Buying a home can be a daunting task, but maintaining is no small feat either; especially if you buy a second-hand home. Even with a brand new home, you need to maintain it constantly. Otherwise, it will depreciate faster than you want.
One of the most common problems includes slab leaks. Slab leaks happen when the copper pipes in the foundation of your home are rusted or damaged. Slab leaks are usually caused by wrong installation or some damage while the house was being built. Other than that, pipes usually expand and contract, and if they are placed too close to gravel or other pipes, they can rub against each other, causing abrasion. Sometimes your house may shift foundation, which pressurizes the pipes, causing them to leak.
How to identify a slab leak?
Slab leaks are tricky to identify and hence may go unnoticed during the house inspection. So what are some signs and indications of slab leaks? One of the most obvious signs is an unusual spike in your water bill because in case of leaking water runs 24/7. If there is no other explanation for the hike, then there is a slab leak. Also, you might notice water collecting in places where it should not be. Since the water is constantly running beneath the floor, you may also notice damp areas or warped floors in case you have hardwood. A sudden musky smell is an indicator of mold or mildew that might be growing underneath the carpet or in the wall cracks. A slab leak might also steal your water pressure. So if no other fixtures are in use and you are still getting low water pressure, slab leak might be the culprit.
How much does a slab leak cost?
A slab leak can be quite dangerous because it can go undetected until the damage is quite severe. Also, a slab leak is quite expensive to repair. On average it takes around $150 to $400 to call a professional at home. The cost may vary depending upon how difficult it is to identify the leak. The cost may also vary in different cities; Austin slab leak detectors may charge less than slab detectors in Virginia.
Other than that it can cost $2000 to rip off the concrete and repair the pipes underneath. This does not include any other damage that may have been caused due to the leak. Your home insurance likely covers damage to the carpet, floor, or cabinets.
Many home insurance companies do not cover damage to the pipes so you may have to discuss the particulars with your insurance company.
Spot the leak
The first and the most difficult task in repairing a slab leak is perhaps spotting where the leak is. It depends upon the type of leak. For example, a hot water leak is easier to spot. All you need to do is walk around the house barefoot. It is easier to locate leaks inside the wall; you will notice mold formation, wet spots, or peeling paint.
Remove the slab
Once the leak has been identified, you need to remove the slab. A slab is usually 4 to 5 inches thick and can be removed with a jackhammer. Do not dig a big hole before you are 100 % sure that there is a leak. First, dig a hole that is the size of your hand, and once you are sure to dig further.
A less expensive solution for the slab leak problem is abandoning the old plumbing and attaching it with new pipes. It is no doubt, it requires more plumbing work than removing the slab, but it is budget-friendly because then you have to find the matching floor as well. Also, in case of any future problems, the lines will be easily accessible.
Another effective and convenient solution to the problem is lining the pipes with a nontoxic epoxy coat. This takes care of any tiny holes as well as any minor leaks in the copper pipes. Pipe lining is a better solution because it is noninvasive and economical.
There are various ways in which pipe lining can be done. For example, the plumber might use cured-in-place pipe lining, which forces the coating down the line. The professional will know which method to use depending upon the dynamics of the lines. For example, fresh water lines are thinner than sewer lines and may need a different solution.
Repairing a slab leak can be a tricky business, and hence it is better if you consult a professional rather than doing it on your own. Plumbers have specialized equipment such as pressure gauges, electromagnetic pipeline detectors, and cameras that can be used to make a definitive diagnosis. You will have to pay the service charges, but it would be better than causing damage on your own.