When it comes to plumbing issues, likely the most costly and potentially hazardous one is none other than a slab leak.
So just what is a slab leak? Slab leaks are when water lines running underneath a slab foundation become damaged and begin to cause water leaks. Because they’re located underneath the slab – and not within the house or above the ground – they can be very difficult to repair. They can be even more difficult to diagnose, which is why it’s important to know the signs and causes of a slab leak.
Causes of a Slab Leak
First things first, you’re probably wondering what might cause a slab leak. There are a few key causes of a slab leak, including:
Ground shift: The foundation of a home settles over time. It’s only natural. After all, your home weighs a lot – it’s only fitting that the ground would have some sort of give over the years. As the ground shifts, there can be a tendency to put excess pressure on the water lines. Often, this excess stress can lead to damage.
Natural disasters: Similar to a ground shift, when an earthquake occurs, the pipes can also be left susceptible to damage.
Erosion: Nothing lasts forever these days, copper pipes included. In fact, such pipes aren’t immune to electrolysis, which occurs when minerals in the soil clash with the pipes, eventually eroding them.
Other causes: There are a few other notable causes of slab leaks, such as improper pipe installation or poor pipe wrapping.
Top Signs of a Slab Leak
Now that we’ve gone over some of the leading causes of slab leaks, you might be wondering what some of the common signs and symptoms of such a leak are. Here’s a closer look at when you know you might have a slab leak on your hands:
Damp carpet: Concrete is a porous material, so in time it’s going to soak up the water that is leaking from the pipes below the slab. After a while, this water will seep above the foundation and moisten the carpet (or other flooring types) that is installed on the slab. So if you notice that your carpets are oddly damp or wet, a slab leak could be the culprit. Have hardwood floors? If they’re warped, it may be because of a slab leak.
Mushy yard: Not all pipe leaks occur beneath the concrete slab of your home. Some, for instance, may leak beneath areas of your yard. Once again, the water has to go somewhere, and it’s likely to go up. So if parts of your yard are mushy, take notice.
Odd smell: Dampness can lead to mold if it’s not treated promptly, and one of the big telltale signs of mold is its smell. So if you pick up the scent of something musty or foul, a slab leak could be the cause.