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How Do Slab Leaks Start in the First Place?

slab-leak-crack-in-foundationWe’ve addressed the topic of slab leaks on our blog before, but here’s a quick rundown. Slab leak is a professional plumbing term for any pipe leaks that occur down in the concrete foundation of a building. The term can sometimes apply to any pipe leak in hardscape or rock, but for the purposes of your home we’re using it for the hot and cold water pipes under your house.

Slab leaks, as you can probably imagine, are a tricky problem. They’re difficult to detect, locate, and then reach. Our plumbers have the best tools to narrow down where the leaks are occurring so we can make the repair job as brief as possible and with little disruption to the house.

But what causes buried pipes to start to leak in the first place? There are several sources:

Corrosion in older pipes

Depending on how old your house is, it may have pipes made from outdated metals such as galvanized steel and cast iron. These metals are prone to corrosion over time and eventually must be replaced. If you experience slab leaks because of corroded pipes more than fifty years old, we strongly recommend you invest in extensive repiping to upgrade to copper and plastic pipes.

Chemical reaction with the water

If your home has copper pipes, you might think you’re safe from corrosion. Copper is, after all, corrosion resistant. But that doesn’t mean it is corrosion proof. There are types of corrosion that can affect copper. Exposure to certain chemicals in the water can lead to pinhole leaks along copper, and these chemicals are more common than people would like to think. You may want to look into installing a water treatment system along with fixing the leaking pipes.

Abrasion from movement

Pipes rarely stay completely still. They can rattle around as water moves through them, causing abrasion along the stone in the slab. This most often occurs in the hot water lines, since rises in temperature cause metal to expand and then contract. Around 80% of slab leaks occur in hot water lines because of this.

Ground shifts

The ground under your house can shift due to erosion and water. You may not notice this (maybe a creak from the house settling), but it can cause trouble in the slab that places pressure on the pipes—even causing them to break or crack.

No matter the source of a slab leak, it’s a serious issue! Slab leaks lead to large water waste that increases water bills, and since most leaks occur in the hot water lines, they also cause energy waste with the hot water. Slab leaks can also put the foundation of your house in jeopardy or send water gushing up through cracks. Call for professional plumbing in Montpelier, VT the moment you think you have a slab leak—or any hidden leak—and let the experts use their magic (i.e. skill and advanced technology) to locate and fix it.

Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Call us anytime you need plumbing or HVAC service.

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