How Common are Slab Leaks?

Slab leaks are a homeowner’s nightmare. Homeowners whose houses are not built on concrete slabs; this post is not for you. When homes are built directly onto concrete slabs, they are susceptible to something called a slab leak. However, living in California does make your risk for slab leaks a bit high, but we’ll get into all that here.

What are Slab Leaks?

To start, a slab leak happens when the plumbing that’s either built into the concrete slab or underneath the slab starts to leak. Leaking water needs a place to go, and because of the vulnerabilities in concrete slabs, water either goes up or out.
A break in the pipes or corrosion are what cause slab leaks. The pipes can start with a pinhole and then the hole can grow so much water is not flooding your yard. The damage doesn’t stop there though. With enough time, these leaks soak your foundation in water, making it weak. This weak and eventually cracked foundation can leak to cracks in your floors and in your walls. An extreme slab leak has caused entire parts of a house to collapse.

How Common is it to Have a Slab Leak?

It’s with a heavy heart we say that Californians need to be particularly mindful to slab leaks. The big reason, earthquakes. The shifting earth can crack concrete slab foundations and break pipes within or underneath that foundation. Anyone who owns an older home should also be on the lookout for any signs of a slab leak. Over time, the copper piping commonly used in these homes can corrode, causing leaks.

Five Warning Signs of Slab Leaks

Be mindful if any of these warning signs are happening in your home:

Your Floor feels Warm

One way to check for slab leaks is to take stock of the temperature of your floors. When a hot water pipe bursts, some homeowners feel warm spots on their floor. However, the materials of your flooring do make a difference. Home with carpeting and thin linoleum are more likely to have the heat radiate through their floors. Hardwood and tiled floors are so thick it’s hard to feel any temperature difference. When you feel radiant heat coming from your floor, it’s truly time to call a plumbing professional to see what is going on.

Water Bills are Going Sky High

One of the best things you can do for your plumbing is to keep an eye on your water bills. Monitoring the rates and fluctuations in your water bill can give you an idea of what is going on with your plumbing system. A sharp increase in your monthly bill can mean something is wrong. Water flowing 24/7 will make a difference and you will see it reflected on your bill. A high water bill could indicate:
  • Leaks throughout your plumbing system
  • A fixture in your home (i.e. the toilet) is leaking
  • There’s a faucet that won’t stop dripping
  • There’s a leak in your sprinkler system

Lower Than Usual Water Pressure

The thing about a leak is that it stops water from getting to your home. Therefore, a surefire sign you have a leak somewhere in your plumbing system is when you see a drop in your water pressure. This means a weak shower could be a sign that something is very wrong with your plumbing.

Carpet or Flooring is Damp

Remember how we talked about feeling warm water through your floor, what happens when that water actually catches up to your floor? After you’ve cleared any innocent pets of wrongdoing, check around your home for other damp spots. These could all be an indicator of a slab leak.

Random Puddles in or Outside of the Home

When water starts to pool in your concrete foundation, it’ll eventually need a place to go. Unfortunately, that place is around the outside of your foundation or inside your home. When water is pooling in different areas of your yard and around your foundation—especially if it’s a warm, dry day—that’s a very big indicator you have a slab leak. The same can be said for pools of water around your fixtures, like the water heater, washing machine, or toilet. Don’t try to handle a slab leak on your own. These types of leaks involve a lot of work and specialized tools and skills. Call a professional plumber as soon as possible.