If you think you have a leak in your home, the common places you expect to find it is kitchen and bathroom faucets, your shower hose, toilet flapper valve, water heater tank, the main water supply line to your home, and one of the several water pipe connections inside the house.
But what if you still don’t find the leak after checking all these places? SGI Phoenix Management Team says there is one more place where a leak may happen in your home. Although they are less common, water leaks also happen under your building’s slab foundation. How can you fix a leak under your slab foundation?
Leaks under the slab foundation are among the hardest to detect. Typically, you will not even know you have a leak until you get an appalling water bill or, your home’s foundation starts to show signs of trouble. So, how do you find and fix a leak underneath your slab foundation?
How to find a leak under your home’s slab foundation
Here are some signs you can expect to see when you have a leak under your foundation:
Water coming out of your home
: Water seeping or pouring from underneath your home is the clearest sign of a leak under the slab foundation. This is the easiest way to know if there is a leak in the water pipes beneath your home.
The sound of water running through the walls
You may also hear water running inside your walls even if you don’t actually see any water coming out of the house. This will sound like the whirring of a fan inside your walls.
Warm or damp spots on the floor
If the hot water supply pipes are affected, the heated water will be sent into the dirt beneath your home. This will make parts of the flooring in the home warmer than other parts. You may also find damp or wet spots on the floor.
Very high water bills
If your water bill increases but the way you use water has not changed, you may have a leak under the foundation. To know if this is the case, check the water meter when water is not being used in the house. If there is movement in the water meter, you have a leak in your plumbing.
Fixing leaks under a slab foundation
Due to the difficulty of reaching the site of the leak, fixing a plumbing leak under the slab foundation can be very expensive. Here are the three standard methods for fixing this problem. The solutions are listed from the most invasive and costliest ones to the least expensive fix.
Breaking the slab with a jackhammer
For obvious reasons, this solution only works if you have pinpointed the exact location of the leak. There are different ways to accurately locate a leak beneath the foundation of a building. An experienced plumber can use listening equipment to “hear” where the noise is loudest. They can use an infrared thermometer to find the warmest spot on the floor or trace the path of the copper line beneath the floor with tracing equipment.
Once this is done and the plumber is reasonably sure of the location of the leak, they can proceed to demolish the concrete and excavate the area until they reach the pipe. This is the most expensive way to repair a leak under your home’s foundation and there are no guarantees that the leak will be found on the first attempt.
Tunneling underneath the home
This method achieves the same result as the first without being as invasive. As with the first method, you must first narrow down the location of the leak. However, instead of breaking up the floor to get to the leak, the plumber digs an access pit close to the nearest external wall. From this pit, they can tunnel horizontally until they reach the leak.
Although this method is less invasive, it is just as much work as using a jackhammer to break the slab. Most of the digging is done by hand because there is no digging equipment that can work in this type of situation. But the method is still better than hammering the slab because you can repair a larger section of pipe than you can when you use the first method.
Re-route pipes through the attic
This method disposes of the need to locate the site of the leak. Instead, the plumber finds the line that is leaking under the slab. That line is disconnected from the plumbing system and an entirely new line is installed to replace it. But unlike the old line, this new line is not underground. It is passed through the walls of the house and through the attic.
Rerouting is a great method for fixing leaks underneath the slab. This method avoids the hard work of demolishing the concrete and excavating the earth. Moreover, it helps to prevent future leaks. The main issue with this method is it can be challenging if a building has many stories.
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