Do You Have a Leak Under the Foundation of Your Garland Home?
When water leaks force their way up into the home through the concrete slab, plumbers commonly refer to this as a slab leak, and if not addressed in a timely manner, can cost you several thousands of dollars in damage to your home.
The terms “slab” and “foundation” mean the same for purposes of this article – your home likely rests on a concrete foundation.
This type of problem is quite common in Garland because of two major factors:
- The soil has a heavy clay content, which tends to expand and shrink depending on how much water is in the soil.
- Extremes of weather, especially the long hot Texas summers which tend to dry out the soil.
Think of the soil under your home like a sponge. When it’s very wet, the sponge expands. If you leave it out in the heat, it dries up and shrinks. The same thing happens with the soil under your house. It only needs the smallest of movements to compromise the integrity of the underground water pipes.
We normally see this type of problem in older homes. However, we’ve also seen this in newer homes due to poor workmanship and poor drainage around the home’s perimeter.
What Type of Foundation Does Your Home Have?
This is a common method used to create a foundation. It is essentially a big square of rebar-reinforced concrete. Your home builder created a wooden frame in which to pour the concrete. Before pouring the concrete, they ran hundreds of feet of pipes for:
- The cold water supply coming from the city
- Hot water coming from your hot water heater
- Sewer lines running back out to the street for disposal by the City of Garland
Pier and Beam
Your home is supported by wooden or concrete beams and posts. This makes maintaining and repairing pipes, wires and insulation much easier than if your house is built on a slab. However, it also means that your home is usually more expensive to heat and cool, since air can move easily beneath your floor.
How Can I Tell if There is a Slab Leak?
If you see signs of a potential water leak under your floor, you should take immediate action. Even if it’s a minor issue, you won’t know until you call an expert out to take a look.
Here are some of the more common signs that you could have a leak under the foundation of your house:
- Check the water meter out by the street. There is usually a leak indicator that moves (sometimes very slowly) when the water is being run. If you see movement in this dial and you know that all faucets are off and nobody is using any water, there is a leak somewhere. It might be as simple as a toilet flapper problem which is a simple and inexpensive problem to fix. In either case, you should call a plumber as soon as possible.
- If you feel a warm spot on the floor, that is a possible indication of a ruptured hot water heater pipe. It will probably feel damp as well.
- Sounds of the hot water heater running, long after showers, dishwashers or washers have been used might be a sign of an issue that needs to be investigated.
- If you detect a moldy or mildew smell down on the floor, that is a sign that something is wrong – either a broken water pipe, a roof leak or some other structural issue causing water to enter the house.
- Check all rooms on a frequent basis. When this occurs in an area of your home that is seldom used, such as an infrequently accessed storage room, closet or basement, the problem can go undetected for some time.
- Look for cracks in floors and walls. This could be an expected sign of a foundation that is settling, which is quite normal. However, it might be a sign of larger issues. The best course of action is to call out Staggs plumbing and have us inspect for any damage.
Causes of Leaks Under the Foundation
In the north Texas area, homes are commonly built on a reinforced concrete slab. (“slab” refers to the concrete pad on which your your house was built) This is popular method of construction:
- Never having to worry about a squeaky floor
- Homes are close to grade which means few steps at the entry or exit points, which is a benefit to the elderly and handicapped.
- Easier to insulate (no need for under-floor insulation), which prevents heat loss through the ground, unlike pier-and-beam foundations.
- Very durable, not prone to termites or wood rot.
However, these benefits come with a potential problem, courtesy of Mother Nature – soil and weather.
North Texas soil is very absorbent due to its very high clay content. Clay absorbs water easily, which causes it to expand. When we have periods of heavy rainfall or high humidity, the ground underneath your home absorbs a lot of water. This soaked soil may push upwards against your slab, as it has nowhere else to go.
In the dry, hot summer, the water-soaked clay starts to dry out. As it dries, it shrinks, and as a result, your home’s foundation moves lower.
This constant movement up and down puts a lot of pressure pressure on the plumbing lines which run underneath and through your foundation. This movement causes pipes to weaken over time.
If there are rough edges to the underside of the slab, the slightest rubbing against a nearby pipe, over time, will cause a leak.
Locating and Fixing a Slab Leak
Repairing a leak from under your home’s foundation is generally needed in your Dallas home because of a problem in one of three common plumbing lines:
- Drain and sewer lines
- Pipes that supply your home with cold water
- Lines running from your hot water heater
A veteran Dallas plumber like Staggs Plumbing knows where to look to quickly spot a leak that was caused by slab movement. Your sewer and drain lines remove waste from your bathrooms, washing machines and kitchen. Water heater lines move hot water from your water heater to different spots throughout your home. In many cases, these lines run under your slab. Cold water supply lines run into your home from the street, and may also run under your slab.
Because these leaks occur underground, often under the slab beneath your home, you can be losing water for some time before you spot a problem. Which means that now you know basically where slab leaks usually occur, you still need to know …
How to Spot a Slab Leak
Depending on your unique situation, there could be any number of reasons you need to enlist the aid of a slab leak repair specialist. Listed below are just a few of the more common signs that you could have a leak under your slab, or in the foundation of your home.
- Does your water heater run when no hot water is being used? This is a sign that you could have a foundation leak. After using a lot of hot water, your water heater will run momentarily to fill the empty pipes. However, it should not be running constantly.
- If you can watch your water meter moving, and no water is being used, there could be a leak somewhere. It may or may not be a slab leak, and in any case, you should call a plumber as soon as possible.
- A warm spot on your floor could be an indication that a hot water heater supply line has burst.
- Damp areas and moldy smells on carpeting and flooring are obvious signs that there’s a problem. When this occurs in an area of your home that is seldom used, such as an infrequently accessed storage room, closet or basement, the problem can go undetected for some time.
- If you periodically hear water running through pipes when no water is being used, this could be an indication that you need a slab leak repaired.
- Cracks in your floors and walls could be due to your home’s foundation settling. These could also could be telltale signs of a slab leak.
Slab Leak Repair – Finding and Fixing the Problem
Plumbers use sensitive listening devices to “hear” air flowing from your leaky pipe. How does air get into your water pipes? Here’s what happens when you call one of our experienced plumbers to determine if you have a problem. The water supply to your house is shut off. Air is forced into your lines to remove any standing water. Then the plumber can track down the exact location of the leaky pipe, as air flows out of the break in the pipe.
If your plumber is not using the right type of equipment to locate the specific area of the leak, you can end up overpaying to solve your problem.
Be sure you are using a Dallas, TX plumber experienced in slab leak repair. If the plumber you use can’t effectively pinpoint the exact location of the leak, you may have to have a larger area of slab dug up than is necessary. This could also lead to extensive tunneling under your foundation, more than is needed to solve the problem. Both of these situations mean unnecessary money being spent.
The better your plumber is at finding the leak in your slab foundation, the less money you’re going to spend. Which brings up the question …
How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Slab Leak?
Unfortunately, that is like asking how much it will cost to get your car repaired. The answer depends on a lot of variables. There is just no way to answer this question without an on-site examination. As mentioned above, you may have something that looks like a slab leak, but isn’t. Once a leak in your foundation is detected, your plumber will either tunnel under your slab, or dig up part of it.
Pipes can be made of PVC or copper, and in some older Dallas homes, different types of iron. If the break in your water line is easy to access, you are looking at a less expensive repair. If you have multiple leaks, and they are hard to reach, or large sections of your pipes are degraded and faulty, you are looking at more of an investment.
The only way to figure a slab leak repair cost is to have us come out and take a look.
Will My Insurance Pay for Slab Leak Repair?
The good news is, your slab leak repair could fall under the umbrella of your homeowners insurance. This means you simply pay whatever deductible your policy requires. In some cases, depending on your policy, you will also be required to pay for pipe repairs. But most of the cost (tunneling, excavation, leak detection, etc.), is often covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. A pipe repair by itself usually runs a few hundred dollars.
You should by all means call your insurance agent to find out if you are covered or not. However, the first thing you need to do is pick up the phone and schedule an appointment so we can tell you exactly what you’re dealing with. We can provide referrals from your friends and neighbors in Plano, north Dallas, Richardson and Garland. Staggs Plumbing has extensive experience in repairing slab leaks.
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Regardless of your plumbing needs, Staggs Plumbing will be proud to count you as another happy client. So give us a call at (469) 998-8950, where we supply expert Dallas plumbing repairs at friendly prices.