Our Desert Blooms as Spring Approaches, but Plumbing Slab Leaks Appear to Spoil the Show

by | Feb 27, 2019 | Emergency Plumbing Services, Plumbing Repair

Caliche!   Mention of that word caused widespread fear in the homebuilding industry here in the valley from the beginning.  Why?  Because the discovery of that rude, concrete-like sedimentary rock while excavating for a new homesite meant building costs just skyrocketed by tens of thousands of dollars.

The solution?  Omit the basement and build our Vegas area homes on slab foundations.

So, what does that fact have to do with our plumbing?  For starters, it means we do some basic things very differently in our design compared with homes in other parts of the country.

Hot- and cold-water supply lines as well as some sewage drain lines are placed beneath the slab during home construction.  When these water pipes develop leaks due to fractures from abrasion, corrosion or fatigue, the result is what we call a slab leak.

What Causes a Slab Leak?

We desert dwellers know that Las Vegas temperatures routinely reach upwards of 115 degrees Fahrenheit during any given summer and fall to below freezing at times during our winter months.  These temperature extremes cause thermal expansion and contraction, and at differing amounts depending on the material.  Consequently, the ground and your home’s slab foundation can creep, shift and settle against each other, causing damage to the plumbing that lies beneath the slab.

Other causes of slab leaks include plumbing that was damaged or incorrectly installed during construction, as well as corrosion or deterioration as a natural consequence of age.

What are the signs of a slab leak?

While they can sometimes be difficult to detect depending on their nature, some slab leaks have fairly obvious manifestations, one most obvious being a higher-than-normal water bill because it hits you squarely in the wallet.  A fractured supply line can leach hundreds of gallons of water or more straight into the ground beneath your home, silently without notice.

Sometimes you might be able to hear it, the ghostly sound of running water in a quiet house when no faucets are open.  Or you might feel its presence as an unusually warm spot in your floor.  If you experience these things and know how to access your water meter, take a look at it to see if its spinning away even though you’re not using your water anywhere in the house.

Other signs of a slab leak include soggy carpeting from water seeping in through a cracked foundation, peculiar odors, the sudden presence of mold or mildew, or a recent insect infestation.

Slab Leak Repair

There are a few different strategies that can be applied to fix the problem.  These include re-piping, which can be a bit costly because of the work involved cutting though floor and concrete to access the damaged pipes. 

Another less expensive approach is to install new plumbing rerouted above the foundation to replace the failed piping. 

There might be other options available for you as well, including a new repair method that relines your existing pipes to seal the leak.  Give us a call and we will discuss with you your options so you can decide what makes the most sense for your situation and budget.

How much is it going to cost me, and will my Insurance cover it?

The price to repair a slab leak of course depends on the details of your particular problem.  And although your homeowner’s insurance may cover the cost of fixing damages to your home caused by the leak, most policies do not pay for repairing the slab leak itself (check your policy or contact your insurance agent).

Slab leaks are generally one of the more costly plumbing problems a homeowner will encounter, however it doesn’t necessarily need to wipe you out.  Give us a call, and we will carefully diagnose your situation.  We will locate the leak, assess the extent of damages, and in most cases provide you with at least 2 different options to fix your problem.  We will examine and present all your repair options, and if the best solution winds up being a major undertaking, we have financing options that can help.  Give us a call!

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