What are the signs of a slab leak?

Worker examining a cracked concrete slab.

Do you know how to identify this plumbing problem?

These days it’s hard enough to pay the monthly bills – it just makes you cringe every month, right? Then you find out you’ve been wasting water for who knows how long. But how could you be wasting water, and how would you find out? Slab leak detection is the way you’ll find out if you’re wasting water. 

What is slab leak detection?

It is beneficial to detect a slab leak early on, and once you do detect it, address the issue right away. Slab leak detection by a plumber can sometimes be done with their ears – no fancy equipment necessary. An experienced plumber will be able to identify a slab leak by the sound of water rushing under the floor. In fact, that used to be the only method they had for slab leak detection. 

However, today there are acoustic and electronic listening devices to assist with professional slab leak detection services, helping to determine if there is a slab leak and to identify where it is located. But how does slab leak detection work? Your plumber will get the basic layout of your home’s plumbing first, and then look for obvious signs of a slab leak. 

The leak detection equipment plumbers have available to them includes:

  • Acoustic disc and ground microphones. These pieces of slab leak detection equipment pick up sounds through thick concrete, a distinct sound that allows the plumber to narrow down where the leak is located.
  • Pressure sensors. This slab leak detection equipment scans for temperature and pressure change in the foundation. This enables the plumber to locate the area where the water is escaping.
  • Video pipe cameras. This slab leak detection equipment is a powerful tool that lets the plumber have a look inside the pipes. They use this for sewer line leaks as well. Fiber optic cables connect a camera to a monitor, and as the plumber navigates the camera through the pipes, a video of the inside is seen on the monitor.

This is now the slab leak detection and repair method needed to do the least amount of destruction to your home. In years past, they would have to jackhammer the foundation from one end to the other until they found the leak. 

What causes a slab leak?

Here in Georgia, and across the southern part of the country, slab leaks are a part of homeownership, unfortunately. Why? Because many of our homes are built on concrete slabs and others are built with a pier and beam construction. So when the ground shifts, and it will, the concrete slabs will shift with it, sometimes cracking and even making basement walls crack. Any plumbing inside the slab or walls will break too. 

Other causes of slab leaks are plumbing issues, like the joints beginning to leak inside the slab, and with water being a soft material, so to speak, this can do a lot of damage quickly. Just look at what it did to the Grand Canyon! 

As the water starts leaking in the slab, it reaches the soil beneath it and the slab loses its support. More strain is added to the slab, and this causes more cracks for the water to run through, eroding more of the slab. Then, if you haven’t had any slab leak detection done, that water starts to damage the flooring, walls, and more as it works its way through your home. 

Slab leak detection may find that you had faulty plumbing installation, something not unusual for mass development-built houses. When they’re going up in one day, be aware of the problems that can arise. Another possible cause is that the water could have weakened from chemical reactions between the metal pipes and the soil. 

What do you do if you suspect a slab leak?

If your home is on a cement slab and you observe any of the following, you need to call a professional plumber that offers slab leak detection and repair right away: 

  • Water Bill: If you have had a sudden and unexpected increase in your monthly water bill, then you probably have some type of plumbing leak. It may not be a slab leak, but detection by a professional is one way to confirm that after you have confirmed there isn’t a running spigot open outside.
  • Hotspots on Floors: If you’re noticing hot spots on the floors in a certain room, or rooms, you could have a hot water slab leak. Detection by a professional plumber will determine that is the problem, and will also check to see if your water heater has sprung a leak too. 
  • Walk Around Outside: Take a walk around your home’s exterior and see if you see any unusual built-up, standing puddles of water near the foundation. Unless it has rained or you have a sprinkler head out of position, you should call for a professional slab leak detection and repair. 
  • Cracked Ceilings and Walls: Over time, homes in this area will get hairline cracks as they settle and shift. However, a sudden new crack that is growing right before your eyes could be from a slab leak. 
  • Sounds of Running Water: If you can hear constant running water, but there isn’t any faucet or spigot on, you probably have a slab leak. 

A slab leak can have several symptoms, and some symptoms can mean more than just a slab leak. This is why you need a professional slab leak detection service that can confirm that is what you have and repair it for you. 

If you observe what appears to be a slab leak or any plumbing issue that has water gushing out of your home, turn the water off at the main and call a plumber for emergency service. If you suspect a slab leak due to any of the things we’ve listed, detection by a plumber will confirm this using the equipment and skills they have at their disposal. 

Worker using a tool to search for leaks.

In Conclusion – What happens if you don’t fix a slab leak?

Maybe you don’t notice a slab leak, or you ignore it for now – is a slab leak dangerous? It is damaging, which can be dangerous. A few serious issues you could experience without slab leak detection and repair are: 

  • Ruined floors from water seeping through the slab.
  • Foundation damaged by a slab leak swelling the cement, causing it to crack or even fall in some places. 
  • Landscape and yard damage from the water seeping, and even flowing, from the foundation. 
  • Obnoxious odors that come with the mildew and mold that water leaves behind. 
  • Mildew and mold are more dangerous than you may think because your family is breathing these dangerous pores in, which can cause health issues. 

Do you suspect a slab leak in your home? If so, reach out to Plumbers 4 Real by calling 404-475-3009 for slab leak detection and repair in Marietta, GA.