The term slab leak is a bit of plumber-speak for any leak that occurs in the cold or hot water pipes set down in the concrete foundation of a home. It can also refer to any pipe down in a rock surface, but for residential buildings this almost always applies to the foundation.
Slab leaks are major problems for homes, since not only do they end up wasting large amounts of water, they can also cause damage to the house, lead to the growth of mold and mildew, and place extra stress on the water heater if the leaks happen in the hot water lines (which is around 80% of the time). Professional plumbers are trained and equipped to locate slab leaks so they can be fixed.
But why do slab leaks start in the first place? A pipe that’s set down in concrete would seem to be well protected from the damages that can lead to pipe breaks. But there are different forces that can create a slab leak underneath a home. Below are three of the more common.
Pressure from the house and other forces
Large pressure placed on the pipes is a significant cause for slab leaks. The pressure can come from various sources, such as the shifting of soil causing a house’s foundation to move slightly, or a poor construction job. Leaks that happen because of pressure increases are usually the largest kind of slab leak, and can create a high risk of damage to property due to flooding. (Earthquakes are another source or pressure on the pipes, but this is rarely an issue in Florida.)
We mentioned above that slab leaks are more frequent in hot water lines. The reason for this is that corrosion is more common inside the pipes that transport hot water. The reaction between the heat of the water and the material surrounding the pipes can cause the pipe to begin to corrode from the outside. In the case of cold water pipes, the corrosion will usually happen from inside.
Older homes are more likely to encounter corrosion issues because they have copper or galvanized steel pipes in their foundations. Copper is corrosion-resistant, not corrosion proof: electrolysis can still cause corrosion in copper. In cases of corroding older pipes, repairing the slab leak isn’t always the best option. The home may require repiping.
You’ve probably watched exposed pipes before and noticed that they sometimes rattle around a bit as water passes through them and causes the material to expand and contract. Pipes that rattle about in a concrete foundation will start to abrade as they rub against the rock surface, and over time this will lead to leaking. Once again, there is a higher risk for hot water pipes, because they expand more from the internal heat.
If you suspect slab leaks in your Winter Springs, FL home, it’s vital that you contact professional plumbers. Taking care of slab leak repairs can involve a number of different methods, from using jack hammers to less invasive lateral techniques. You can entrust our licensed plumbers to locate the slab leaks in your home and find the best way to stop them.
Modern Plumbing Industries, Inc. has proudly served Central Florida since 1975.