How to Detect a Water Leak Under a Foundation Slab

Having a leaky pipe in your home is never a good thing. However, some leaks are especially troublesome. While we won’t use the word “lucky,” you’re better off having a leaky pipe somewhere that’s visible and accessible, like under a sink or in the basement with an exposed ceiling.

How to Detect a Water Leak Under a Foundation Slab

On the other end of the spectrum are leaks that are hard to detect and access – such as a busted pipe under a concrete slab foundation. Slab leaks are difficult to detect, but some common warning signs include increased water bills, warm or raised areas on the floor, or shifts in the foundation.  

What causes a Slab Leak?

There are two main reasons why a pipe may start leaking under a concrete slab.

  • Corroded pipes, especially from older materials such as cast iron, galvanized steel, and Orangeburg
  • Shifting ground due to expansive soil (a common occurrence in Texas), an earthquake, or other disruption.
  • Tree roots, which can invade and puncture the pipes. That is why it’s important to consider the proximity of trees when building a home.
  • Commercial waste pipe cleaners, which can damage and corrode the pipes. That is why it is important to hire a reputable plumbing contractor with experience and certification.

Signs of a Slab Leak

Regardless of the cause, it’s important to catch the slab leak as soon as possible to limit the damage to your home. Here are some clues that trouble is brewing under your feet.

  • Increased water bills – Every day that a slab leak goes undetected, gallons upon gallons of water are wasted. If you notice an unexplained spike in your water bill, a leak is likely to blame. 
  • Bulges or raised areas in the floor – When water leaks out of an underground pipe, it has to go somewhere. Severe slab leaks often warp floors, creating what looks like a bulge or dome. 
  • Warm spots on the floor – Along the same lines as the warping, the presence of leaking water can create warm areas on the floors.
  • Wet or smelly floors – If the water seeps through the concrete into the floor, you may notice damp spots or musty smells coming from the floor or walls.
  • Foundation shifting or cracking – One of the most severe consequences of a slab leak is foundation heaving. In addition to shifting, the foundation can also suffer cracks which can be very costly to fix. 

How to Fix a Slab Leak

Unfortunately, pipes underneath a concrete slab are challenging to reach, and therefore there’s no “easy” way to fix a leak. In many cases, the concrete foundation will need to be dug up to access the pipe. It may also be possible to reroute the pipe. For these reasons (and many others), fixing a slab leak is best left to an experienced plumber. A professional can also use leak detection equipment to pinpoint the source of the problem and minimize the disruption to your home. 

In Texas, homeowners’ insurance may cover the costs of a slab leak repair. However, it’s always best to double-check with your insurance provider or an experienced plumber before starting any work. However, with early leak detection and proper maintenance, you may be able to avoid a slab leak altogether. 

Who Should Fix a Slab Leak?

Slab leaks should always be repaired by a professional, such as a plumber or contractor. It is not recommended to attempt to repair a slab leak yourself as it can be dangerous if done improperly and can also lead to further damage to your home. A professional will have the proper tools and experience necessary to properly diagnose the issue, make repairs and prevent future problems.

When you contact a professional to repair your slab leak, they will start by inspecting the area and using specialized equipment to locate the source of the leak. Once the source has been identified, they will be able to determine what type of repairs are necessary in order to fix it. These repairs can range from patching the pipe to replacing sections of the pipe altogether. Depending on the severity and location of the leak, they may also need to dig up a portion of your foundation in order to access the pipe.

In conclusion, detecting and fixing a water leak under a foundation slab can be tricky and costly. But with regular maintenance and proactive inspection, you can keep your home safe from the damaging effects of a slab leak. It’s also important to hire an experienced and certified plumbing contractor to inspect and repair any existing slab leaks. With these simple precautions, you can feel peace of mind knowing your home is leak-free. 

Slab Leak Repair in Northwest Houston

If you notice any of the warning signs listed above, be sure to call Rooter-Man Plumbers right away. There’s only one guarantee with slab leaks – they will get worse if ignored. Allow our experienced team to fix the leak properly and as quickly as possible. Schedule an appointment today at 281.351.4422.

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