According to the National Association of Home Builders, nearly 96% of Californian residents live in homes that were built on a concrete slab of foundation. This slab of concrete is the support and main structure for your entire home, so as you can imagine, it is imperative that it is kept in good shape. This is one reason understanding what a slab leak is and knowing how to spot one is so important, especially for residents of California.
We’ve created a fact sheet about slab leaks so that you can keep your home in tip-top shape. Keep reading for a list of everything you’ll ever need to know about slab leaks!
What are Slab Leaks?
A slab leak is the shorthand term professionals use when referring to leaking water pipes underneath a house. Typically, these copper pipers are buried beneath slabs of concrete located underneath the foundations of your house. Unfortunately, this means that they can go unnoticed for an extended period of time. However, as the water damage builds up, soaking away at the understructure of your home, these slab leaks can do considerable damage to the exterior over time. Obviously, this is not a good situation for any homeowner.
What Causes Slab Leaks?
Water pipes often use copper because it is resistant to water erosion. However, nothing lasts forever, and resistant does not mean invulnerable. As time goes on the copper in the pipes becomes increasingly corroded. Eventually, cracks and holes start to develop. When these appear in above ground pipes, they are called pinhole leaks, but underground where they can go undetected for months they cause much more damage.
Other causes include things like earthquake damage or less severe forms of ground shifts, both of which are very common in California. When the surrounding soil shifts erratically, it can put pressure on the pipes from multiple different directions, leading to stress fractures and warping of the metal.
Damage could also be caused by natural abrasion as the pipes shift and grind against exposed surfaces. This is a common issue if pipes were buried too close to the concrete above, or even one another.
Another alternative is that the pipes were simply installed improperly, or suffered damage during the installation process. Minor gaps or dents may seem like nothing but can become significant as time and pressure work on them.
Slab Leak Indicators
These leaks typically start small and, because the leaking pipes are buried under thick concrete, are not always easy to detect. However, there are a couple of signals homeowners should know so they can more easily spot a slab leak before it becomes a bigger problem. These signs include:
Mold or mildew growth or a general musty smell
Moisture under the carpets
Low water pressure
Puddles of water in your yard or near the base of your house
Pipes or water meters active when not in use
Sudden jump up in your water bill
Understanding these indicators and knowing what to look out for can save you a massive headache and significant repair bills in the future, so keep this list as a reference.
If you notice any of the above factors or have noticed any weird occurrences with your plumbing, then don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help. At EZ Plumbing, we understand the stress of having to deal with major home issues, so we do our best to make it easy for you. The most important step you’ll make is the first one so contact us today either by phone or online for a free estimate!