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How to Determine if a Water Pipe is Broken Under a Slab - Pandora

Posted by Bill Fenwick on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 @ 11:44 AM
slab leak project

When it comes to your plumbing, most people don’t even think about it until there is a problem. In most cases, plumbing leaks in Jacksonville FL are noticeable before they cause extensive damage by leaving water stains, soft spots, and a musty odor behind.  But what if the leak happens in your concrete slab foundation?

Signs of a Slab Leak
In most cases, because the water pipes are located beneath your floors and gravity will keep the plumbing leaks in your Jacksonville FL home away from your floors, it will be difficult to know you have a leak until your utility bill shows up. It might be reflected in the water bill alone if the leak is in one of the cold water pipes, but you might also feel some sticker shock on the electric or gas side of the bill if the leak is in a hot water pipe. Some of the signs of a water leak under your slab include:

  • You see that your water meter seems to be spinning at a higher rate than normal, or you notice that the water heater runs more often. 
  • You find a warm spot in the floor. 
  • You find wet spots on the floor.
  • You can feel a soft spot in the floor as you walk over it.
  • You can hear water running in the pipes, even when you don’t have any water turned on.
  • You've noticed ants or other pests more commonly lurking around and in your house.
  • You've discovered new cracks in the walls or floor.

It's important to note, though, that these signs may be subtle, if they exist at all. 

Finding a Slab Leak
Locating a leak under the concrete slab of your house is a painstaking procedure. While feeling a soft spot or warm spot in your floor might indicate a leak, it doesn’t necessarily indicate where the leak is located. Water has the ability to travel quite a distance before making an obvious sign. 

Locating a leak under a slab is a two step process.

1. Locate your house’s pipes.

2. Use an electronic leak detector to pinpoint the location of the leak. 

Repairing a Slab Leak

Once the leak is isolated, repairs can be made. In most cases, the damaged pipe will need to be cut away and replaced with new pipe or pipes that have to be rerouted using a form of trenchless technology.

Direct Access

While direct access to the pipes is usually the easiest way to access the under slab plumbing, it is usually not the best approach, since there is a high possibility that other structures will be damaged in the process. However, if the other options are simply not available, direct access by cutting through the concrete, cutting away the damaged pipe, and soldering the two ends to a copper connector is in order to repair the damage.

The final steps in the repair of plumbing leaks in Jacksonville FL will mean the difference between a successful repair and one that fails in a few months to a year.  Test the repair by turning on the water and ensuring that there are no leaks. If everything is dry, remove the wet dirt from around the pipe, replace it with dry sand and top it off with concrete. After the concrete dries, the hole can be covered.   

Re-routing Pipes

While it’s a little more labor intensive, rerouting pipes is preferable to direct access, as there is no need to break through the concrete slab. When rerouting pipes, it is important to locate the pipes and figure out a way to run new piping around the trouble spot. Sometimes this involves running new pipes through the walls or attic. 

Home insurance often pays for all or most slab leak repair work, and it is best to call in the professionals to locate and fix the plumbing leaks in your Jacksonville FL home.  Having a professional plumber come in to evaluate your situation will not only save you time and money repairing the leak yourself, but the work will also come with a guarantee, meaning that if the repair fails, they will fix it again, free of charge. In addition, professional plumbers have access to tools that allow them to locate the leak and make the repairs more quickly than if you attempt to do it on your own.

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Tags: Jacksonville plumbing, Bill Fenwick Plumbing, 24/7 plumbing jacksonville

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