Have you recently received a water bill that’s much higher than usual? If you haven’t filled a pool, had five extra visitors taking showers in your home, or begun watering your lawn, you might be perplexed by the cause of the increase. One possibility to consider is that you might have a slab leak in the pipes beneath your home’s foundation.
What Is a Slab Leak?
The term “slab leak” can refer to any leak in the pipes running beneath the concrete slab foundation of your home. Leaks can occur in sewage lines too, but in this case, the leak you’re looking for is one in the fresh water pipes that bring water into your home from the municipal water system.
What Are the Signs of a Slab Leak in Your Fresh Water Pipes?
When a slab leak first develops, the only sign you might notice is the increased water bill. Sadly, most homeowners don’t detect a slab leak very early, and the leak eventually causes bigger issues, such as:
- Moisture accumulation in the flooring materials in your basement
- Sudden mold and mildew growth in your basement
- Soggy spots in your basement floor
- Cracks beginning to form in your baseboards of basement walls
- A loss of water pressure throughout your home
Diagnosing your slab leak when the only symptom is an increased water bill puts you in a very good place. Many insurance policies will cover the cost of repairing a slab leak, but they don’t always cover extensive damage done to basements and foundations when a slab leak is left unaddressed for years.
How Can You Be Sure the High Bill Is Caused by a Slab Leak?
You can get one step closer to confirming your suspicions by doing a meter test. Turn off any appliances that use water in your home, and tell all family members not to use the water for the next 30 minutes. Also turn off the valves to your toilets, just to make sure a running toilet does not give you false positive test results.
Check your water meter, writing down the numbers displayed. Once 30 minutes have passed, check the meter reading again. If the numbers have increased, you have a leak somewhere. If you haven’t noticed water gushing through a wall or ceiling, it’s probably a slab leak.
Your next step is to call a plumber. They will run several tests to confirm that you do have a slab leak and pinpoint the location of the leak. Usually, this can be done without damaging your basement floor or foundation. Your plumber may use a device called an electromagnetic pipeline indicator, which is sent down the pipeline and used to detect leaks based on differences in water flow.
If You Do Have a Slab Leak, What Can Be Done About It?
Repairing pipes that run beneath your foundation is no minor feat. However, there are several ways your plumber may choose to make this repair based on the exact location and size of your leak. Common approaches include:
- Applying epoxy to the inside of the pipe to plug the leaking hole. This is done through two small access holes.
- Replacing the entire leaking section of pipe. This often requires removing part of the basement floor.
- Rerouting the plumbing to go around the damaged section of pipe. This solution is often recommended when accessing the damaged pipe would require substantial basement and foundation demolition.
Once your plumber has determined the extent of the leak, they’ll recommend the best solutions.
If your water bills have sky rocketed, it’s important to consider a slab leak as a possible explanation. The sooner you detect the leak and have it repaired, the less damage your home will suffer in the long run. Call Dr. Fix-It to schedule a consultation appointment. We’ll test your pipes to determine whether you have a slab leak and also provide you with a free estimate for repairs if needed.