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Triple O Heating, Cooling, Electrical & Plumbing Blog

What Is a Slab Leak and How Do I Know I Have One?

slab-leak-crack-in-foundation

The slab leak is one of the most difficult to locate of all plumbing problems, at least if you’re not a trained plumber. We’ve handled slab leak detection and repair in Rochester, NY since 2003, and we can tell you that it takes special equipment and knowledge to find one of these leaks and fix it. 

If you’re scratching your head at this point, don’t worry. We’ll explain exactly what slab leaks are and how you can tell you need to call us to locate and repair one.

Slab Leak Basics

The term slab leak is plumber-speak for any leak in the pipes down in the concrete foundation slab of a house. Many homes have extensive hot and cold water lines running through their foundation slabs, and leaks that occur in these pipes are tricky to notice at first. 

How do slab leaks get started if they’re down in concrete? Those pipes are not as protected from damage as you may think. Chemicals in the water can create corrosion, and the pipes can also move around as water passes through them, causing abrasions against the concrete. (Because hot water pipes move more due to the way metal expands and contracts from heat, 80% of slab leaks occur in these pipes.) Small shifts in the ground can move the slab and place pressure on the pipes, breaking them. Finally, older piping material like galvanized steel will corrode over time, which is why we recommend leak detection or even full repiping for a house older than 50 years. 

Finding Out You Have a Slab Leak

Now the big question: how can you tell you have a slab leak when the pipes are buried in concrete? It isn’t always easy, but slab leaks create signs you may notice:

  • High water bills: If you have much higher water usage on your utility bills than before and you can’t account for it, you may have a hidden leak somewhere—and a slab leak is a prime candidate.
  • Odd behavior from the water heater: We mentioned the high frequency of slab leaks in hot water lines. This can affect your water heater and cause it to turn on and off at unusual times, turning on more frequently than you expect. This could be a problem with the water heater, but we work with both slab leaks and water heater repairs, so we’ll take care of either.
  • Hot floors: If you notice hot spots on the floors of your home, it could be water leaking from a slab leak in a hot water pipe.
  • Cracks in the basement: If your home has a basement, you may see cracks forming along the floor. This is a strong indicator that the pressure from a slab leak is building up below.
  • Mold and mildew growth: The escaping water from a slab leak can lead to higher humidity in the basement and the development of mold and mildew where this wasn’t a problem before.

We offer a 24/7 emergency line for when you have urgent plumbing problems. We’re community-oriented and family-owned, so you can trust us to get the job done right and treat your home with respect. 

Triple O Heating, Cooling, Electrical & Plumbing Is Your One-stop Shop for HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical. Call us for slab leak detection and repair services.

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