How to Detect a Slab Leak

How to Detect a Slab Leak

If you’re like most Americans, your home is built on a concrete slab foundation. These materials are inexpensive, easy to install, durable, and perform their job tremendously through all sorts of natural disasters. Slabs also provide outstanding shielding and support for things running through them, including plumbing lines. That being said, just because a plumbing line runs through your slab doesn’t mean it can’t crack or spring a leak. Slab leaks are not only potentially devastating to your home, but they can cost thousands and take days or even weeks to fully repair.

As such, detecting and dealing with slab leaks early can help you stop some of the damage from occurring. Here are a few signs of slab leaks that you should keep an eye out for as a homeowner, and don’t hesitate to take action immediately if you spot one.

An Extremely High Water Bill

Many slab leaks are slow, and some never penetrate the top surface of the slab, but instead travel downward to the bottom where they leak into the land below. How are you supposed to know when you have one of these leaks? The easiest way is by keeping an eye on your water bill. If you suddenly see a huge spike in your charges from the water company and you know there’s no explanation for it, don’t simply ignore it or assume it’s an error; you could be dealing with a serious slab leak under your home that you simply shouldn’t be putting off. After all, as the water leaks out from your plumbing, so does the money leak out from your wallet.

Unexplained Water Puddles

Have you noticed water puddles along the side of your house where the walls meet the earth? This may not be simply a side-effect of nature, but an indication that there could be water bubbling up from beneath the foundation, a tell-tale sign of a slab leak. Keep an eye on any unexplained puddles for a few days: if they don’t seem to go away, or you can spot water bubbling up at any point, call a plumber immediately to have your plumbing investigated.

Damp or Wet Flooring

This is arguably the single most obvious sign of a slab leak: water that intrudes through your foundation and into your home will damage your flooring, leaving it wet or even warped. Be mindful of where the wet or warped spots are: spots near a wall may be an indication of a broken pipe in your walls, which is a far more common and easier to fix problem. However, wet or damaged flooring that’s not near any walls at all is usually a pretty tell-tale sign of a slab leak.

Hot Flooring

It’s not uncommon for hot water lines to run through your slab, and that means you may get a pretty big clue as to the presence of a slab leak if the hot water line is the one that breaks. Hot or warm flooring is almost a dead giveaway that the hot water line beneath that particular area has developed a leak. While it may be harder to feel this through carpet (which doesn’t transfer heat well), hardwood, tile, and other solid floors laid directly over the foundation will usually transfer heat fairly well. Also, if you notice your hot water heater seems to be constantly running along with the warm spot on your floor, it’s almost certain that you have a slab leak.

Run a Plumbing Test

If you’ve noticed any of the steps above and want to be sure you have a leak, you can run a test at home on your own with just a few simple tools. Here’s how:

  • Turn off all your appliances and shut off any water faucets in your home, including all toilets, your washing machine, your water heater, dishwasher, refrigerator, and any other devices connected to your water lines.
  • Find your water meter outside (usually located near your driveway or along the boundary of your property, under a cover labeled “water meter”)
  • Remove the cover and check the number as well as the flow indicator for motion. If the flow indicator is still spinning, then you have a leak and should call a Bartlett plumber immediately for help with finding it.
  • If you don’t have a flow indicator, record the number, replace the cover, and then wait 30 minutes. Go back out and check your meter again and see if the number has gone up at all. If it has, then you have a leak.

If you have a slab leak you need repaired, don’t hesitate to call Smith’s Plumbing Services today at (901) 290-1110 to request a service estimate!

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