Do You Have a Slab Leak? 8 Signs You Do
Slab leaks are a common enough occurrence mainly because almost every structure in Southwest Florida is on one. Statistically speaking, you have a pretty good chance of having one in your lifetime. Slab leaks are a problem on their own. But they create many other problems down the line when they are not treated. Learning how to spot the signs can help you detect a slab leak before it is a significant issue.
We will look at all the ins and out of slab leaks. By the end of this blog, you will know what a slab is. You will also know how to tell if it is leaking and why it’s happening. Finally, you will learn who to contact to fix it.
What is a slab?
A slab is a concrete foundation underneath your home or commercial building. It provides the base structure and support for your home. Not every building or home has a concrete foundation. Some have crawl space and wooden foundations to support the structure.
Slabs are common in Southwest Florida because they are better suited for our climate. As we all know, it rains quite a bit here in the Sunshine State. We have an entire season dedicated to rain. This is why concrete slab foundations are common here. There is usually a layer of sand under concrete slabs. This is to help create better drainage around your home. It also prevents water from pooling under your foundation. The sand also allows for some cushion between your slab and the ground.
Signs your slab is leaking
Slab leaks happen underneath your feet. They are silent, so often, you do not even know it’s happening. Over time, a slab leak becomes apparent when a few telltale signs show up. Water damage caused by slab leaks can be devastating. Do not let an underground problem claw its way up to the top.
Below is a list of the most common signs your slab is leaking. Know the signs so you can get ahead of the problem.
- Warped, buckled, or separated floorboards: are your beautiful hardwood floors buckling? Did your tiles suddenly start cracking with no explanation? These are both signs of excess moisture under your floor. Your hardwood or tile floors absorb the moisture from the leak below. The extra moisture causes them to change shape or even break.
- An increase in your water bill: Has your water bill recently spiked? A sudden increase in your water bill when you aren’t using more water is a big red flag. This means you are unknowingly using water, somewhere. Most likely, the culprit is an undetected leak. iMold offers free leak detection to help you discover the source of the problem.
- Damp or wet carpet: Same as the floorboards, carpet absorbs the moisture from the slab leak below. This moisture wicks up into your carpet, making it a small swimming pool for ants.
- Random hot spots on the floor: slab leaks can cause hot spots. This is because slab leaks come from the pipes underground. A hot water pipe may be the cause of your leak. Your pets may notice a hot spot before you do. Has your cat been randomly lying in a particular spot on the floor lately? It may be worth it just to put your hand on the floor there to test for warmth. Some hot spots are only detectable with thermal imaging cameras used by plumbers.
Additional signs to look for
- Mold or mildew: you may see or smell mold or mildew. Southwest Florida is a hot spot for mold as it is. When you add unwanted water into the mix, all you are doing is creating the perfect environment for mold to grow. If you are smelling mold, but it is not visible, you may have a slab leak.
- Your hot water heater is always running: a hot water pipe may be causing your leak. If the slab leak is happening over that hot water pipe, it will cause your hot water heater to run more than it has to.
- A decrease in water pressure: is the shampoo extra hard to rinse out lately? A slab leak will suck the pressure right out of your shower. This is because the water in your pipes is flowing freely through the leak. Nothing is stopping the flow to create pressure.
- A puddle of water: sometimes the water wicking up from your leak is so severe you get puddles. Puddles of water inside without an obvious source are a sure sign of a slab leak.
A Quick Slab Leak Test
Have these signs but still aren’t convinced? Turn off every faucet and water source in your space. Make sure there is absolutely no running water in your home or pipes. Go outside, or wherever your water meter is, and watch it. Stay and observe your meter for at least 5-10 minutes. It will register even the smallest amount of water usage. If the arrow on the meter shows water usage, wait one minute. Something small like the ice maker in your fridge may be filling up. If after a minute has passed and the arrow still shows water usage, you have a leak.
What causes slab leaks?
The pipes and sewage lines to your home are underneath your slab. Most of these pipes are along the edges of your slab. Different environmental changes may cause your slab to rise and fall. This movement creates a strain on metal and PVC pipes. Eventually, the constant rise and fall cause stress cracks in your pipes or even the slab itself. This is the source of your leak.
Many newer homes have flexible water pipes called PEX. These pipes are less likely to break and cause leaks. Most sewage lines still use hard, PVC pipes. This has a higher chance of breaking.
The longer a slab leak is not treated, the worse it becomes. A broken slab allows the ground underneath to rise into the cracks. This creates more pressure on the break. Increased pressured causes the break to get much worse and to break faster.
How to fix your slab leak
The first step to fixing any slab leak is identifying the problem. Call iMold to confirm that your slab is leaking. We will help you find where your water line is and help you turn it off. This will stop the leak from continuing to create damage. We can also help you with mitigating any water damage from the leak. Wet carpets, drywall, or floors can breed mold extremely quickly in Southwest Florida. If your slab leak has also brought you mold, iMold can remediate all affected areas.
iMold does not fix broken pipes or cracked concrete. If you have a slab leak, you need both a plumber and a contractor or concrete company. A plumber starts by confirming the location of the leak. They will often run air through your pipes to find leaks. The plumber fixes any broken pipes. They will also replace any pipes beyond repair. To repair the actual slab after the leak is gone, you will need someone to re-lay concrete.
To prep for fixing your slab leak, remove all furniture from the area above the leak. This will help make the process go a little smoother.
For more information on slab leaks and how iMold can help, call us at (877) 771-1699. Schedule your free leak detection today! We also offer 24/7 emergency services for floods and leaks.