How to tell if you have a slab leak

crack water leak

What causes a leak in the slab?

Before we discuss how to tell if you have a slab leak and what a slab leak detection is, let’s explain what a slab leak for those is that those that may not understand.  The slab is what they build your home on, the concrete foundation. The home builder will run sewer and water lines before they pour the slab. 

Over time, those lines will deteriorate, break or leak, and that is what results in a slab leak.  Slab leaks also result from a chemical reaction between the metal and the soil or faulty installation.  Many times, it is the soil shifting under the slab, a common problem in this part of the southern part of the United States.

How serious is a slab leak?

A slab leak may start out as a minor matter, but left unattended, it can cause serious problems inside and outside of your home.  Often, before a homeowner realizes they have a slab leak, they have paid for it financially through higher electric and water bills. If you realize you have unexplained higher utilities, a professional slab leak detection can be an enormous help. When a slab leak is left unattended, the following issues can happen:

  • Carpeting and flooring ruined: When water has been seeping through the floor, it will begin to weaken the flooring, cracking tile, saturating the floors, and soaking the carpeting.
  • Musty odor: A slab leak left unattended will create musty odor into your home. If the slab leak is from the sewer line, your home will overtake by the smell of raw sewage.
  • Mold growth. As the water seeps into your home from the foundation, the drywall and wood frame will absorb that water where it will grow mold and other bacteria. These growths are harmful to the health of you and your family, even the family pets. 

Now that you know what can happen inside your home from without slab leak detection or repair, let’s review what happens in the exterior.

  • Foundation damage:  Where slab leak detection isn’t used, it compromises the structural integrity as it weakens the concrete and steel supports. Eventually, the slab leak and water pressure will cause the foundation to shift, can could lead to a cracked or collapsed foundation.
  • Yard damage:  Sometimes a slab leak comes from pipes that run underground through your yard. This will rot the grass and ruin your landscaping. Any brick or concrete driveways, paths, or walkways will crack, and swimming pools can crack. 

How do you find a leak under a slab?

Well, if you aren’t fortunate enough to have slab leak detection equipment, there are some slab leak signs that are a hint of potential slab leak. Here is how to spot a slab leak:

  • Damp spots in the floor: Leaking water lines will create damp spots on the floor and if the leak is from the water heater, the spots will be warm. Best slab leak detection you can have is walk around bare-footed. 
  • Sound of rushing water: If you hear water rushing underneath the flooring, you don’t need any slab leak detection equipment to know you have a slab leak. 
  • Water bill increase:  A broken water line allows water to run continuously and that will raise your water bill. If you’ve noticed that your water bill jumped up a large amount from one month to the next, you need a plumber with slab leak detection equipment and experience. 

A sewer line slab leak is more challenging to detect and will go unnoticed until the damage is severe. One of the most visible signs that you have a slab leak is if portions of your flooring are buckling. This would mean your slab is heaving from a water leak. 

How does slab leak detection work? 

There are elusive slab leaks that can only be found with slab leak detection equipment and slab leak testing with specific methods and a variety of equipment used for slab leak detection and tracing, such as static pressure testing, camera pipe inspection, and sonar. Another slab leak detection used by plumbers today is helium detection equipment. The water is turned off and the air is pumped into the lines. The air forces any water still in the lines to come out where the slab leaks may be.  These slab leak detection methods give a plumber a more exact sign where the leak is within the slab so they can go right to the problem. In years past, it required the plumber jack hammering a home’s slab until they found the leak. 

Slab foundation

How much does slab leak detection cost? 

As with anything, pricing can vary from house to house, region to region. A city plumber may charge more for a slab leak detection in town than a rural plumber would for a house out in the country.  Because they will have to work with concrete (the slab), they will need to use any of the equipment we’ve mentioned here, and the process is sometimes time consuming, depending on the size of the house. 

Typically, the rates in this are start around $150 and can reach $400 or more. Some plumbers charge by the job, others by the hour.  You want to verify this pricing before they do the work so there aren’t any more surprises than the slab leak.  When it comes to repairing the leak, you can expect that cost to start around $2,000 and go up from there. 

There are many things that you need to be aware of as a homeowner, and slab leaks are one of them. To protect your home, be aware of the indications we’ve discussed here and once you have any suspicions of a slab leak, call a qualified plumber with slab leak detection equipment and experience. Call (817) 283-0183 today for slab leak detection in Bedford, TX.