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A Common Plumbing Question We Hear: What Exactly Is a Slab Leak?

slab-leak-crack-in-foundationLeak is not a word people want to hear in connection with their home plumbing. And a slab leak, well, that sounds even worse. Almost sinister. But what does it actually mean?

Slab leaks are one of the most important problems that we work on as Suwanee, GA plumbers, and the better informed our customers are about what they are and how to watch for them, the easier they are to stop early. And slab leaks are definitely something you want stopped as early as possible. 

The Slab Leak

In plumbing lingo, a slab leak refers to any leak in a pipe buried down in stone. In the case of residential home plumbing, slab leaks are leaks that occur in the concrete foundation slab a house sits on. Both cold and hot water pipes are buried down in this slab, which does help keep them out of the way, but also makes it difficult to notice and then repair leaks along the pipes.

Unfortunately, being buried down in concrete doesn’t help to prevent leaks from starting in the pipes. The pipes can abrade against the concrete as they move around, which is common for hot water pipes because they expand and contract with the heat. In fact, around 80% of slab leaks are in the hot water pipes. Chemicals in the water can also cause forms of corrosion that lead to leaking. Shifts in the slab from settling into the ground can also cause breaks. 

Noticing a Slab Leak

The biggest obstacle to fixing slab leaks is knowing they’re there in the first place. A leak down under concrete isn’t the easiest problem to spot—until it starts to cause major damage and water seeps up through the floors. You don’t want it to reach that stage, so here are early warning signs you may have a slab leak:

  • The water heater turns on and off at times when no one is using hot water. This could be due to leaks from the hot water lines.
  • The basement floor has cracks on it, or the floor feels warm.
  • You can hear the sound of running water in the basement when there is no water tap on.
  • Humidity in the basement and mold and mildew growth.
  • A spike in water bills you can’t account for.

If you suspect a slab leak, do a test with your water meter: write down its reading, then don’t use any water for an hour. If the reading has changed, there’s a leak somewhere and it’s time to call one of our professional plumbers. If it’s a slab leak, we’ll find it.

Slab Leak Repair

Fixing a slab leak takes special tools and methods. We have to locate where the leak is and then either excavate down to it or find a lateral repair solution. We’ll find the fastest and most effective method to repair this problem. Please don’t delay, since a slab leak that’s left without repairs will waste huge amounts of water and can cause foundation damage as well as other water damage to your house.

Need a great plumber? At Snellville Heating, Air and Plumbing, “Your comfort Is OUR Business!”

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