A leaky water line or drain pipe inside the home is usually an easy problem to spot. Even if there is just a small pinhole leak, you’ll eventually start to see fairly obvious signs of water damage on the wall, ceiling or floor. Slab leaks tend to be far more difficult to detect since all of the water leaks out underneath the floor of the foundation instead of inside the home.

Slab leaks are an extremely common problem for homes built on a concrete slab foundation since this results in most of the water lines and drain pipes running under the foundation. If left unchecked, a slab leak has the potential to do serious structural damage to a home. This makes it important that homeowners know what to look for and how to spot the signs of a slab leak.

Low Water Pressure Throughout the House

The most serious and potentially damaging problem is if a home’s main water line springs a leak. Most homes have a 1-inch main water line that can supply approximately 210 gallons of water per minute. If your main water line were ever to break, you’d be able to tell almost immediately since it would quickly start flooding your yard.

A smaller leak in the water main can be tougher to spot. The most obvious sign is if all of your faucets and other plumbing fixtures have decreased water pressure. If your main water line is leaking, there won’t be as much water flowing into your pipes. When the water flow is reduced, the pressure will also drop.

If the leak is quite small, your water pressure may remain normal when you’re only using one fixture. However, it will often cause the water pressure to suddenly drop any time you’re using multiple fixtures at once, say using the sink while running the dishwasher or washing machine.

High Water Bills

One of the most obvious signs that your home has a slab leak is if your water bill suddenly spikes from one month to the next. A tiny pinhole leak can waste nearly 3,000 gallons of water in just one month, which is about the same amount of water as the average American uses in a month. If you have a family of four, this means your water bill could suddenly increase by 20% or more if your home has even a small slab leak.

Water bills will typically show a record of your monthly usage over the past year so you can easily see how many gallons your home normally uses. Your water usage will obviously increase in the late spring/early summer when you start watering your lawn or garden, but it will then typically remain fairly consistent until the fall. If you notice your usage suddenly jumps and you weren’t using any more water than usual the previous month, it’s an obvious sign that you need to have your plumbing inspected.

Standing Water Around Your Foundation

Another thing to watch for is if the area next to the foundation is muddy or has puddles of standing water. A leak in one of the 1/2-inch hot or cold water supply lines can spill more than 1,000 gallons of water in just a day. As the water soaks into the surrounding soil, it will often lead to a large puddle forming on the side of the home just next to the foundation.

Foundation Is Settling

The biggest issue with slab leaks is that they can lead to the home’s foundation starting to settle. As the water leaks out, it will often start to erode the soil underneath the foundation. This erosion creates voids that cause the concrete to sink or settle. If your foundation does start settling, it can do major damage to your home and even threaten its structural integrity.

One obvious sign that your foundation is settling is if cracks suddenly start forming in your walls. You’ll also often start having issues with your windows and doors not opening and closing properly. In serious cases, large cracks can start to develop in the foundation floor itself and damage your flooring.

Sound of Running Water

In homes with a slab foundation, it is normal to hear the sound of water flowing through the pipes underneath the floor any time a faucet or other plumbing fixture is running. When all of your plumbing fixtures are off, the water will just stand inside the pipes. If a pipe has more than a pinhole leak, you will often be able to constantly hear water running through that pipe even when none of your plumbing fixtures are in use.

Wet, Warped or Damaged Flooring

Concrete is porous enough that water can slowly seep through it, which is why basements will sometimes flood after heavy rains. This means that a slab leak can lead to water starting to seep through the foundation floor and cause wet spots in your carpets. If you have wood or composite flooring, the water can also cause it to warp or buckle. If the leak is near a wall, the water can also start soaking into the sheetrock and leave wet spots down low on the wall.

Hot Spot on the Floor

The temperature of your floor can also help you to identify a slab leak. If a hot water line under the foundation is leaking, it will often result in the area of the floor near the leak feeling much warmer than the rest of the floor. A leaky hot water line will also result in your water heater running more frequently or running constantly if you have a tankless unit. If you have a tank water heater, you may also notice that your hot water runs out more quickly.

Dial on Water Meter Spins Continuously

If you suspect that your home has a slab leak, it’s a good idea to check your water meter. The dial on the water meter serves as a leak indicator that shows when your water is running. If no water is running inside or outside your house and the dial on the meter is spinning, it’s a sign that there is a fairly substantial leak in one of your water lines.

A pinhole leak typically won’t let out enough water to cause the dial to spin. However, it will cause the numbers on the meter to slowly increase. This is also something you can check for by making note of the meter reading before going to bed or leaving for work and then checking it again when you wake up or get home from work. As long as no one in your household used any water overnight or while you were away during the day, the numbers should be the same. If the reading has increased, it’s another sign that you need to hire a leak detection service.

Sewage Odors

A leak in one of the drain pipes underneath a slab foundation is often far more difficult to spot than leaks in a water line since it won’t lead to increased water usage. However, the wastewater and/or sewage can still soak into the concrete and make your home smell musty or give off a distinct sewage smell. If the drain pipe is near the edge of the foundation or your main sewer line is leaking, you’ll also typically start noticing a strong sewage odor outside.

If you suspect your home has a slab leak, you can trust the expert team at Healthy Home Heating & Air for help. We specialize in slab leak detection, and we can use specialized audio and thermal imaging equipment to listen and look for leaks. This allows us to quickly determine if there is a leak and pinpoint its exact location so that we can then move on to repairing it. Give us a call today for more information on our slab leak detection services or if you need any plumbing, heating or air conditioning service in the Charlotte area.

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