

Slab leak repair can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The repairs can cost a few hundred to several thousand. Slab leak repair needs an expert professional you can trust. The skilled team at Plumbing by Jake offers a five-star guarantee and 100% satisfaction. 

Call us if you think you have a slab leak in Northern Arizona. We are here to find the problem and the best option to repair it.