One of the problems we are often called upon to address in our foundation repairs in Washington, D.C., Metro (Manassas) is the issue of leaking concrete slabs. It’s common in homes that were built before the 1980s, and the reason is such homes weren’t built with moisture barriers.
Here, we look at the several reasons you could be experiencing leaks in your basement’s concrete slab and how best to resolve the problems we’ll point out.
Common Causes of A Leaking Slab
Some of the major causes of slab leakage in the basement are:
Poorly wrapped pipes: Hot water pipes are usually wrapped to prevent them from expanding and contracting within the concrete slab. If they were poorly wrapped before being laid down, they can wear out and leak.
Earth movement and settling: The soil under your slab foundation can move, similar to what happens in an earthquake. Shifty soils will exert tremendous pressure on your buried water lines and cause them to crack and leak over time.
Chemical reactions: Sometimes, copper pipes that carry hot water react with various soil minerals. Corrosion may start from the pipes’ exterior to the inside. Over time, such reactions will slowly eat away the water pipes and cause leakages.
Damaged or weakened water lines: Water lines that go under the concrete slab might have experienced minor damage such as small nicks when the concrete was being poured. While the damage may not result in sudden leaks, they can weaken your pipes and grow into a leak-causing crack.
Leaky hoses and appliances: If your hose is loosely attached to the water softener or your water heater leaking, water could make its way into your concrete slab.
Leaky drains and pipes: Whenever water travels through your drains or pipes, there’s the potential for leaks if these systems were poorly installed or damaged. Make sure you check the drain pipes running throughout your home.
You can avoid water leaks by installing a polyethylene vapor barrier that helps stop water leakage.
Signs You Have Slab Leakage
Keep an eye out for these signs:
Unusually high water bills: Check your water bills over time. If you notice you’re suddenly paying more than normal for water without an increase in usage, you might have a leak. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to experience a 25 percent jump in water bills due to the constant dripping.
Sound of running water: If you can hear water running below the slab but there are no open faucets around your house, it’s another sign you have a slab leak.
Damp carpet and baseboards: Water leaks due to plumbing issues or poor drainage after a rainstorm can result in water seeping through your concrete slab and soaking your carpets or baseboards. Warm spots on any part of your concrete floor are a sign of a hot water leak.
Mold and mildew growth: Both microorganisms appear when there’s unwelcomed moisture indoors. Not only are they unpleasant, but they can also ruin your carpets and cause respiratory health.
Water pooling around your home: Check the exterior drainage system and make sure water flows away from the foundation after a rainstorm. Pooling water is never a good sign.
Modern testing techniques such as electronic amplification and hydrostatic testing let you locate water leaks on your slab foundation without tearing open the slab.
Options for Leak Repairs
If you’re certain that you’re experiencing slab leaks, here’s what you should do to rectify the problem.
Repair leaky pipes and appliances: Ask your plumber to fix leaky pipes and a technician to repair appliances to add water seepage. The age, material type, and condition of your plumbing will decide whether the job calls for a leaky pipe repair or a complete re-piping of the water lines below your home.
Seal foundation wall cracks: Once you identify the leaks, ask a basement waterproofing expert from JES Foundation Repair to help you remedy the issue. We can fix minor leaks using hydraulic cement.
Replace the piping: The best cure for rusted pipes with multiple leaks is total replacement. Modern piping and fitting materials are durable and more secure than older systems. You can reroute the water so it doesn’t pass through the slab.
Rerouting water lines: In some instances, it makes sense to reroute plumbing that’s above ground. Your plumber can work around by installing new water lines. Rerouting is a cheaper and less disruptive fix to the problem.