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Many homes in Mansfield, TX, have water and sewage pipes running underneath the concrete slabs of their foundations. A slab leak occurs when a pipe under the concrete starts leaking water or sewage.
Homeowners can easily overlook slab leaks because they occur underground. Unfortunately, some slab leaks are not detected until foundations are actually damaged. Slab leak repair should be handled by professionals. They are nearly impossible for most homeowners to fix.
How Slab Leaks Occur
A combination of factors can lead to slab leak repairs. Erosion around a home’s foundation causes slight shifts that result in continuous pressure on plumbing pipes underneath the house. This pressure builds up over time and eventually
causes a break or crack in one or more pipes under the foundation. The water from leaking pipe softens soil around the foundation even more, and the cumulative effects create a serious problem for homeowners.
Water flowing inside pipes causes constant movement including, vibrations, expansion, and contraction. The movement may force the pipe into contact with concrete, gravel, stones, and other pipes.
Slab leaks occur more frequently in hot water lines than cold lines. Hot water increases the probability of reactions with substances surrounding pipes, and the pipe corrodes from the outside. Older homes with the original plumbing are more susceptible to corrosion leaks than new homes.
Electrolysis causes corrosion when two types of metal contact each other or when soil around pipes is high in metal content. Copper pipes are resistant to corrosion, but they are susceptible to electrolysis. Several pipes may be replaced during slab leak repairs due to corrosion. If one pipe is corroded, the other pipes are also at risk.
High water pressure can eventually lead to a need for slab leak repairs. Reduce this risk with pressure-reducing valves, or consult a professional plumber for advice. Poor construction when the foundation was poured also increases the risk of slab leaks.
How Slab Leaks Undermine a Home’s Foundation
Concrete slabs forming a home’s foundation are placed on top of smooth fill soil. The weight of the slab presses on loose soil as the concrete hardens, and the drying concrete adjusts to any small gaps between the slab and underlying
soil. This process lets the concrete slab adjust to the settling and compacted soil so the foundation is stable and supported.
Water from slab leaks saturates and softens soil underneath concrete slabs. Loose fill underneath the slab becomes compacted. Soil erodes and moves out from under the foundation or redistributes itself under the concrete. Erosion is a term describing the process of moving liquid carrying soil particles. It undermines a foundation’s integrity regardless of the direction of movement because the previously solid surface under the foundation is no longer flat.
Empty areas from and provide no support at all. This puts pressure on the foundation and the house sinks, slides, and slowly tilt in one direction or another. The foundation could also be pushed upward by mounded soil formed by erosion or soil swells caused by water saturation.
Soil erosion accelerates quickly after the concrete slab begins to move. The weight of the slab pushes soft, weakened soil out from under the foundation, which creates an even larger imbalance and more soil movement. It is extremely important to detect and seek slab leak repairs as early as possible so deterioration does not reach the point of rapid acceleration.
Slab leak repairs are essential because leaks can eventually damage a home beyond repair. The foundation tilts and wrenches itself out of shape. Sheetrock, brick veneer, and other construction finishes crack because underlying supports are distorted.
Slab Leaks in Clay Soil
Clay is less permeable than many other types of soil in Mansfield, TX. It does not absorb water easily compared to most soil types, so water must be in contact with clay for an extended period of time before softening occurs. Deterioration progresses faster and houses settle and shift on their foundations after the top layer of clay is saturated.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect slab leaks in clay because there is so little noticeable damage, at first. Property owners should be aware of the type of soil underneath their homes’ foundations. Learn the subtle signs of a leak to increase the chances of noticing it in time for early slab leak repairs.
Signs of a Slab Leak
Cracks in the walls or flooring are a sign of slab leaks caused by a shifting foundation. Other signs include audible sounds of running water when no one is using a sink, toilet, or other fixture, and moisture or mildew under carpets. Water bills rise because water is being lost through leaks, and homes can lose hot water through the tap.
Water runs downhill unless some other force interferes, so fluid leaking from sewage or water pipes under a foundation also flows downhill. The first signs of property erosion may be noticed at a site downhill from the leaking pipe instead of under or around the foundation itself. Possible signs include unexplained standing water, a soggy or muddy lawn, and new sinkholes or ditches. Slab leaks can also push water from a home’s exterior or interior walls.
This does not mean there is no damage to the foundation. It is something to keep in mind if unexplained problems start to crop up in seemingly random areas, especially if the problem sites are downhill from a house or other residential building. Catching these problems early and immediate slab leak repairs prevents more extensive damage to the foundation.
Amateur slab leak repairs without appropriate equipment and training can have disastrous results. The leak is in or under concrete. Call the professionals at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Mansfield, TX, at 817-405-0434 for a suspected slab leak.
Trained staff use specialized equipment such as electronic amplification, radar, and electromagnetic pipeline locators to confirm a leak and find the exact location for slab leak repairs. Professionals also determine the cause of slab leaks and offer recommendations to prevent leaks in the future.