In Oklahoma, many homes have been built on slabs — a thick, single-layer, concrete foundation commonly used in the clay soil that our state is known for. Slab foundations are cost-effective to install, but they can be vulnerable to damage. And one of the issues that Oklahoma homeowners may overlook for too long is a slab leak, which can be devastating to your home foundation if you don’t address it promptly.
Here’s what you need to know about a slab leak, how to spot the signs you may be having such a leak, and how to address the issue before it leads to costly, time-consuming plumbing and foundation repairs.
What Is a Slab Leak?
Homes that feature a concrete slab foundation typically have plumbing hidden underneath them. Those pipes can begin to leak — in other words, they have a slab leak. Because these pipes are hidden from view, homeowners may have plumbing or moisture problems happening underneath their home, without even realizing it.
But even though a slab leak may happen out of sight, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Moisture issues that affect your concrete slab can have big implications for the condition of your foundation.
What Causes a Slab Leak?
There are two main reasons you might end up with a leak that affects your slab foundation:
- 1. Plumbing problems — Your pipes may be leaking because they are old, damaged, or improperly installed. Pipes can come loose or be separated at joints, leading to leaks.
2. Soil expansion and contraction — Drought, a common problem in Oklahoma, can lead the clay soil around your foundation to contract. Excessive rain can cause the soil to expand, followed by extreme contraction once the soil dries out. And even tree roots can get underneath your slab and draw the moisture out of soil.
These periods of expansion and contraction can make your slab foundation shift, end up off-kilter, or even crack — which can all damage plumbing and cause a leak.
How a Slab Leak Affects Your Foundation
Put simply, a leak beneath your foundation affects the soil where your slab rests, causing a number of issues that can damage your foundation:
- • A large leak can soak the clay soil that supports your slab, causing it to wash away. As a result, the slab can drop, crack, or shift.
- • A slow leak can increase the cycles of soil expansion and contraction happening beneath your home. This increased expansion and contraction can cause your foundation to bulge and crack.
- • Moisture can creep into existing cracks in your concrete, making them worse and causing your foundation to shift and weaken your home.
Either way, the end result is that your slab foundation can end up damaged, threatening the structural integrity of your home and lowering its value.
Signs You May Be Dealing with a Slab Leak
So, how do you know if you’re dealing with a potential plumbing leak beneath your concrete slab foundation? Here are some common symptoms of a slab leak to look for:
- • A large increase in your water bill — Slab leaks can generate as many as 20-50 gallons of water a day, so you may see that water loss impact your utility bill.
- • Wet floors and carpeting — A slab leak can seep upward into your carpet padding. If your floors and carpet are unexpectedly wet, it may be due to a slab leak.
- • Mold, mildew, and rot in flooring — If you’re seeing signs of moisture damage on your floors, especially carpet, a slab leak may be responsible.
- • Pest infestations — Moisture and foundation damage can draw in termites, ants, and similar insects. So, a sudden pest infestation may signal a slab leak.
- • An older home — Prior to the 1980s, homes were often constructed without the installation of a moisture barrier between the slab foundation and the subfloor. So, if you have a home that was built before the 1980s (and especially in the 1940s-1950s), your home is more likely to experience a slab leak at some point.
How to Handle a Slab Leak
Ultimately, any issues you have with your foundation should be inspected and repaired by foundation repair professionals. You receive many advantages when you have a foundation company check out your slab and address any leaks:
- • Your home’s value is preserved, protecting your investment.
- • Your home’s integrity is enhanced, keeping you and your loved ones safe.
- • Your peace of mind is assured, knowing that you’ve done everything needed to keep your home in tip-top shape.
If you suspect you may have a slab leak or you’re seeing other signs of foundation issues, such as cracks in walls or sagging floors, don’t ignore those signs. Address them promptly and smartly by calling on the trusted, expert foundation repair team at Edens Structural Solutions.
Comprehensive Foundation Repairs from the Team You Can Trust
At Edens Structural Solutions, we know how stressful it can be to feel unsure of your foundation’s condition. Foundation issues can lead to worry and even feeling unsafe in your own home—which no homeowner should have to endure.
That’s why for over 34 years, we have helped over 200,000 Oklahoma homeowners fix their foundation problems for good. We believe you deserve to enjoy a home that functions just as it should, keeps you and your loved ones secure, and retains its value. Our concrete slab repair process restores your slab foundation to excellent condition.
If you have signs of a slab leak, or you’re seeing signs of damage that you’re worried about, get the peace of mind that a foundation inspection can offer. Contact us for a free inspection and estimate, and get your home back to its safe, secure, beautiful condition.