Finding a Slab Leak Under the Foundation

How to Find a Slab Leak Under the Foundation

Piper Plumbing’s Saving the Bacon Tip:

Knowing How to Find a Slab Leak Early Helps Texans Avoid Costly Repairs

Learn more about how to find a slab leak.

May 1, 2012
United States, Texas, Dallas

Clay soils are the Texas homeowner’s bane. Shifting soils stress homes from the ground up including the pipes under your home. As a homeowner, you know it is just a matter of time before pipes age and leak. Listen to you home because it can tell you early on how to find a slab leak. Master Plumber Richard Tenpenny from Piper Plumbing cautions homeowners saying “Catching the leak when it first starts and fixing it will prevent additional damage to your home.”

Why is it a concern? Water accumulation under your foundation can damage your foundation. According to the the Guidelines for Pipe Bursting TTC Technical Report prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, leaks under slabs will cause localized ground displacement or heaving around the leak. This can cause cracking in the slab, as well as tiles, walls and floors. In addition to possibly having to pay for repairs and seeing an increase in your water bill, you may have to deal with the sanitary issues that increased moisture causes, such as mold and mildew.

Many events and conditions cause under slab leaks:

  • Bad pipes
  • Poorly assembled fittings and pipes
  • Electrolysis causing pinhole leaks
  • Rust
  • Ground movement from expanding or contracting soils
  • Roots
  • Commercial waste pipe cleaners that actually eat through pipes

Home owners’ insurance may help offset the cost of repairs, but why go there. In Texas A&M’s report on Insurance, Texas homeowners can be insured for “sudden and accidental” damage, such as that caused by a burst pipe.” Unfortunately Texas homeowners know that they have some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. Early leak detection can minimize repair costs and prevent the need to file claims.

Luckily, there is a six point check list on how to find an under slab leak:

  • Check for water noises under the concrete slab.
  • Check you water bill for any unexplained increases is usage.
  • Check floors for increased humidity or wet spots.
  • Check floors for warm spots (warm water pipes leaking).
  • Check floors for cold spots (cold water pipes leaking).
  • Check for cracks in floor, bubbles in linoleum, cracks in walls and baseboards.

If you think that you have a leak, Master Plumber Richard Tenpenny recommends shutting all water use off in your house. Then read your water meter. Write down the time, date and usage. In an hour, re-read your meter. You may have a leak if there is a difference in the numbers. Keep in mind leaking sprinklers, toilets and faucets also mean you are using water.

Finding a leak in a water line is a science. Consider calling a plumber in at this point. It may be cheaper than buying listening devices for leak detection. There are devices available to listen for changes in how the water sounds going through pipes. A change may indicate a break. If you decided to use one of these devices, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Check your user’s guide if you have any questions.

Tenpenny recommends getting the leak fixed as soon as possible. “A good plumber can save homeowners a lot of frustration and money by fixing problems before they get out of hand,” he said.

Piper Plumbing has specialized in plumbing needs of homeowners in the DFW area for over 10 years. Piper’s master plumbers’ reputations for prompt, honest service assure customers reliable service.

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