If you suspect a slab leak in your home, it needs attention right away. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, household water leaks can amass up to 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide when needing slab leak repair. To avoid adding to this equation, it’s important to know the signs of a slab leak and what to do if you suspect you have one.
If left to continue leaking, you may end up with mold, mildew, and flooding. This is in addition to the extensive damage to your plumbing system.
A slab leak occurs when water supply pipes or drain pipes that run under the concrete slab foundation below your home crack, break, or burst. Pipe corrosion, friction, erosion, improper installation, and high water pressure are among the most common reasons for slab leaks.
These leaks can do more than just increase your water bill. They can cause serious damage to your home and possessions, possibly leading to foundation damage. When left unattended for an extended period of time, the resulting erosion can cause major structural damage to your home, which is far more expensive to remedy than repairing leaky pipes.
Nearly all metal corrodes over time, and even if you have copper pipes in your home, there is still the issue of pinholes. If your home is 25 years old or older, you’re at an increased risk of a slab leak, even if you’ve been diligent about your inspections and upkeep. Slab leaks can be difficult to spot because they are hidden under your flooring and a few inches of concrete. If you notice hot spots or warm areas on your floor that otherwise can’t be explained, you may be dealing with a leak in a hot water line.
Some other key warning signs of a slab leak include:
Hearing running water when no water faucet is on
Spinning water meter when no water is in use
Noticeable moisture or mildew on flooring
Unusually high water bills
Lower water pressure
If you have low water pressure or a sudden drop in pressure, this may indicate a major slab leak. If you see wet spots on the floor or hear running water or hissing and cannot determine the source, it’s best to call an emergency plumbing service. The longer the leak is allowed to run, the more damage (and more expensive) the repair. If you notice a slab leak at your home or business, you have a few different options for repair.
Different Slab Leak Repair Methods
If the leak is minor and the pipe is in good condition, you can replace the leaking section of the pipe and use new fittings. This method, though quick, isn’t very convenient because it requires destroying the concrete and repairing the floor afterward to match the rest of the flooring.
This method uses new pipes placed above ground. A plumber reroutes everything to the new pipes. Depending on the extent of the damage, it may or may not be available. It involves a new series of pipes routed above the ground through your house or around the outside of the home, which means a lot of holes made in your home or an exposed pipe running outside along the side of your home.
This approach completely replaces the pipes and is used when there are multiple water leaks or a customer prefers not to jackhammer their floor and replace their flooring. It’s a major undertaking while repairs are made. Like rerouting, a complete repipe requires a very invasive process of opening holes in the walls, ceilings, and floors and the need to remediate those invasive openings.
Pipe coating is a pipe restoration option that uses epoxy to create a new pipe within the broken one, fixing pipes “in-place.” It covers pinholes and seals leaks. There’s little to no need to open walls or use a jackhammer to break the concrete foundation of your home.
Unless you’ve ignored the symptoms of a leak, your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover slab leak detection and water damage restoration. However, they may not cover the actual slab leak repair. Knowing which repair method to use is the result of a thorough home inspection.
Slab Leak Spot Repair
If you can isolate the problem to an area that’s relatively easy to access and know only a small amount of pipes needs to be replaced, then spot repair can be a good option for your slab leak repair—at least for commercial buildings.
For homes, however, it’s often not practical because of the disruption and destruction involved. Jackhammers break the concrete to provide pipe access and the flooring has to be replaced.
If the leak originates in an area that’s difficult to access or is found to be more extensive than originally anticipated, you may find other leak repair solutions to be a better option.
If the water lines are not in good condition, a spot repair will likely only provide temporary relief until the next leak begins. Because of this, many insurance companies require epoxy coating or repiping before they will continue to provide coverage.
Pros of Spot Repair
Good for small pipe leaks
Ideal for commercial buildings with minor issues
Cons of Spot Repair
Jackhammers are noisy and disruptive
Costly to deal with floor replacement after the repair
Not suited for major leaks or buildings with multiple leaks
May only provide a temporary fix
Slab Leak Pipe Rerouting
This solution provided for a slab leak repair is often the one many homeowners choose. Rerouting pipes leaves the old plumbing in place and installs new pipes. The new pipes are then rerouted around the edge of the concrete slab, or through the attic. This method requires more plumbing work but is often more affordable than jackhammering through concrete and repairing the flooring after the repair.
Pros of Pipe Rerouting
More affordable than breaking the concrete and replacing the floor
New pipes are easier to access for any future repairs
Cons of Pipe Rerouting
More extensive plumbing work required
More invasive work to the interior of one’s home
Slab Leak Epoxy Pipe Coating
Slab leak epoxy pipe coating is an increasingly popular repair method. Unlike traditional repair methods, there’s no need to remove existing flooring or jackhammer through the concrete. There’s little to no digging required, and the process is fast and quiet.
Slab leak epoxy coats the inside of your existing pipes with a non-toxic epoxy coating to prevent pinhole leaks. Pipes are coated in place and by use of warm compressed air. It cures in a couple of hours and functions like a brand new pipe. In most cases, the water is turned back on the same day, so you’re not inconvenienced for a long period of time while the repairs are made.
Pros of Epoxy Pipe Coating
Faster process; only takes a few hours to cure
Very little to no jackhammering or drilling
Cleaner; not much destruction or digging
Strong and durable
Residents can stay in their home
Cons of Epoxy Pipe Coating
May not be a suitable plumbing repair option for every situation
It’s easy to see why epoxy coating is becoming the chosen method for most slab leak repairs. It’s often the best way to get top-quality treatment, without paying top-dollar.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact us right away.