Signs you may have a slab leak include:
You hear water running under your floors, but your taps and plumbing appliances are off. Carpets are damp or wet without an explanation. You smell mold, mildew, or a general mustiness. There are warm spots on your floor.
You hear running water sounds.
A slab leak can also be detected by simply listening with your ears. Sometimes when water is leaking below the foundation you can actually hear sounds of running water beneath the flooring. You may need a plumber to determine the exact location of the leak.
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.
Check the water meter to see if the numbers change in the next two or three hours. If the levels change, there's a leak somewhere, most likely underneath the floor. If the bathroom is on a second story, go downstairs and check the room underneath. Look for any signs of a leak – water stains or drops of water.
Concrete is already a porous material. This means that water could find its way through your concrete by itself. But, if you have cracks or cove joints that aren't sealed properly, water will use those openings to enter your foundation.
These water leaks start off invisible to the eye and go undetected for weeks or even months, they can cause hidden water damage and mold. After 72 hours after a water leak mold can start to grow, thriving in damp, dark places like behind cabinets and between walls.
A professional plumber has a range of leak detection equipment: Acoustic disc and ground microphones that can hear sounds through thick layers of concrete. Water escaping from the pipe creates a distinct sound the discs and microphones will pick up, helping to narrow down the location.
Slab leaks are very common in areas where homes are older and built on concrete foundation slabs. Basically, slab leaks are extremely common throughout the United States. Well-trained plumbers are able to detect and diagnose slab leaks easily.
Ignoring slab leaks will certainly lead to the collapse of your foundation. Additional expensive repairs might include your flooring, which can become warped from the excess moisture. We don't expect homeowners to know everything about slab leaks because that's our job.
However, homes built on concrete slabs may also suffer from slab leaks. That's what happens when water leaks from the pipes under a slab and gets into the basement unnoticed. Water goes into the cracks in the foundation, causing pressure and eventually damaging it.
Usually, a pipe leak can go undetected for weeks or even months before showing obvious signs of damage.
Is slab leak an emergency? At first no, a slab leak isn't an emergency, but it can create an emergency, and that is usually when you realize you have a slab leak. That is also when you need to take action immediately and call a professional plumber.
The slab repair specialists will use epoxy pipe liners to seal the broken pipe. They will do a camera inspection to see the extent of the damage. If trenchless repair is viable, they will clean the pipe, place the epoxy pipe liner and inflate it, and then let it cure. The entire process can be completed in a few hours.
A water leak detector can reduce the risk by alerting you to problems quickly, so you can act to prevent severe damage. We've tested several over the past few months, and these are the smart water leak detectors we recommend.
Use a metal detector or water leak detector
If you suspect that your leak is underground, you can use a metal detector to help you find the location of the metal pipes potentially leaking underground.
Many of your home's water pipes and drains have been installed under concrete slabs, hidden to the naked eye. But as these pipes age, they can deteriorate and start leaking water into the surrounding concrete and foundations of your home. These leaks can be costly.
Water in the soil around a home puts pressure on the foundation that can cause cracks, leaks, and structural damage. When water pools and saturates the ground next to the house, it can cause significant foundation damage.
Water can have a profound effect on your home's concrete foundation. Through hydrostatic pressure, standing water can enter the pores and cause breaks. Erosion and soil expansion or retraction can cause a loss of support to your structure.
If your home is undergoing a renovation or remodel, you may want to consider repiping a house built on a slab during the construction project. It's easier to replace pipes inside walls before hanging drywall. Brass and copper pipes tend to last 80 to 100 years. Galvanized steel may only last 70 to 80 years.
A leaky slab will trap water under your floorboards. Over time, this will lead to a musty smell that can be attributed to mold or mildew. If the problem goes unchecked, you may even begin to visually observe mildew throughout the home. Basements, closets, and cupboards underneath sinks are some common areas to check.