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Slab Leaks – The Insidious Foe

If you own a home in Southern California and you don’t know what a slab leak is, it’s time to get educated right here – slab leaks can be an expensive home repair problem (and one that homeowners’ insurance rarely covers).

A slab leak is a leak in the plumbing underneath the concrete slab which supports your home. Slab leaks are more likely in Southern California because most homes have slabs beneath them for extra support in case of earthquakes. Also, older plumbing piping is made of copper, and copper can weaken and decay over time.

Slab leaks are an insidious foe – they are barely detectable until their damage is obvious and extensive. Symptoms of slab leaks include:

  • Hearing running water inside your home even when you know all the faucets are off.
  • Cracks in the floor or the walls.
  • Damp or mildewy carpets.
  • Warm spots in the floor (indicating a hot water leak).
  • A lump in the floor.
  • Higher water bills when your visible water use hasn’t changed.
  • Turning off your water, then checking your water meter and still seeing the indicator (small arrow) spinning.

In extreme cases, slab leaks can damage your foundation to such a degree that it is unsafe to stay in your home. Like other repairs, it’s best to catch a slab leak sooner rather than later.

Once you suspect a slab leak, it’s time to call your plumber. What happens after that?

  1. First of all, don’t allow a plumber to break into your slab foundation as the first resort. Thanks to technology such as electronic amplification equipment and electromagnetic pipeline locators, such preemptive destruction is not necessary.
  2. Once the leak is pinpointed, you’ll need to clear a wide space in the room where the leak is located, and have plastic sheeting covering everything else in the room. The plumber will use a jackhammer to open the precise spot where the leak is located. There will be dust flying, and maybe mud as well.
  3. After the plumber has made a hole in the slab, he will dig until he finds the pipe – usually eighteen inches below. Copper pipes are repaired with couplings soldered in. Plastic pipes are simply removed and replaced. Another method of repair is filling the pipe with an epoxy substance. It may be advisable to repipe the line, or even your entire home, via the walls and ceilings – which sounds daunting, but it’s still easier than tearing apart the slab.
  4. Expect slab leak repairs to last two days – one day for detection, the other for repairs.

If you suspect a slab leak, go to for the best plumbers in Southern California. Our long list of customer-rated professionals will help you fix this all-too-common problem – so you can get back to the business of enjoying your summer!


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