Rainforest Plumbing & Air repairs slab leaks.
Slab leaks or leaks under the floor can be the most illusive leaks to locate. Sometimes leaks under the floor show themselves with a hot spot or water coming out of the foundation. Many times though, underground leaks don't show at all. The only suspicion you may have is that there is a high water bill.
If you have been wondering about the cause of a high water bill, perhaps there is a leak under the floor. One way to prove an invisible leak is to do a simple do-it-yourself test before you call a leak locator or plumber.
|Rainforest Plumbing & Air locating a leak under a parking lot.|
Steps to test for a slab leak:
1) Make sure all faucets, valves and appliances are not drawing any water.
2) Check toilets and if they are running, turn off the valve below the toilet.
3) Check to make sure the automatic pool filler valve is turned off.
4) Don't run the dishwasher or clothes washer during this test.
5) Make sure the landscape water valves are turned off.
5) Finally, when you are sure there is no water running, go to the water meter box by the street and check the meter. If it is still turning, there is a leak somewhere under the floor.
This simple test is one you can do on your own. If after the test, the water meter isn't spinning, perhaps you have isolated the cause of some other hidden leak such as a running toilet.
Some under floor leaks are ver noticeable. Water on the floor is the most obvious indication. You may notice a wet spot in the middle of the floor or in the carpet. If you have tile, be cautious not to assume that you know the source of the leak when it comes out of the side of the tile. A leak could come up under the tile then flow to another area.
When trying to locate a leak under the floor, always try to figure out where water pipes are under the floor. When your home was constructed, water pipes were installed under the floor in the most economical way. Copper pipe is expensive so the plumbing contractor would have done his best to design the route of water lines to use the least amount of copper. So, start with where the water valve is outside the home, usually against the front of the house. This is where water first enters the home. Follow that water pipe and imagine which way it would go. Think of the water heater, kitchen sink, laundry room, bathroom sinks, showers, toilets and hose bibs. You can make a sketch of the home and show the water pipes as they all connect or you can put tape on the floor to mark the possible direction of pipes.
After you have guessed the locations of underground pipes, the luckiest do-it-yourself pipe locator will find that a slab leak is in the same area of one of those lines.
One of the most common slab leak locations is where a pipe begins to come up out of the ground and into the wall. This is where pipes could have become damaged on installation. Soft copper pipe, when installed, is bent by hand and is sometime kinked. This doesn't seem like a big deal at the time but it can result in lower water pressure and a slab leak after a few years of use.
Many people with leaks under the floor ask us what causes slab leaks. Well, there are many cause including kinks and dents in the pipe. Think of the time when the soft copper was installed. Once installed, the contractor backfills the trenches with a rocky material in preparation for the poring of a concrete slab. These rocks are dumped into the trench and if the pipe was not protected by a sandy layer, the rocks slam into the soft copper pipe. The result is many tiny dents in the copper pipe. These dents become intrusions on the inside of the pipe. Like a canyon wall, flowing water fights to make the walls smooth. A bump on the inside of a soft copper pipe can become a protrusion that is "sawn" off over time by flowing water. This "erosion" is the perfect slab leak cause.
Another common slab leak cause has to do with the fact that iron erodes copper. If at any point in the installation of your copper pipes, iron of any kind comes into contact with the copper, a leak may occur. Iron will essentially wear a hole in copper pipes. Iron in the natural soil is a possible cause but more than likely, there is an obvious iron contact point. We have seen this in the form of construction nails or wire used to strap a copper pipe for some reason.
Once an underground leak is located, you'll need to repair it. This can be the most unnerving part of the process because it entails jackhammering a hole in your floor and digging down to the pipe. You'll want to be sure of the leak location because that kind of digging is a little messy and there are costs involved to repair the floor, tile, etc.
The best way to be sure of the location of a leak is to use leak locating equipment. This equipment costs many thousands of dollars which is why you should hire a plumber with electronic leak locating equipment. Rainforest Plumbing & Air has leak locating equipment.
Another tip for a do-it-yourself leak locator is to use a stethoscope. Yes - the kind used by a doctor. Just like listening to a heart beat, you can place the stethoscope on the floor in the area of the possible slab leak. If you are right on top of the location, you can hear the water spraying under the floor. When you hear that sound, you get a gratifying feeling that your suspicions have been confirmed. After that feeling goes away, you realize there is a repair project that must be done.
The plumbers at Rainforest Plumbing & Air do slab leak repairs all the time. This is something that is usually covered by insurance for the most part. Insurance companies don't like these kinds of leaks because they can be expensive and some plumbing contractors can take advantage of the insurance company. Just be careful to get up front pricing from your plumbing contractor.