Detecting slab leaks is tricky because there are no alarm systems to raise a warning. This means that a slab leak can be hard to spot, and it usually progresses without the homeowner being aware of its presence until the damage is extensive.
There are several methods plumbers use to locate and repair plumbing lines under concrete foundations. These include tracing equipment, listening tools, and infrared thermometers. Infrared thermometers are particularly effective at locating hot spots from leaky copper water lines because they heat up when the leak is located. Ultrasound leak detectors are also helpful, but they are time-consuming to run over the entire slab.
The main cause of slab leak detection is the shift in soil beneath a home’s foundation. This can occur due to natural erosion, underground water, or even earthquakes. It can weaken and crack the pipes beneath your house, causing leaks.
Other causes of slab leaks are rust or corrosion in plumbing lines. These can occur in cast iron or galvanized pipes, which are often used in older homes. They corrode over time, creating pinholes that can be difficult to repair. In addition, plumbing lines may become corroded as they rub against concrete, soil, or other materials underneath a home’s foundation.
Re-piping is another option to repair a slab leak. Unlike the pass-through method, this approach eliminates the leaking line, but it still requires the old line to be abandoned under the concrete slab and replaced with a new one.
In many cases, re-piping is the best solution for repairing a leaky pipe under a concrete slab because it provides a more long-term repair than other methods. It also reduces the possibility that other leaks will develop in the future.
Slab leaks can be caused by a variety of factors, including the type of plumbing material that was used during construction and water pressure and the chemistry of the surrounding soil and concrete. Some types of soil and concrete have high alkaline levels, which can corrode plumbing lines.
The abrasive properties of the soil can also contribute to corrosion. This can affect both copper and other metals.
Some plumbers can use a chemical called caustic soda to break up rust in the pipes, which helps them to pinpoint the location of a leak. They can then remove the rust and replace it with an epoxy-based lining that will help prevent further corrosion.
This process can be done through the walls and in the attic, or it can be done directly through the slab itself. It is a less invasive method than breaking through the concrete and can be done by a professional with special training and equipment.
Getting your home’s foundation and slab leaks fixed early is the key to saving money in the long term. Investing in early repairs is not only less costly but will also make your home more energy efficient and increase the value of your property.