How to detect a slab leak? First signs, common causes & repairs

Leaking Pipes in a bathroom

Dripping water is a headache for any homeowner, but when a leak is unnoticeable, it may become a threat to the entire construction and lead to more expensive repairs. Leaky pipes under the concrete foundation of your house are commonly called slab leaks.

Not always obvious, a slab leak leads to increased water bills, deteriorated construction elements, and mold infestation. Yet still, by being attentive to slab leak signs, you can settle a problem at the outset and hire pros to detect and repair the damaged pipe right away. But let’s take it step-by-step.

What Is a Slab Leak?

Briefly, a slab leak is a leakage in piping that runs under the concrete slab foundation. You can face just a tiny trickle, a serious crack, or even a burst pipe.  Any slab leak requires a professional to diagnose, detect a precise location, and fix it.  Do not attempt to try DIY solutions if you suspect a problem in your slab.

Is a slab leak dangerous?

Yes, slab leaks are dangerous and require your immediate attention. If you neglect a slab leak for a while, it can undermine the structural integrity of your house and lead to severe health disorders due to water pollution and mold growth. In fact, besides damaged carpeting, uneven flooring, nasty odor, wall or foundation cracks, and a higher utility bill, untreated massive slab leaks can be the reason for the house to shift.   

What does a slab leak look like?

Actually, all situations are different: you can hear water dripping or notice buckling floorboards. Decreased water pressure and warm spots on your flooring may also point to a potential slab leak, let alone puddles or pools on the flooring or cracked walls.

How common is a slab leak?

Slab leaks are considered pretty common for older constructions with concrete slabs. In fact, most homeowners in the US sooner or later have to deal with slab leaks. Unlike a leaky faucet, damaged slab piping requires a qualified plumber to detect and fix the problem.  

Important: To prevent significant damage from exhausted plumbing in your slab, pros recommend regular maintenance of the entire plumbing system yearly.  

What Causes a Slab Leak?

Usually, slab leaks are caused by one of the following factors or their combination:

  • Incorrectly built foundation.
  • Corrosion.
  • Age (The service life of any plumbing system is limited.)
  • Friction.
  • Earth movement.

How To Detect A Slab Leak: Signs of a Slab Leak

Located underneath a house, a slab space isn’t always in plain view, so you might be wondering how to find a slab leak. Watch out for meaningful signs indicative of a potential problem in your piping system. So, what are the signs of a slab leak?

  • Wet patches on flooring, walls, or carpets.
  • Musty odor. The unpleasant smell usually comes from high moisture content that affects various surfaces, including flooring and walls.    
  • Mold growth. When slab leaks are ignored for a prolonged period, damp and moist space becomes an ideal environment for mold growth. As nasty as mold is, the worst thing is it is very difficult to get rid of and requires mold remediation specialists.
  • An increased water bill. Yes, you pay for water that you don’t use; even worse, you pay for extra water that damages your home. The more you delay repairs, the more you will pay at the end (repair costs and restoration costs).
  • Lower water pressure.
  • A water meter runs when faucets aren’t in use.
  • The sound of running water.

Even if you notice one of the signs of a slab leak, you might suspect a problem, so the first thing you need to do is call pros who are fully equipped for slab leak detection and repair work execution.  

How long can a slab leak go undetected?

Slab leaks are nasty in that they can stay undetected for quite a while. Hence, it is vital to watch out for any minor signs pointing to potential leakage. When in doubt, contact a reliable plumber — while undetectable for a homeowner, slab leaks can be spotted by experienced staff.  

What to Do if You Have a Slab Leak

Whenever you suspect a slab leak, whether because of a mold smell, audible dripping, or a suddenly increased bill, the first thing to do is to shut off the water supply and contact a competent specialist or a company that provides emergency plumbing services.

Can a slab leak be fixed?

Definitely, yes. Actually, slab leak repair works are considered a frequently-encountered routine among professionals: plumbing has a limited service life even when top-grade materials are used, not to mention the secondary housing market. The Re-Store Services crew has the expertise and all the necessary equipment to manage a slab leak of any complexity.   

Slab leak repair options

Typically, pros implement one of the following slab leak repair options:

  • Rerouting pipes. A new pipeline is installed next to the leaking one.
  • Jackhammering. Pros open a concrete section that covers the damaged pipe, cut out the trouble-delivering piece, and install the new part.

Costs to repair a slab leak

As with most home repairs, the cost to repair a slab leak varies significantly and depends on a myriad of factors, including the precise leak location and its accessibility, the chosen repair method, the quality of materials, and the scale of the problem. The national average is somewhere around $2,000; yet still, the expenditures may be both lower and higher than the average given the details of your specific situation.  

Does Insurance cover slab leaks?

Actually, it depends. All cases are different, and homeowner insurance policies vary. Unfortunately, slab leaks aren’t covered in most cases. However, an insurance provider can cover expenditures if your case meets the following criteria:

  • The policy includes water damage coverage.
  • Your house IS damaged. In case of no damage, repair costs won’t be covered.
  • The damage happened suddenly. In case of continuously ignored leaks, your claim will be rejected.  

Note: Piping replacement costs aren’t usually covered by homeowner insurance. This is a weighty argument to have a slab leak addressed promptly, as delayed repairs might result in higher costs.

In conclusion

As devastating as a slab leak seems, the problem is resolvable — all you need is to be attentive to signs and call slab leak repair experts right away. San Diego (California) residents can look no further than Re-Store Services:

  • reputable & trustworthy (confirmed by many happy clients)
  • qualified & experienced
  • The fully licensed & certified crew provides emergency services, including slab leak detection and repair services.

Contact our damage restoration company whenever you stumble upon water damage in your home. The Re-Store Services team is available 24/7 to respond to emergencies. 

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