As a homeowner, you know that plumbing leaks pose a significant threat to the health, safety, and structural integrity of your home. However, you may be less aware of the numerous types of leaks that can develop on a residential property, from dripping faucets to less visible types like slab leaks.
In this blog, we explain what slab leaks are and how this particular type of leak can develop in your home. Additionally, we list seven of the most common warning signs that a dangerous slab leak has occurred on your property.
What Are Slab Leaks?
Many of the leaks in residential plumbing systems occur in easily visible areas, such as in plumbing fixtures like shower heads. Other leaks, however, can be obscured by the structure of the home. For example, if a pipe bursts in a ceiling, floor, or wall, the leak is not necessarily immediately noticeable.
In addition to these two common leak types, water intrusion can also happen underneath concrete slabs, like your foundation or garage floor. Slab leaks tend to develop due to issues with the main water or waste lines to a home, usually corrosion or bursting.
These mains are laid deeper than any other type of pipe, and this system controls the inflow of water from your water source onto your property, as well as drainage from your home into a septic or sewer system.
When slab leaks involve water lines, the intrusion can lead to mold, structural instability, and other serious issues. If the leak involves a waste line, the greywater involved can lead to serious health risks as well.
What Are the Signs of a Slab Leak?
Because you never get the chance to check under your slab to see if your pipes are doing all right, you will most likely not notice a slab leak until it has developed fairly significantly. Due to the potential repercussions of this type of leak, you should act immediately if you notice warning signs like the following.
1. Audible Water Flow
While you may not see a slab leak right away, you may hear it. If you notice sounds of water flow while you’re on the lowest level of your home and no water is turned on, you may be hearing the progression of a slab leak.
If you hear trickling or rushing that seems to come from under your concrete floor, try to narrow down the source of the sound as much as possible. Your plumber will start the leak detection process where the sound is loudest.
2. Sudden Changes in Water Flow
Because slab leaks affect the main water lines in your home, these leaks can have a sudden and substantial effect on your plumbing system. You may notice lower water pressure and higher bills as a result.
You may also notice higher electric or gas bill and longer periods of time spent running your hot water heater as the unit attempts to compensate for the loss of water and heat caused by the slab leak.
3. Flooring Damage
While a concrete slab mostly hides water intrusion, you will likely have some water begin to come through, especially as the leak progresses. Once the leak progresses to this point, the water may begin to crack tile, warp hardwood or laminate, and encourage mold growth in carpet.
4. Hot Spots on Concrete Floors
Concrete slabs are notoriously chilly to the touch. However, water flow from a slab leak can raise the temperature under a slab in localized areas. If you walk across the floor on the lowest level of your home and feel one or more hot spots, you likely have a slab leak.
5. Slab Shifts
One of the most significant dangers of slab leaks is the potential shifting that occurs in your concrete foundation and, by extension, the rest of your home. If you notice shifting over time, call a plumber and a foundation expert. Signs of a shift include sloped floors, doors that don’t open or close smoothly, and cracked baseboards.
6. Unpleasant Odors
When leaks are left unaddressed, the moisture can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. You may see this unwanted organic growth, but you may catch a whiff of the mold before it becomes visible. Odors associated with slab leaks include mustiness, dampness, and earthiness.
7. Water Pooling on Lowest Level
If you haven’t laid flooring on the lowest level of your home, you may not have the early warning of flooring damage. In this case, any water that comes up around the slab or through cracks in the concrete will likely pool in visible puddles on the floor.
If you notice any combination of the warning signs of slab leaks listed above, call a reputable plumber to assess the issue as soon as possible.
For complete leak detection and repair services, including slab leak repairs, trust the experienced team at Rakeman Plumbing.