Does Your Dallas Home Have a Slab Leak?
Repairing a water leak under a slab is a common plumbing need around Dallas, TX area.
This is because many of the homes in Dallas and Collin county are subjected to very particular and cyclical weather patterns every year.
These annual weather events can create problems with your plumbing, depending on how your home was constructed.
You may live in a brand-new home. You may have had your home custom-built. There are residences in the Dallas area which are decades old.
No matter what type of home you live in, and whether it is old or new, its foundation was probably constructed one of two ways.
Odds are your house was either built on 1) a slab, or it sits on top of 2) an elevated crawlspace. A crawlspace provides just what the name implies, room enough to crawl under your house. 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.
In the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex area, most homes rest on a slab. This is a very common structural element in modern homes. The word slab refers to the concrete pad that your house was built on. This common type of residential foundation is popular for a lot of reasons. Slab construction means never having to worry about a squeaky floor, and slab homes are close to grade. This means most only require one or two steps at the entry or exit points, which is a benefit to the elderly and handicapped.
Unlike homes with a crawlspace, this type of construction is easier to insulate. This leads to lower heating and cooling bills, which is one of the many benefits of building a home on a concrete pad. Slab construction is also inexpensive and extremely durable, and you don’t have to worry about leaks rotting out a concrete slab foundation.
However, with that affordable durability comes a potential problem that has to do with two aspects of Mother Nature – soil and weather.
In the Dallas area and the rest of North Texas, the soil is very absorbent. This is because of an unusually high clay content. Clay absorbs water easily, and then it has to expand to make room for that water. So during periods of heavy rainfall or high humidity, the ground underneath your slab can suck up a lot of water. This means that this soaked soil may push upwards against your slab, as it has nowhere else to go.
In the dry, hot Dallas, Texas summers of which you are probably very familiar, the water-filled clay beneath your home starts to dry out. As the clay dries it shrinks, and portions of your slab can move or lower. This puts pressure on the plumbing lines which run underneath your slab, beside your slab, and in your home’s foundation.
Over time, especially with older pipes, this slab movement can cause leaks to weak pipes. If water pipes are located close to your slab, even a small movement is sufficient to spring a leak. Since slab movement is the cause of the problem, these are called slab leaks.
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.