What is a Slab Leak and How Can I Detect It in My South Carolina Home?

Dec 13, 2017

Categories: Foundations

As the premier foundation repair company in South Carolina, CNT often deals with slab leaks. A slab leak is a leak that occurs in the water pipes under the foundation or in the concrete slab upon which your home rests. If left undetected, a slab leak can destroy the foundation of your home. In this article, we will discuss slab leaks, the ways in which it can be detected in South Carolina and the average costs of repairs.

What is a Slab Leak?

A slab leak is a water leak that occurs underneath the foundation, or slab, of your home. Your homes slab is typically made of concrete and leaks are not difficult to diagnose, but reaching the problem can be considerably difficult and expensive. A slab leak happens when the soil underneath your home shifts, causing the concrete above to move. The concrete may crack as a result of the soil and clay movement beneath.

Most homes have copper water lines and, over time, they tend to give way to wear and tear and can often result in leaks. In cold weather, copper pipes can even burst. Luckily in South Carolina, the temperature rarely drops low enough for copper pipes burst, however, they do become so worn that any movement in the soil puts them at risk for leaks.

How Can I Detect a Slab Leak in My South Carolina Home?

Because slab leaks can lead to extensive damage and large repair costs, it is imperative to catch the leak as early as possible. If you experience any of the following signs, call a contractor immediately.

Damp carpet and/or warped flooring. Given enough time, your concrete slab will soak up water leaking below it. Once the concrete becomes saturated, the water needs to go somewhere, and that means up into your carpets and flooring. If you find damp (or soaked) carpet and you can’t explain where the moisture is coming from, you might have a slab leak on your hands. The same goes for warped wood or laminate floors.

Mold. Once water seeps into your floors, it then travels up your walls. Drywall absorbs water quickly and damp drywall generally leads to mold inside the walls. Mold flourishes where there is excessive moisture and many building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive to the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.

Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, mold can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation and skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Those with low immunity and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold.

Smell. Wet carpet and flooring, damp and moldy walls can create a musky smell. Think damp basement. Should your slab leak involves a sewer line, you will smell something far more potent.

Spike in your water bill. A significantly higher than normal water bill is a common sign that there is a leak somewhere in your home. If the plumbing inside your home seems to be intact, then you could have an unseen leak beneath the foundation. It becomes even more likely if the increase happens suddenly. The same is also true if there is a spike in your heating bill as well.

Hot floors. One of the first methods of slab leak detection is noticing a persistently hot area of your floor. This warm area could be an indication that a hot water line underneath the slab has busted. This hot area on the floor will only occur if it is a hot water line that was damaged. Otherwise, you will have to wait for other indications of the leak.

Low water pressure. Another common sign of a slab leak is lower water pressure. If you notice that the water pressure in your home has decreased, it could mean you have a slab leak that has developed in your main water line, where water flows from the outside. Your water pressure will significantly drop even if there is just a small leak in your water line. If you notice a sudden decrease in your water pressure, you need to contact a professional immediately.

Odd sounds. Another way to detect a slab leak is by listening. When the water in the foundation is leaking, you will be able to hear the sound of the water running beneath the surface. If you suspect that you have a slab leak, listen carefully for any odd or unusual sounds. If you are not sure, try shutting off the water, if you still hear the noises, it is time to call in a professional.

Foundation movement or cracking. Water is powerful and will attack the integrity of the foundation should a slab leak not be detected and corrected in a timely manner. This can also manifest itself in cracks in the floor and walls of your home. If you see cracks and/ or movement, this could be a sign slab leak. Slab leak repair can get rather expensive at this point, so be sure to act as quickly as possible. To read more about the causes water in a home’s foundation, refer to our article entitled, “What Causes Moisture in My Basement in South Carolina?"

When Should I Take Action For a Slab Leak in South Carolina?

As soon as you discover a slab leak—or even think you might have a slab leak—take immediate action. Each day you wait contributes to the damage your home will endure, and that means more repair costs down the road. Left unresolved long enough, your home might have severe structural damage. A potential leak can cause problems ranging from water damage to dangerous mold spores in inside your home It is crucial to get the slab or foundation repair contractor on the job as soon as possible to limit costly damages.

How Much Does a Slab Leak Repair Cost in South Carolina?

Depending on when you discovered the slab leak and how long it took before action was taken, the repair can be expensive. Because homes are typically built on a concrete slab foundation, the concrete may need to be jackhammered and the gravel beneath dug through in order to reach the pipes underneath your slab.

There are several costs that are involved in detecting and repairing a slab leak. The list below represents the national average.

  • Leak detection by a professional: $125-$400
  • Jackhammering through concrete slab: $500 to $4,000. Prices vary depending on where the leak originates – a pressurized water pipe or sewer line.
  • If your pipe is actually deteriorating, repairing the most worn part of the pipe will put pressure on the rest of the pipe. Therefore, that entire pipe may need to be replaced. This can cost up to $5,000.
  • In total, having to replace your pipes, in addition to the above charges, will cost approximately $15,000. If the leak is not found and a professional does not act soon, you could be looking at much greater repairs such as mold restoration and floor replacement. Not to mention furniture and appliance replacements.
    Leaks are a common problem and it important to remember that the longer you let the problem persist, the more extensive and expensive the damage will be. Act now if you think that you might have a slab leak. or the repair can be quite costly and it is imperative to recognize the signs before it becomes a larger issue. With over 15 years experience, CNT Foundation we can solve foundation and crawlspace issues before expensive damage occurs. If you think you might have a slab leak, CNT Foundations can help.