Fixing Slab Leaks: Fort Worth Plumbers Staggs Plumbing
It’s a common problem across all of the DFW metroplex that all homeowners will come to hear about, maybe even get to experience first hand. Because of the high clay content in the soil, the concrete slab upon which your home is built will move up and down due to our extreme weather patterns. All houses will experience this, so it stands to reason that the older houses will have experienced more of these unwanted foundation expansion and contraction events. Houses that are only a few years old could potentially experience foundation movement and thus be set up for having water leaks under the foundation.
Water Pipes and your Home’s Foundation
Typically, the water utility company of Fort Worth will run cold water lines in from the street side of the house, underground where is separates out into lines for the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry and outside spigots.
In order to plumb fixtures like sinks, toilets and showers, the water lines (usually made of copper or PVC) run up through the concrete slab. If you ever drive by a house that is being built, you’ll notice that the water lines are run through a framed box that will become the foundation. When the foundation is poured, the concrete encases the water pipes. Since there is no way for the water pipes to slide within the foundation, any movement due to soil expansion and contraction will also happen to the water pipes.
What Causes Water to Leak from Under the House?
The soil in and around Fort Worth contains a large amount of clay. You know this whenever you do any gardening work and find the soil thick and hard to dig through. Clay is a very porous material, meaning that it can soak up a lot of water, retain it and subsequently expand – much like a sponge. Refer to this article from geology.com for further research.
During our hot summers, when little rain is in the forecast and temperatures are in the 80’s, 90’s or even 100’s, water is lost from the clay and evaporates through the soil and into the air.
When the water evaporates out of the clay, the soil will shrink.
It is this process of expansion and shrinking that lifts or drops the foundation of a home. While the foundation moves, the pipes that go through the concrete slab do not. This constant friction and movement will eventually cause a break in a water or sewer line.
How to Tell if you have a Water Leak under the Slab
Check to make sure that:
- All of the faucets turned off and not dripping
- Washing machines are not running
- Toilets are not running
- Outside faucets are turned off
Remove the water meter cover and look at the dial. It might be covered in dirt, so wipe it off and take a good look at the dial. If you see any movement, then you’ll want to call the leak specialists at Staggs Plumbing. Even if it’s not being caused by a leak under the slab, you may have a leak coming from a pipe inside a wall, which can cause a multitude of issues.
Water Leaks Mean Wasted Money
Even if a leaking pipe under your home does not cause damage to the inside of your home, it is still going to cost you money in terms of wasted water. Much like a leaky faucet or leaky toilet, you will want to get this taken care of as soon as possible.
Repairing a Water Leak under your Home
The leak has to first be found before it can be repaired. Staggs Plumbing uses state of the art equipment to locate the source of the leak underneath the slab which can be several inches thick.
The leak can be repaired one of two ways:
- Repair from inside the house (this can create some mess during the process)
- Dig a hole through the foundation of the house, usually with a jackhammer.
- Locate the broken pipe.
- Fix the pipe
- Fill the hole back with dirt and new concrete.
- Repair from underneath
- Tunnel under the foundation from the perimeter of the house until you reach the break in the water line.
- Locate the broken pipe.
- Fix the pipe
- Fill the hole.
While both methods are effective, going in from inside of the house may create dust and we’ll have to move furniture for access. While we strive to keep this area as clean as possible, please bear in mind we’re breaking through reinforced concrete.
Tunnels, on the other hand, are less intrusive and create no mess inside your home. Since this method is more labor intensive, the end cost may be more than going through the concrete from inside the house.
Your homeowner’s insurance normally covers the locating and excavating activities, which means that the actual fix (which is quick and relatively inexpensive) will come out of your pocket. Check with your insurance agent to see what is covered.
When choosing a plumber in Fort Worth, be sure to check the reviews and references.
Most of the time, the hot and cold water lines run through and below the concrete slab, as do the sewer lines. Should one of the sewer lines break because of stress from the concrete movement, sewage could seep out and up into your home or into your yard.
If you start to notice a foul odor around an area, and possibly damp patches, there is a chance you have a break in the sewer line cause by the concrete slab moving around the pipes.
If you also notice a section of the floor that bulges up, that is a sure sign that something is leaking beneath your home and needs to be taken care of. Staggs Plumbing is your neighbors’ plumber of choice when it comes to fixing sewer line breaks under the foundation of your house.
Preventing a Slab Leak
Hot Texas Summers with no Rain
North Texas has an average rainfall of over 31 inches, however, in both 2011 and 2014, we experienced drought conditions with annual rainfalls in the low 20 inches. Some of the hot summer months saw just traces of rain, which meant that the soil under your house was subject to water evaporation and thus shrinking of the clay.
Savvy homeowners knew to lay soaker hoses around the perimeter of their home in order to maintain a degree of soil moisture. It may not stop the soil from shrinking, but it would have minimized the effects.
Soaker hoses from your local home improvement store are relatively inexpensive and may prevent any serious damage to your foundation.
These are relatively inexpensive items that can be purchased from most home improvement stores. You attach them to an outdoor spigot and run them manually or on a timer.
You will want to lay them a few inches away from the sides of the house and around as much of the house that can be reached.
Water runs through them and out through tiny holes. These drops of water then soak into the soil rather than evaporate off into the air. This slow but steady flow of water ensures as much water as possible will be soaked up into the soil and prevent it from drying out.
Be careful not to over saturate the ground around your house because this may cause unwanted soil expansion.
Excessive Water Pressure
If the water pressure coming into your home is too high, the extra pressure will cause stress on the pipe connections. Residential water pressure tends to range between 45 and 80 psi (pounds per square inch). If it’s much higher than this range, your home is at risk of burst water pipes. Whenever you call out a plumber, have them check to see if the water pressure is within an acceptable range. If it’s too high, they can normally add a pressure reducing valve.
You can also contact the city utilities office and see if they can reduce the pressure. They may not be able to do anything about it as they need to supply adequate pressure to all of your neighbors a few blocks away.
Selling your Fort Worth Home
Home prices have skyrocketed over the past several years, which makes selling your home an attractive proposition. However, savvy buyers will bring in a foundation engineer who will assess the health of a home’s foundation. Knowing that a slab leak repair can cost up to $10,000 or more, the new homeowner will not want to be on the hook for this type of repair. If the home inspector brings up foundation issues in their report, the buyer will likely negotiate the selling price down.
There are two things that you can do:
- Have a professional foundation assessment performed by a qualified plumber such as Staggs Plumbing or even a dedicated foundation engineer. If there are no issues, you can use this at the negotiating table.
- Or you could have the repair fixed. Many homeowner policies cover the detection and repair (of the foundation), and you will have to come up with the insurance deductible – this will certainly be less than the prospective buyer asking for a $10,000 reduction in price!
Facts about Fort Worth TX
Fort Worth is located at 32.7555° N, 97.3308° W
Fort Worth is a city in Tarrant County in the U.S. state of Texas. It is one of the largest cities in Texas with a population in excess of 850,000, and is also the 16th most populated city in the USA. It sits approx 170m above sea level. It was founded in the middle of the 19th century as an army outpost near the Trinity river. The US Navy named one of its ships after the city.
Useful city Links
If you fancy a few rounds of golf, you may want to consider joining the Rockwood Golf Club. They cater to both the dedicated enthusiasts and those just picking up the game. With novice-friendly tee boxes, they are quite forgiving. Serious players will find that a 3 1/2 – 4 hour round is not uncommon.
Utility/water department If you want to pay your water bill, make changes or report issues with the city sewers or leaks from city-owned assets, please visit the link above.
The Forth Worth Chamber of Commerce is a central hub for local businesses looking to network and grow their business. Their website can be found at https://www.fortworthchamber.com/ and are open M-F 8am-5pm. Their address is 777 Taylor St STE 900, Fort Worth, TX 76102.
A Brief Look at Forth Worth’s History
Established as an army outpost in 1849, Fort Worth, Texas, is known as “Cowtown” for its cattle drive history. Located along the Trinity River where millions of cattle were herded on the Chisholm Trail, Fort Worth calls itself the “place where the West begins.”
On June 6, 1849, Mexican-American War hero General William Jenkins Worth, established a camp on the bank of the Trinity River to protect settlers from Native Americans, and the fort became his namesake. In August 1849, Major Ripley S. Arnold was ordered to move Camp Worth to the north-facing bluff which overlooked the mouth of the Clear Fork. The United States War Department officially named the post Fort Worth on November 14, 1849.
Because of its proximity to the Chisholm Trail and convenience to Midwestern markets, transportation and communication played a key role in Fort Worth’s growth. The Yuma Stage Line made Fort Worth its eastern terminus for Yuma, Arizona, and the Texas and Pacific Railway made the town its eastern terminus for San Diego, California, during the 1870s. When the Pacific Railway connected to Fort Worth in 1876, the Fort Worth Stockyards were transformed into a prized livestock center.
During the wild era of cattle drives that passed through Fort Worth, gambling parlors, saloons, and bakeries sprang up around town and became known as “Hell’s Half Acre.” The city continues to celebrate its wild west heritage and is currently referred to as “Funkytown” by urbanites from neighboring Dallas.
Fort Worth Weather
Updated January 10th, 2018