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Seven Common Signs of a Slab Leak

Rain drops on a black umbrella
January 22, 2018

Leaks can happen at any time, and usually can be fixed by calling in a plumber. Some leaks, however, are difficult to detect and even more so to access. If your house is built on a concrete slab foundation, it could be prone. Unlike other leaks that happen within the plumbing inside your house, a slab leak happens underneath the heavy concrete foundation of your home. Any leak can be problematic, but it’s crucial to a catch it early, as it’s not only difficult to access the leak, but there’s water leaking into your foundation.

How to Spot a Slab Leak Early

A leak left undetected can significantly damage your home over time, damaging the foundation, rotting wood, and growing mold. Unfortunately, since the plumbing beneath your foundation is buried underground and concrete, it’s difficult to detect any potential problems before they happen. If you catch a leak early enough, however, you can spare yourself some expensive damages. Luckily there are plenty of warning signs for a slab leak.

  • Hot floor spots. If you consistently feel a hot spot on your floor, there could be a hot water line leak. Hot floor spots will only happen if there is a busted hot water line. If not, you’ll need to watch for other warning signs of a leak.
  • Wet floors. Any leak should be repaired as soon as possible, but pools of water indicate that there’s not only a leak, but there’s enough water to get through the walls and floor. If your floor is consistently wet, you could be dealing with a slab leak.
  • Backed up water fixtures. If your toilets, sinks, and bathtub stop working, there could be a break somewhere in your water line. There can be several reasons for a backed up water fixture, so make sure to check for other signs of a leak.
  • Cracked or moving foundation. Water can cause a great deal of damage to your home, creating cracks in the foundation and walls. If you find any cracks or movement in your foundation, the culprit could be a slab leak.
  • Musty odors. Mold grows from excessive moisture. If you smell something musty, especially in a particular area of your home, it could be mold. Mold is toxic to your health, and you usually smell mold before you see it. If you smell mold, call a plumber immediately.
  • Higher water bills. Leaky plumbing results in you paying for water wasted. Some leaks can be harder to detect than others, but if your home has a leak, you’ll definitely notice a difference in your water bills.
  • The sound of running water. Unless a water fixture is in use, you shouldn’t hear the sound of running water. If, however, you start to constantly hear the sound of running water, there could be a leak somewhere in your house. If you can’t detect where the sound of running water is coming from, you could have a slab leak.

How to Prevent a Slab Leak

There are multiple causes for a slab leak, and some of them are much more difficult to prevent. The soil below your home’s foundation may have shifted, causing it to crack. A water line could have been nicked by accident while being installed. Your underground pipes could also be corroding due to the chemicals in the soil. Some reasons may be out of your control. What you can do to prevent slab leaks is properly maintain your plumbing. The better maintained your plumbing is, the less likely a leak will occur somewhere inside or outside your house. Here’s what you can do to prevent this from happening: 

  • Frequently clean your drains. Like leaks, clogged drains are another common plumbing problem that if left untreated, can eventually result in cracked or busted pipes due to the water pressure. Most clogs can be easily prevented with routine cleaning. Use drain strainers to catch food waste, hair, and soap scum, and avoid flushing things that shouldn’t go down the drain.
  • Avoid chemical cleaners. Although they can be a quick fix for stubborn clogs, chemical drain cleaners are very damaging to your plumbing. The chemicals in drain cleaners are toxic for your health and eat away at your pipes over time. There are chemical-free cleaners for your drain such as dishwasher detergent, vinegar, and baking soda.
  • Limit your home’s water pressure. High water pressure can be a nice luxury, but too much water pressure can wear down your plumbing. You can monitor your home’s water pressure by installing a water pressure gauge, which can be found at any local hardware store. Your home’s water pressure should read somewhere between 40-65 psi if the measuring exceeds that amount, you’ll want to adjust the water pressure.
  • Invest in a water softener. If you don’t have a water softener, you’ll want to consider installing one for the sake of your plumbing. Depending on where you live, your home may be running on water full of minerals that can erode your pipes and water appliances. A water softener removes the minerals that are harmful to your plumbing.
  • Maintain your water appliances. Preventing a slab problem involves more than just maintaining your plumbing, but your water appliances as well. Make sure to schedule annual tune-ups for your sump pump, water heater, and washer.