Most Southern California homes sit on a concrete slab foundation. Much of their plumbing runs directly through pipes in the slab.
If this sounds like the recipe for a plumbing disaster, it can be. Leaks in the slab are difficult to detect and even harder to repair.
A “slab leak” occurs in, under, or around the slab foundation. It’s a common cause of mold growth, house flooding, and sewage backup. It’s a genuine threat to the structural integrity of your home.
In a worst-case scenario, your insurance company may not cover the repair cost. You’ll face a hefty bill or the real possibility of having to move.
Slab Leaks Are an “Old Plumbing” Problem
Slab leaks rarely occur in new buildings. If they do, it’s usually because of:
- Faulty construction
- Shifting or vibrating soil
- Poor-quality plumbing pipes
But homes built before 1980 are highly vulnerable to slab leaks, especially if they sit on shifting or corrosive soil and have never been repiped.
How to Spot a Slab Leak
Most slab leaks start as tiny pinhole leaks barely visible to the naked eye. Worse, the leak may be buried deep in your home’s foundation. You’ll never find it without special equipment. So you’re left to search for symptoms of a leak, which can include:
- Mold growth in or around the foundation
- Puddles of water near the foundation
- Running water in wall cavities or closets
- Unexplained higher-than-normal water bills
- Hissing, gurgling, or rumbling sounds coming from beneath the slab
Call a plumber immediately if you notice any of these things.
Realistically, your first indication of a slab leak may be a flooded living room, at which point you’re facing an invasive and expensive repair. That’s how fast a pinhole leak can turn into a full-blown pipe burst.
The repair itself can take weeks or even months.
- A plumber will pinpoint the leak and shut down the water in your house. He’ll excavate the source of the leak and replace the damaged pipe and other badly corroded lines. Depending on the extent of the damage, pipe bursting or cured-in-place repair may be your most affordable option.
- Teams of specialists, some in hazmat suits, will descend on your home. They’ll rip up the flooring and remove moldy drywall, insulation, etc. Huge drying fans will run day and night.
- Areas affected by mold may need several rounds of chemical treatment.
- Construction workers will patch the concrete foundation. They’ll install new flooring, insulation, drywall, baseboards, etc.
- Painters will paint the new drywall and baseboards. They’ll repaint several walls if they can’t match your paint exactly.
Slab leak repair is definitely not a DIY affair.
If the process sounds disruptive, that’s because it is. You may have to check into a hotel for a few days.
A Smart Leak Detector: Your Best Defense Against Slab Leaks
A leak detector is a device that monitors the water in your plumbing system.
The best leak detectors have smart learning capability and Wi-Fi connectivity. They look at water pressure, temperature, and use patterns, and analyze the data. If water pressure rises too high, they downregulate it. If water temperatures fall outside the normal range or water consumption spikes, they send alerts. Best of all, they can detect the tiniest pinhole leaks and automatically shut down the water to your plumbing before they cause catastrophic damage.
Orange Coast Plumbing sells and installs the Moen Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff, one of the best smart water leak detectors on the market.
How a Smart Water Leak Detector Works
- We install the water leak detector on your home’s main water line.
- The appliance takes 7-10 days to understand your patterns of water use.
- The Moen app gives you real-time alerts on your water use. You can set up the water shut-off limit and configure settings for home and away water use.
- The detector automatically shuts off water to the house in case of a leak.
Benefits of a Smart Leak Detector
Water damage is the second most common home insurance claim. A smart water leak detector calls for an upfront investment but will pay for itself over the appliance’s life.
- Protection from catastrophic water damage
- Lower insurance premiums
- Ability to control water flow from an app
- Insight into your daily water use
How to Save Money on a Moen Flo Inline Water Leak Detector
SoCal Water$mart has a rebate program for qualifying devices. It offers a base incentive of $100.
Your city water supplier or water district may offer additional rebates.
Many insurance companies are willing to work with homeowners. Some will schedule the installation of a leak detector and subsidize the cost, while others will offer discounts on premiums.
Please contact Orange Coast Plumbing to learn more about the benefits of water leak detectors and the rebate programs available in Orange County.