Many houses are built on a concrete slab foundation consisting of a single concrete layer that is several inches thick. A bed of crushed gravel supports the concrete slab. Pressurized water pipes and sewer lines are installed under the foundation before the concrete slab is poured. Additionally, it has become increasingly popular to install radiant heating systems in and under flooring. Often, the heat is delivered via a system of pipes that carry hot water embedded in or directly below the floor. These sewer lines and water and heating pipes can deteriorate over time, leading to a type of water damage known as a slab leak.
WHAT CAUSES A SLAB LEAK?
While there are many potential causes of a slab leak, there are some common causes to look out for. First, ground shift often leads to slab leaks when the massive weight of a home takes a toll on the concrete slab it was built upon. If the resulting ground shift is significant enough, it puts pressure on water lines, leading to cracks and leaks. Earthquakes can have a similar effect.
Another common cause of slab leaks is faulty wrapping on pipes. During normal use, wrapping protects your pipes against the surrounding concrete as they expand and contract. If the wrapping on a pipe is faulty, the pipe is vulnerable to cracks and leaks. Slab leaks are also often caused by nicked lines. Nicked lines result when water lines suffer damage during installation and normal wear and tear erodes the small nick into a larger crack. Lastly, electrolysis can cause slab leaks. Electrolysis occurs when the copper in pipes interacts with minerals in the underlying soil, producing a subtle electrical reaction that erodes the pipes over time.
DETECTING A SLAB LEAK
Unfortunately, slab leaks can be difficult to detect. Moreover, they can lead to extensive damage and can be expensive to repair. It is always best to catch and repair slab leaks as early as possible. There are common symptoms you can look for to help you determine whether or not your home is suffering a slab leak.
Keep an eye out for sudden spikes in your water bill or a significant drop in water pressure throughout your home. If you notice a constant sound of water running, that could also indicate a slab leak. Damp or warped flooring often occurs when a slab leak has been going on long enough to saturate the concrete underneath the flooring. Mold and mildew can also indicate a slab leak. Once water seeps into your floors, it can travel up your walls and seep into drywall. If you notice bumps or rises in your floor, slab leaks may be causing your foundation to shift, crack, or settle. Finally, if there is a leak in a hot water line, the floor above it may feel warm to the touch. If you suspect that your home may be suffering from a slab leak, contact a professional inspector to make sure.
REPAIRING SLAB LEAKS
As soon as you discover a slab leak—or even think you might have a slab leak—take immediate action. Call in the professionals and consult with your insurance agent to see if you should consider filing a claim. Each day you delay can add to the damage your home will endure and the cost of repairing the damage. Moreover, your insurance is less likely to cover the costs if you allow the problem to progress and worsen. Although you may be tempted to do some research and fix the problem yourself, it is always best to call in professionals.
Are you experiencing water damage in your home and wondering if your insurance will cover it? Check out our article Top Safety Precautions You Should Take When Faced with Water Damage and reach out to your agent today! At Avner Gat, Inc., we represent your interests in talks with the insurance company throughout the claims process. Give us a call to learn more about how we can assist you with your claim!