Slab leaks are one of those plumbing problems that can create some serious problems for homeowners, especially if they remain undetected. Slab leak will cause a lot of water damage in a very short period of time. If you’ve never dealt with a slab leak before you may not even know what slab leak symptoms to look for.
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What is a slab leak?
A house, maybe yours, will either sit on a pier and beam or slab foundation. Most houses sit on a slab foundation which is nothing more than a slab of concrete poured into a form that rests on the ground. A pier and beam foundation has short columns or piers and beams. The beams span the distance of the piers.
Slabs are there to help stabilize your home and stop it from sinking into the soil. Just beneath the slab foundation sits the sewer lines and plumbing pipes. When one of the lines gets a leak this is what is referred to as a “slab leak.”
How to determine the foundation type?
If you walk alongside your house and see a crawl space to get beneath your house then your house sits on a pier and beam foundation. Conversely, if you have to walk up some stairs to enter your home or cannot see any space beneath your house you most likely have a slab foundation.
Slab leak symptoms
Puddles of water on the floor. A good indicator of a slab leak is when you see puddles of water coming from underneath the surface of your floor. When water leaks inside the house it will be coming out of walls, underneath cabinetry, or cracks in the tile.
Generally, this happens in areas in close proximity to plumbing, such as bathrooms, kitchen or the laundry room.
The water is coming from the slab, surfacing and finding the path of least resistance to come through the cracks. If you touch the water and it’s hot you’re dealing with a hot water slab leak which is what homeowners will have 80 – 90% of the time when dealing with these types of leaks.
Hot floors. It’s a lot easier to determine if your floors are hot when you’re dealing with wood or tiled floors rather than carpet because there is no insulation. If you have a hot water slab leak, the temperature in the water heats up the concrete which in turn heats up the tile.
So if you’re walking barefoot in your kitchen you may notice there’s a hot area and no you don’t suddenly have heated floors. 😉 If there are cool tiles just a few feet away from the heated tiles you’ve probably got a slab leak problem.
Hot water heater is constantly running. Another tell-tale sign that you’ve got a hot water slab leak is if you notice that your water heater is constantly running. This is happening because you have a constant flow of hot water going out and a constant flow of cold water going in. The hot water heater is constantly having to heat the water to keep up with the demand.
The hot water heater is constantly having to heat the water to try and keep up with the increased demand.
You hear running water sounds. A slab leak can also be detected by simply listening with your ears. Sometimes when water is leaking below the foundation you can actually hear sounds of running water beneath the flooring. You may need a plumber to determine the exact location of the leak.
Unusually high water or heating bills. If you detect a sudden spike in your water or heating bill it may be due to a slab leak. When your water and gas are running 24/7 to keep of up the demand to heat the cold water coming into your house both your gas and water bill will be higher than normal.
Water puddles along the outside of the house. If you notice water puddles along the side of the house and it’s not the result of water hoses or a dog’s water bowl take a closer look. Chance are the water leaks may be coming out of the cracks just below the surface of your house.
Constantly spinning meter dial. Checking the water meter can help determine if you have a cold or hot water slab leak. The water meter is normally located somewhere close to the curb in a box and in the ground. Take the lid off the box and look at the meter’s dial.
Make sure no water is being used anywhere in your house. If the dial on the meter is spinning at a very fast rate and there is no running water in your house that’s a pretty good indication that the water is leaking underneath the slab.
Many times when you have a slab leak the water doesn’t surface, at least not for awhile. The water is absorbing underneath the slab into the ground. Your slab leak symptoms are probably not going to be water coming through the ground.
Your first sign that there’s a problem will be when you get a water bill that’s 3 or 4 times what is normal for your household. Get a plumber to your home right away if you’ve determined that you do in fact have a slab leak to help minimize the damage.