One question we are frequently asked involves the development of slab leaks and how they affect a building’s foundation.
Here in Texas, the two most common types of foundation are poured concrete slabs, and pier-and-beam foundations. The implementation of pier-and-beam foundations are more time-consuming and not as cost-effective for builders, therefore many construction companies prefer to build homes on cement slabs.
To create a cement slab, construction workers dig a few inches into the soil, and pouring concrete over top of metal rods that reinforce the concrete. Because there is no basement or crawl space beneath houses built in this style, plumbing and electrical systems are laid before the slab is poured, and thus encased inside the slab.
Often, the original piping in these homes is made of copper. Copper piping is relatively cheap, strong and easy to work with. However, in locations with high chlorine content in their water, the copper can develop leaks that are difficult to find. Since most of the piping resides in the actual concrete slab, (with the exception being the stub-ups for bathrooms, the kitchen, and the laundry room,) these leaks may not be immediately noticed, and once discovered, can be difficult to find.
Detecting the presence of a slab leak can be done in several ways. Occasionally a homeowner will hear water running, when all faucets are turned off. A homeowner may notice that the grass in closest proximity to their dwelling may appear lush and have a faster growth rate than the rest of the lawn, due to the presence of water seeping out from under their home. Of course, if the slab leak is severe, the presence of water inside the home, whether seeping up the walls, or entering through the flooring would also be a sign. To confirm the presence of a slab leak, a homeowner may turn off all sources of running water in the home, and then check the water meter. If the meter indicates that water is still being consumed by the home, it is time to contact a professional.
- Note: In most communities, tampering with a water meter is a fineable offense. Consult your local utility service before turning off water at your meter.
The presence of moisture can be one of the most detrimental dangers to a home or building. Usually a slab leak begins with a pin-prick size hole, which quickly expands into a serious stream of water. Running water from a slab leak can wear away at a building’s foundation. Because a slab “floats” on top of the soil, as water erodes the soil out from under the slab, it may cause your foundation to weaken, crack, and in very extreme cases, collapse. As seasons change, moisture inside small cracks and crevices in the slab will expand or contract, causing increase breakage in the concrete, further weakening the overall strength of the foundation.
Once a foundation has begun to move or shift, the structural integrity of the entire building is put at risk. Homeowners may begin to notice cracks developing in walls. Window glass may break for no apparent reason. Floors that once lay flat may begin to buckle. And, of course, because of the presence of water in the living environment, residents may notice the development of mold and fungi.
Fortunately for many homeowners, insurance companies may cover some of the costs involved in repairing the slab leak itself or the damage a slab leak has caused. This, of course, will depend on the coverage and the fine print in an insurance policy.
If you suspect your home is currently suffering from a slab leak or damage to its foundation, contact us. Don’t let a small problem turn into a monumental one. Our company has repaired over 15,000 foundations in the area, and would be happy to put our professional knowledge to work for you.