Identifying a slab leak within your home

foundation slab

Signs of a slab leak

We’ve discussed how devastating a water leak can be, but when that water leak is a slab leak, the devastation can be much, much worse. To clarify, a slab leak is when a water or sewer line that is buried under your home’s slab breaks or has deteriorated and water seeps into he foundation, causing it to crack and water infiltrates the slab. To repair a slab leak, estimates can be anywhere between a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and that doesn’t count repair or replacing what was damaged by the slab leak. 

Let’s get the most common question answered now: Are slab leaks covered by homeowners insurance?  The answer isn’t what you want to hear: No, not usually.  Homeowners insurance will not pay for what is considered normal wear & tear or homeowner maintenance. Slab leaks are considered a little of both. Even if it is tree roots that bust a water line and cause the slab leak, the insurance company will see that as homeowner maintenance issues.  

However, if a peril that is beyond your control, causes a slab leak, you may get reimbursed for tearing out the slab, making the plumbing repair, and replacing the slab. A covered peril can be one of the following: 

  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Fire
  • Wind

An example would be damaged to your home, including the slab, by a tornado. If you homeowner’s insurance policy states that wind damage is covered, then you slab leak repairs will be covered.  What if the tornado causes a slab leak in garage though? If your garage is detached, you’ll want to make sure your policy has “detached structures” or “other structures” coverage. An attached garage will typically be covered, but again, check your policy to be sure, before you need slab leak coverage!

What causes a slab leak?

Slab leak causes are typically from plumbing failures, like deteriorated and weak water lines or fault installation. How can plumbing pipe deteriorate? There are pipes made from materials that don’t fare well with the soil they’re buried under. Like Cast iron pipes.

Any home built before 1960s will likely have cast iron pipes. If the plumbing was connected above the ground, there probably won’t be any problem of deterioration. Cast iron pipe that was buried underground and unprotected though will become corroded by the minerals in the ground and the water flowing through them. Today, when cast iron pipes are used, they sheathed with a protective coating. 

Before the 1960s, galvanized steel pipes was the common plumbing pipe, but it is also susceptible to corrosion. In addition to that, galvanized water pipe clogs easier because the coating inside the piping wears off. This leaves them vulnerable to mineral and rust buildup, however, it can take up to fifty years before that becomes a problem. 

Today, rigid copper piping is used for underground plumbing lines and flexible copper piping is used for appliances that use water like the dishwasher and icemaker. Another type of plumbing pipe used today is plastic like PVC or flex plumbing. Both are corrosion resistant and easy to work with for installing and repairing, and very unlikely to cause a slab leak. 

In addition to the pipe materials used, another cause of slab leaks is the soil. Here in Texas, the ground contracts and expands all year long, and that can play havoc on slab plumbing, causing slab leaks. Studies by civil engineers tell us that one-fourth of all home in the country are on expansive soil and prone for slab leaks. 

Is a slab leak dangerous?

We are going to give you three reasons why a slab leak is more dangerous  and serious than a dripping faucet, although, the faucet should be fixed, you’re wasting a natural resource!  Remember, a slab leak you discover today has probably been happening for some time, they can go days, months, even years before they’re discovered. 

The three issues you need to be aware of that the slab leak you found today is causing you: 

  • Health: Your family’s health isn’t something to take lightly, but did you know that a slab leak is a potential health hazard? The water from a slab leak will become a breeding ground for bacteria, including mold. Breathing mold spores causes respiratory problems, which will worse over time because the moisture is still there, and the mold keeps growing and spreading. Once our respiratory system is attacked and breaks down, we become susceptible to other diseases and illnesses. 
  • Structural: A slab leak will weaken the integrity of the structure that you call home, even a home built with concrete and steel. Water pressure is mighty, and it will cause the ground under your foundation to shift, which will shift the foundation, causing it to crack. After enough time, the foundation is in danger of collapsing.
  • Financial: Because most, if not all slab leaks aren’t going to be covered by your homeowner’s insurance, the repairs of the foundation, the plumbing, and all other damages are going to come out of your pocket. That expenses could cost you up to $5,000 or more depending on where the slab leak is located and how bad the damage is to your home. 
leak through slab

What happens if you have a slab leak?

A slab leak will first saturate the ground under the foundation then the foundation. Because it has nowhere else to go, the water will begin to seep upward and under the carpeting and flooring of your home. It will work its way to the walls and upward, leaving mildew and mold behind with every drop and trickle of water. Some things you’ll start to notice are: 

  • You’ll notice doors and windows aren’t opening or closing easily, or maybe not at all. You may notice a rise in your water bill first, and then your home will always have a moist feel in the air.  
  • Family member may start experiencing respiratory issues, or if they have them already, they’ll worsen. That leads to more doctor appointments, missed days of school and work. 
  • A slab leak that goes unnoticed will cause the house to get lopsided, the broken slab could bust through the flooring, or cause the flooring to collapse where the foundation is sinking. 
  • The longer the slab leak goes, the walls become crooked, the roofing loses its stability because the frame of the house has lost its stability. Roof leaks and more begin happening and your homeowner’s insurance isn’t going to cover that because they will see it as homeowner neglect of foundation issues. 

Your first indication that you may have a slab leak, water bill increases, either drastically or gallon by gallon, a slow but steady climb. The minute you notice a water bill has increased, do the water meter check as discussed in this article. If that indicates you may have one, call a plumber immediately and have your home’s plumbing inspected. Don’t put of a slab leak repair, you’re only setting yourself up for more expenses. Call 817-281-5325 today for your slab leak repair in Fort Worth, TX.