If you're like most homeowners, then the last thing you that you want to think about is your foundation. It's the part of your house that should, in theory, require the smallest amount of maintenance and upkeep. Aside from defects in construction, there isn't much that goes wrong with a concrete foundation, right? While this might technically be true, it doesn't mean that there are never issues that need to be addressed. Of these, one of the costliest to address is a water leak beneath the foundation, commonly known as a slab leak.
Why Would Pipes Be Under Your Foundation?
Even if you aren't aware of them, odds are good that there are one or more pipes currently running beneath your foundation. If you use radiant heating in your basement, then this is one reason that a large number of pipes might be present, but, in most homes, the sewer lateral and main water line will run beneath the concrete foundation, as well. These are heavy duty pipes that are designed to last for a long time, but leaks are entirely possible. Even worse, you might not be aware that you even have a problem.
The Signs and Symptoms of a Slab Leak
It's generally a good idea to be aware of any signs that your home might have a plumbing problem that is currently going unnoticed. There are many potential symptoms, but, if the leak is minor, then you may only notice a slight increase in your monthly water bill that doesn't seem related to your actual usage. If the leak is more severe, then you might be able to actually hear it from inside of your basement. If you suspect that you might have a slab leak, listen closely for the sound of running water.
Unfortunately, the symptoms can get more serious and more costly as the problem progresses. Depending on where the water is leaking, it can begin to make its way up through the concrete. This might lead to dampness and mold growth or, if the problem goes on long enough, a floor that seems to be seeping water. In the worst-case scenario, it can cause your home's foundation to crack, as the ground beneath it washes away.
What Can You Do?
Although it may seem as though pipes below your foundation are forever entombed in the ground, the truth is that slab leaks are relatively common and there are a variety of techniques that are used to fix them. The first step is to have a professional plumber evaluate the problem so that they can discuss a course of action with you. Most likely, your concrete foundation slab will need to be torn up in at least one area, so that the problem can be repaired. Depending on the age of the pipes, the plumber may suggest replacing a larger section to avoid problems in the future.