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Slab Leakage: What Causes It and How to Fix It

The water beneath your home may leak through the concrete slabs. There are ways to notice this in time and fix it.

Crack in slab foundation

Slab leaks, a common issue in homes built on concrete slab foundations, occur when water escapes from pipes beneath the slab and seeps into the basement through foundation cracks. Understanding the causes of slab leaks is crucial for early detection and effective repair. 

This article will provide insights into the common causes of slab leaks and offer practical solutions to address them, helping you protect your home from potential damage and avoid costly repairs.

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Cracked foundation

What Causes Slab Leakage?

There are a few different causes of slab leakage but the basic reason behind them is always the same: water has entered the slab beneath your home and over time it’s reached the living quarters by going through the cracks in the slab. 

Homes that were built before the 1980s have a great chance of having slab leaks. That’s because the building codes back then didn’t require any moisture barrier between the soil and the slab.

For newer homes, this isn’t a common problem, since they are built with moisture barriers installed. When slab leaks happen in a home built after the 80s, it’s usually because of a problem with the pipes, rather than drainage.

Knowing the exact reason behind the leak may help you resolve the issue faster.

Water Pipe Problems

All pipes expand and contract with changing temperatures. This is more often the case with the pipes that carry hot water because they are affected by the change in temperature from both within and outside the pipe. When the pipes burst or become unhinged, water may enter the slab.

The installation process includes wrapping the pipes in a protective layer to avoid this very problem. However, over time, this wrapping wears out and tears and that’s where water can leak into the slab and home.

Earth Settling

The earth may shift and settle beneath the concrete slab foundation. This is similar to what happens during an earthquake, but it happens gradually and over a long period of time. The shifting can cause the ground to put additional pressure on the pipes, making them leak or even burst.

That water will find its way through the concrete slab foundation and into the residence as well.

Chemical Reactions

Water pipes are usually made out of copper. This metal can react to other elements in the soil, mostly minerals and that may cause them to decompose over time. The process where this happens is known as electrolysis. This is also affected by the heat of the water going through the pipe.

Pipes that carry hot water usually corrode from the outside; pipes that carry cold water do the opposite. Either way, after a while the water will start to leak from the pipes into the concrete slab.

Weak Water Lines

Water pipes are laid underground and the pressure that the slab puts on them may end up damaging them and causing small cracks and nicks. These problems may not cause leaks right away, but over time, the pipes may weaken and burst.

How Can You Tell That You Have a Slab Leak?

When concrete slab leaks become a serious problem, you’ll notice the water coming into your basement, but that’s a bit late to do something about the leak. There are, however, a few signs that you should be on the lookout for other than the water itself.

High Water Bills

If the water is being spent and isn’t used in your household, it will register on your water bill. If your water bills are a bit higher than usual and you’re not spending more water, it’s possible that there are already some leaks below your home.

Keep track of your monthly spending and the price of water in your area to make sure that you’re not just using more water and that the bill isn’t a false alarm.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are often caused by excess moisture in your home. They thrive in dark and moist environments like basements and especially ones that are leaking water. Inspect your basement every now and then and you’ll be alarmed of leaks on time.

Check Your Pipes

The simplest way to find leaks is to check the pipes that may be leaking. For the most part, that means all pipes that you can get to because every pipe, no matter how well installed, may burst or leak at some point. Take the time to examine the water flow and to make sure there are no noticeable cracks. It’s best to do this seasonally since the temperature is most likely to cause the problem in the first place.

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Protect Your Home’s Foundation with Groundworks

After addressing the plumbing issue with a qualified plumber, the next crucial step is ensuring your home’s foundation remains secure and intact. That’s where Groundworks steps in as your trusted foundation repair partner. Our team of skilled professionals specializes in comprehensive foundation solutions tailored to your specific needs.

Opting to reroute your plumbing above ground might prevent immediate damage, but it doesn’t address potential foundation concerns caused by previous leaks. This is where our expertise becomes invaluable. Groundworks offers a range of solutions, from minor repairs to extensive foundation restorations, ensuring your home’s stability and longevity.

If your situation requires more intensive intervention, such as excavating to access and repair foundation damage, Groundworks is equipped to handle it efficiently and effectively. Our advanced techniques minimize disruption while maximizing results, ensuring a solid foundation for your home.

Don’t wait until minor leaks become major headaches. Contact Groundworks today for a comprehensive evaluation of your foundation. Our expert team is ready to provide you with the best solutions, guaranteeing peace of mind and the safety of your home. Trust Groundworks, the foundation experts, to secure your home’s future. Call us now to schedule your free foundation inspection.