Some homes are built without a basement or crawlspace, instead locating the larger comfort systems (HVAC, water heaters, etc.) in the attic or utility rooms. These homes are supplied with water in the same manner as others, but the waterline penetrates the home through the slab, or the solid concrete foundation on which the home is built. The main waterline generally penetrates the slab at or near the water heater, but branches out underneath the slab to different parts of the house to feed the home's plumbing fixtures, jutting up through the slab at each location and supplying the faucets, toilets, etc. In older homes, the waterlines were made of gray poly (see "Water Line Repair" section), and were subject to constant problems. Being buried in the ground under the slab, the gray poly lines would frequently burst or split due to contact with rocks, or suffer similar problems due to temperature changes. But most of all, it was due to gray poly's inferiority as a product. Copper pipes were also used under some homes, and were less prone to leaks. Often times, leaks on copper waterlines under the slab were attributed to the pipe not being properly wrapped or protected. Regardless, water leaks under the slab were problems for obvious reasons, with access to the pipes being impossible without destroying sections of the home's foundation.
When a slab leak occurs, the most common sign is a dramatic increase in your monthly water bill. On occasion, if a hot waterline is the culprit, you will feel a temperature increase on the floor while walking in bare feet. Whether the break is on a hot or cold line, leak detection (see "Water Leak Detection" section) services will be necessary to determine the exact location of the leak. We offer this service at a very competitive rate, and will work the cost into the cost of the repair. Leak detection requires very specialized equipment designed to pinpoint water leaks in almost any location within a home. The equipment is very accurate, usually within inches.
Once the leak has been successfully located, accessing the leak is the next step. To do this, Any flooring in the area must be removed, stripping down to the bare concrete slab. Cutting or jack hammering of the concrete is then necessary to open a hole around the leak. Even then, the waterlines are buried to a depth up to 18 inches. After digging down to the waterlines and clearing away the mud caused by the leak itself, the repair can be made. After this is complete, the lines are pressure-tested to ensure proper operation. The repair is then wrapped, and the dirt is filled back into the hole. We then re-pour the concrete that was removed, leveling and smoothing the surface flush with the surrounding floor. After this new concrete is allowed to dry, the flooring can be repaired or replaced as necessary.
At times, drain lines under slab homes suffer breaks as well. This is often due to faulty initial construction. The drain lines sometimes separate or crack. The problem usually presents itself as a clog or slow-draining fixture, and can only be located with a drain camera. With the camera, the exact location of the problem can be determined, and the slab removed as with a waterline leak. The repair process is similar; fixing the piping, filling the hole, and concreting back over the spot, smoothing it out again. Before the concrete is re-poured however, we camera the newly repaired section once more to ensure that all repairs were successful. We then test the line with water to check for leaks. Once everything is covered up, the flooring may be repaired.
All slab leak repairs (on copper pipe) are warranted for 12 months as usual. However, gray poly leak repairs cannot be warranted due to the faulty nature of the product. Once it begins to fail at any point in the home, more leaks usually follow within a short amount of time. We recommend that a complete house re-pipe be performed to rectify this problem, as repair costs will quickly exceed the price of fully replacing all the water piping in the home. For the price of about two or three slab leak repairs, all the lines in the home could be brand new and fully warranted.