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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

The Single Biggest Plumbing Disaster You Want to Avoid

view-of-home-interiorOkay, that might be arguable, but trust us, this is one plumbing problem you just do not want to have, especially considering how far it might have already progressed—and that’s a slab leak.

Let’s face it, most of the plumbing in your home is hidden from sight. This makes it difficult to tell exactly where (or even if) a leak is occurring. Detecting and locating leaks often takes a skilled plumber with the right type of equipment to pinpoint the leak’s exact location in order to repair or replace the pipe with the least amount of damage possible.

But the slab leak—that’s tricky. A slab leak is one that occurs beneath the concrete foundation of your home. It can happen with either the cold water or hot water lines, though it’s more common in the hot water lines (80% of all slab leaks occur here). These leaks waste significant amounts of water and can lead to structural damage to your home, not to mention the development of harmful mold and mildew. Leaks in your hot water line also mean that your water heater is wasting energy.

How Do These Leaks Happen?

After all, if pipes are buried beneath the foundation of your home, they should be safe, right? Hypothetically speaking, yes, but there are still ways for them to accumulate damage:

  • Abrasion: Pipes often rattle around when water moves through them. This isn’t necessarily due to the movement of the water, but rather from the change in temperature causing the pipe to expand and contract. This motion can make the outside of the pipe scrape against the concrete, abrading it until it wears away enough for leaks to occur. This is one of the reasons that hot water line leaks are more common beneath the slab—the expansion from heat causes these pipes to shift around more.
  • Corrosion: Older homes have pipes that are made from metals which easily corrode. This includes copper! Copper is corrosion resistant, but not corrosion Chemicals in the water can trigger corrosion, as can contact with the wires that create electrolysis in the pipe. In some cases, it’s a better long-term solutions to have repiping done, instead of having the leaks repaired.
  • Ground Shifting: Our homes’ foundations are sturdy, but they’re not 100% stable. Of course, we don’t have to worry about things like earthquakes or sinkholes, but all it takes is a heavy storm to shift the soil just enough that the foundation will place pressure on a pipe and cause it to crack. This can also happen due to construction mistakes. This kind of slab leak is often the worst, since it can lead to extensive flooding.

“How Can I Tell If I Have a Slab Leak?”

If you feel a hot or cold spot on your floor in your home, hear water running but can’t find the source, or have high water bills you can’t explain, then chances are you have a leak somewhere beneath your slab. The only way to know for sure is to contact a pro to do leak detection work and help you determine the best next steps.

For expert plumbing service, installations, or maintenance contact Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Our knowledgeable plumbers serve the North Shore and Northwest Chicago suburbs. Rely on Reliance!

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