Water leaks beneath a home can cause massive, expensive damage to a foundation. Learn to recognize what the signs are so you can respond before it’s too late.
How To Fix a Broken Water Pipes Under the House?
Have you ever heard of a slab leak? It’s an industry term that refers to leaking occurring from a water pipe broken under a house, specifically below its concrete base, known as the foundation. This is one of the most serious problems that can happen to a home because if leaking water causes damage to the foundation, the damage can be irreparable. As a result, rectifying the problem can cost tens of thousands of dollars in worst-case scenarios and will still be very expensive, even in milder cases of foundation damage.
Obviously, no one wants to face that kind of structural and financial calamity. But how do you know there’s a water pipe broken under a house so that you can address it before it becomes a massive problem? After all, the earlier you catch the leak, the less expensive and extensive the repairs are likely to be. But you can’t exactly lift your house to check on the plumbing beneath it, and you don’t have any video monitors down there, either.
Signs of a Water Pipe Broken Under a House
Fortunately, there are a number of signs that indicate the possibility of a broken water pipe under a house. If you don’t know what to be on the lookout for, you might miss or misinterpret most of these signs, but if you do know what to look for, you’ll have a pretty good chance of detecting a leak, hopefully in time to avoid catastrophic damage and expenses.
So here are some common early-warning signs:
- Areas of wet grass around exterior walls when it hasn’t been raining and you haven’t been watering.
- Sections of carpet that are wet or damp when there hasn’t been a spill.
- Moisture on other parts of internal flooring, again when nothing’s been spilled or known to have leaked.
- Mold or mildew growing beneath carpets or rugs or at the base of drapes and curtains
- Musty odors in rooms when there’s no apparent source for them (like wet clothes someone’s left in a pile).
- Hearing rushing, running, or trickling water even though no faucets or other water outlets have been turned on. This can be easier to detect by getting down onto the floor and pressing against it; if you hear sounds of water below, it’s likely that there’s a leak down there.
- Noticing warm spots on the floor. There might be a leak in a hot water pipe. To check for this, take off your shoes and socks and walk from the water heater along the line to an outlet for hot water.
- Suddenly higher water bills without any apparent changes in usage levels or rates.
- Low water pressure. Sometimes this can indicate a clog somewhere or a malfunctioning water heater, but if you troubleshoot for these and eliminate them as a likely reason for the low water pressure, then take this as a serious sign of a water leak under the house.
- Dampness spreading up walls even though it hasn’t been raining and you haven’t seen any internal flooding.
Here are some more serious signs of water leaking under a house. Unfortunately, if you see any of these, there may already be major damage:
- Cracks lead from cracks in concrete or tile flooring and extend up walls.
- Areas of floors that have a raised, dome-shaped appearance (water may be pushing up there, warping the shape).
- Warping in any wooden boards.
If you see any of these, don’t troubleshoot or delay; call for professional help immediately so the damage, which is probably already bad, doesn’t get even worse.
What if you don’t see any signs but still suspect a leak? What if you just want to check into the possibility of a leak occurring under your home? There’s something pretty simple that you can do:
- Turn off all water outlets (faucets, taps, dishwashers, laundry machines, toilets, etc.).
- Go to your water meter and take a reading from it. Make a note of it.
- Wait for 15 minutes, keeping all water outlets out of use.
- Now go back to the water meter and take another reading.
- If the number has gone up, then water is leaking somewhere. In addition to incurring damage that may be very expensive to repair, you’re also paying for water that you aren’t using, so you’re getting hit twice.
How to Detect and Repair a Water Pipe Broken Under a House
Once you’re certain or pretty sure there’s a leak under your home, it’s time to take action, and there’s no time to waste in this situation.
- The first step is to locate the source of the leak(s). Seeing or hearing water in a particular spot typically helps you do this, but that isn’t foolproof. Water always follows the path of least resistance if it can, and it can sometimes pool in low or depressed spots even if the leaking is not that close by.
- Find the source of the leak and it’s somewhere you can access easily and you have some basic DIY plumbing skills. You may be able to do a water pipe repair without paying for the services of a professional plumber with a temporary fix, but if you’re not a professional, it’s time to call the pros.
- Unless it’s an emergency situation, take pictures, make notes, and get multiple quotes from different services.
Finding the source of a water leak often involves the use of specialized equipment, such as listening devices and CCTV cameras, that the average homeowner doesn’t have. Also, the repairs can be beyond the scope of what most people can handle themselves. How many people know how to cut into a concrete slab without making things worse and then replace or reroute pipes?
For peace of mind, it’s really best to call a professional when there’s a leak beneath a home. They’ll know how to find the source and will have the tools and the training to take care of the problem.