5 Most Common Factors in Slab Leaks from Slab Leak Detection Experts | Mansfield, TX
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In this article, we’ll go over the five most common elements which contribute to slab leaks, and steps that can be taken to avoid them. Some of these involve proper home maintenance, and homeowners can take certain steps to avoid having to deal with slab leak issues. Some problems are beyond a homeowner’s control, having to do with the water or the age of the house. Other causes of slab leaks are, unfortunately, caused by improper plumbers and tradesmen. At Benjamin Franklin in Mansfield, TX, we are experts in slab leak detection, and won’t make these mistakes! However, we can’t say the same for other plumbers, and sometimes we find ourselves cleaning up after shoddy work.
Copper tubing can be a red flag during slab leak detection, and many copper-related problems fall in the category of “poor construction”. If you’re dealing with an older home or one that hasn’t been serviced by plumbers in a long time, this may be an issue you can’t avoid. Copper tubing was a common choice for plumbers (and still often is) and, unfortunately, can create some issues with slab leaks if it hasn’t been installed correctly.
Nowadays, the material of choice for slab leaks is PEX, or cross-linked polyethylene. However, in the past, many plumbers used copper tubing. Copper tubing was functional for plumbers for a long time, because it was easy to make, buy, and install. The fact that it was so common made it the go-to choice for many plumbers.
When it comes to slab leaks, one of the main problems that copper tubing may cause is related to the way it is laid. Copper is a good metal for general use in plumbing, but it is malleable and not very resistant to wear and tear.
If the plumber laid the copper across gravel or pebbles, the debris will eventually create dings, nicks, and dimples inside the copper pipe. Depending on the sharpness and quantity of the debris around the pipe, the pipe may have holes worn into it after months or years. The water rushing through the pipe, combined with the stress the pipe is under from the gravel, will eventually wear the pipe down, causing leakage. This is one of the most common causes of pipe failure we see when doing slab leak detection.
“Good” Water Quality
Most of our water these days is heavily treated with chlorine and other chemicals. In general, this fact is a plumber’s friend; treated water cuts down on mold and mildew, and prevents many types of bacteria from causing problems in the structure of a house. However, when combined with copper wiring, this can create problems.
Chlorine, chloramine, and other types of disinfectants used to rid impurities from the water can also affect copper because many of the same “impurities” in water are also in copper.
When we’re working on slab leak detection, many of the biggest leaks that we normally find are caused by exactly this. The chlorine in the water will eat away at grains or impurities in the copper, just as it is designed to do, leaving a small divot that eventually can be worn out by continuous water flow. This causes the pipes to degrade and eventually leak.
Hard water is another problem that can damage copper tubing, because it is acidic, as opposed to alkaline. Acids and metals don’t mix well, and water that hasn’t been softened can slowly eat away at the inside of a copper pipe. The hardness of the water can vary based on a number of factors, the most important being the region where the water comes from — when we do slab leak detection in Mansfield, TX, this is a common problem we see.
One step homeowner can take to avoid this is to use a water softener or anti-scalers to mitigate the effects that the hard water is causing on pipes.
Concrete & Gravel
One of the reasons you often see sleeves on different types of metal tubes is that concrete can erode copper. As copper tubes go through concrete walls and floors, it’s important that they have the proper sleeving to avoid constant rubbing. Sometimes, even if the plumber applied the sleeves correctly, the hot water can cause the piping the swell and cause friction with the concrete in which the pipe is embedded.
During installation, many plumbers will roll out copper tubes by standing on them, and in the process of straightening out the tubes, the concrete, gravel, and stones in the foundation may dent the copper during installation.
Rolling out tubes to straighten them out is a standard plumbing practice, and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it — however, it’s important to be very careful that the tube is being prepared on a bed of sand or clean surface, so as not to absorb any dents in the process.
When it comes to slab leak detection, often there’s a chicken-and-egg quandary that pops up — did the foundation cause the leak, or did the leak cause the structural issue?
Due to temperature contraction, earthquakes, or any number of reasons, the foundations of any structure will shift with time. This causes the pipes to lean and bend, increasing the chances of a leak! This can be an issue when dealing with insurance companies — they’ll want to know the true cause of the problem when sometimes it’s hard to say.
A good plumber can assess the situation and advocate for you during insurance claims, which is a good reason to schedule a team to come to your property for slab leak detection.
As a homeowner, you shouldn’t have to look over your plumber’s shoulder and making sure they doing everything correctly. Some common causes of slab leaks arise from just that; plumbers using lazier or easy solutions despite the long-term risks! At Mansfield‘s own Benjamin Franklin Slab Leak Detection, we won’t overlook these common slab leak mistakes.
Call us today to schedule an inspection. We offer the most professional slab leak detection services and are equipped to survey your plumbing situation and provide appropriate advice and services as needed — the best in Texas!