Slab Leaks in Birmingham, AL
Slab Leak Detection and Repair
When it’s been determined that a water line has failed under a slab, there are three options.
One major cause is incompatible soil; that is soil that has some ingredient that causes a chemical reaction, when coming into contact with copper, called electrolysis. This can happen a few months, or a few years after the initial installation, or even several years later. In this case and it’s one of the most common causes, total replacement of all under slab copper water lines is not only the proper and best choice, but will be dictated by future slab leaks.
Another cause of slab leaks is improper wrapping of exposed piping. That is, piping that could come in contact with other unprotected lines, rebar used for concrete footing reinforcement and even electrical conduits, or heating duct work. A water line, especially a hot line, will move somewhat when in use, or in the case of hot water lines, as the water changes temperature, it will expand and contract. This movement can cause friction, though slight, that will eventually wear through. The indentation in the pipe will eventually wear through as the force of moving water gradually wears it down.
It is possible to jackhammer the slab and visually observe the cause. This is also, usually, the most economical repair, as well. Sometimes, however, the leak is under something that is expensive to replace, such as a bathtub, shower, tile floor, kitchen or bath cabinets, or a post tension slab. In such circumstances it becomes obvious that rerouting the offending section overhead, though more costly than a typical jackhammer and repair application, is considerably less costly than the alternative.
In all cases complete elimination of under slab water piping is best, once slab leaks occur. But in cases where it’s been several years since installation, there is no chronic occurrence in the neighborhood or nearby area and the first leak is on a cold water line, it might be a reasonable gamble to use the least costly alternative.