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Slab Leaks: Frequently Asked Questions

Has your plumber given you the news that you have a slab leak? Or perhaps a friend or neighbor told you about their experience with a slab leak. Wherever you heard about it, if you want to learn more about this type of plumbing issue, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, Orange Coast Plumbing answers frequently asked questions about slab leaks from our customers in Orange County. Read on to learn everything you need to know about slab leaks in our slab leak frequently asked questions from Orange County residents.

What is a slab leak?

Asked by James in Irvine

A slab leak is a leak in a water pipe just like any other, except that it occurs within a slab foundation. Many homes in Southern California are built on a slab of concrete or a concrete pad, rather than having a crawl space or basement. In these types of constructions, pipes are laid within the slab foundation, and when a pipe leak occurs, it’s called a slab leak.

What causes slab leaks?

Asked by Melanie in Garden Grove

There are many reasons a slab leak might occur. Sometimes they happen due to corrosion of old copper pipes, other times poor water quality damages pipes. Often, it’s just something that happens as buildings and pipes age. Another issue can be when the concrete slab shifts–it puts pressure on pipes and breaks them. Houses that are built on clay soils often face this issue as the clay tends to expand and contract with moisture, causing the concrete slab to shift more often.

We had rain for a few days, and then we noticed the floor was damp. We’ve never had drainage problems before, could it be a slab leak?

Asked by Josh in Mission Viejo

Slab leaks often cause a damp floor or even puddles and moisture on the floor. So, if you’re sure that you don’t have a drainage issue, you certainly could have a slab leak on your hands. It could be that the rain moistened things enough to make a smaller leak visible. You could check your water bill to see if you notice a difference from your usual monthly costs. An increase can help confirm a slab leak. A professional plumber such as the team at Orange Coast Plumbing can also help you identify a leak.

Our water bill was high this month, but we haven’t noticed any wet spots. Could we have a slab leak?

Asked by Samantha in Huntington Beach

As long as your water usage habits haven’t changed, then yes, it’s possible. Sometimes it takes a while for the water to accumulate and be noticeable. You can check to see if you have a hot water leak by touching your floor in different areas to see if you notice any warm areas. It’s also wise to consult with a professional who can help you determine if you have a leak on your hands.

Asked by Allison in Fullerton

There are many signs of slab leaks. Some of the most common include:

  • Water on the floor,
  • Dampness,
  • Drywall close to the ground or wood floors buckling and warping,
  • Tthe sound of water running when all of the taps and faucets are turned off
  • and feeling warm spots on the floor.

Warm spots are the sign of a hot water leak. Another clue can be damp spots around your foundation. Sometimes the water finds its way outside and creates damp spots on the ground instead of coming up through your floor. There’s one final clue that’s always a good indicator: an increase in your water bill that’s unexplained by any changes in water usage. If you notice one or more of these signs, you should consult with a professional who can help you confirm if there is a leak and pinpoint if you do have one.

How do plumbers locate slab leaks? I don’t want to have my whole floor pulled up!

Asked by Matthew in Irvine

Yes, Matthew, we understand, the thought of having your whole floor pulled up is certainly not a pleasant one! We try to be as minimally invasive as possible when approaching slab leak repairs by pinpointing the slab leak. How? We use special technology including listening devices, thermal imaging cameras, air tanks, moisture readers and more.

Hot water leaks are the easiest to detect using thermal imaging cameras because we can identify hot spots where the leak originates. With cold leaks, we use water pressure gauges to check each of the lines to see which of them has lower pressure, indicating a leak. Then, we use a special listening device to locate the precise location of leaks. Sometimes it’s tough to locate leaks when they are under a shower or bath, but a skilled professional can pinpoint any slab leak provided they have the right tools and technology.

How are slab leaks repaired?

Asked by Ben in Seal Beach

Once a leak is located, we can either re-route your line or do a direct repair. In a direct repair, we dig up a small area in your floor and repair the pipe, and then perform repairs to your floor. In a re-route, we remove the underground line and install a new one above ground. This is slightly less invasive and doesn’t involve pulling up your floor. We are happy to give you a quote for either option so that you can decide.

Sometimes slab leaks leave residual moisture in your foundation that must be aired out. Especially if the ground around your home is clay-heavy, this can be a difficult process. You may need to use fans and dehumidifiers to get your concrete slab back to an acceptable moisture level. Some companies also specialize in this, and you may need to speak with a professional in moisture control.

Now you should feel confident in your knowledge about slab leaks. You know what they are, what the signs are that one has appeared and how the professional teams at Orange Coast Plumbing work to locate and repair them. Over the years, we’ve seen many different slab leaks and successfully repaired them all. No matter how old or new your home is, we can help you pinpoint the leak, repair it and get on with your life. Trust Orange Coast Plumbing to help you with any slab leak you encounter for a speedy solution, quality plumbing, and lasting results.