What Lies Beneath: The Scary Truth About What Causes Slab Leaks

If you have always lived in a home with a basement, you probably have no understanding of what slab construction or slab leaks are. A slab foundation is more common in dry, arid parts of the country where there is little concern for flooding. A slab foundation in a wetter environment can experience a lot of problems, all of which are more costly to fix because your home's plumbing is buried under a cement or concrete slab. There are several things that can cause a slab to leak, and cost you a scary amount of money to fix.

Drainage System Issues

Since basements were and are common in areas of the country with high annual precipitation levels, encountering a slab foundation is very unusual. The purpose of a basement is to help contain, collect and/or disperse large amounts of water away from the rest of the home. Slab foundations do not have that luxury. In fact, construction workers who do not put a drainage system underneath the slab construction run the risk of water damage, mold and destruction. Many of the slab leaks uncovered in later years are the direct result of a poor drainage system or no drainage system at all.

Busted Pipes You Cannot See

A toilet installed into a home that has a basement is connected to a toilet stack. The easily accessible toilet stack makes it easier to see, diagnose, and repair plumbing problems, as does the exposure of all other pipes in the home. Unfortunately, you cannot tell that you have a toilet stack or pipe problem when you live in a home with a slab foundation. You cannot check the plumbing without jack hammering your way through the floor and/or removing your plumbing fixtures. By the time you realize you have a plumbing issue, the leaks under your slab have already caused at least a month's worth of damage.

Shifting Earth and/or Earthquakes

Finally, a slab foundation responds to the shifting earth underneath it. If you have ever seen a garage floor and its multiple cracks or unevenness, then you have witnessed a slab foundation's reaction to shifting earth. If your home is also on or near a fault line, then earthquakes can cause your buried plumbing to bend, brake, twist and/or pull apart. The terrifying part of these scenarios is never really knowing you have a problem until you receive a water or sewer treatment bill and witness the monumental amounts of water your home seems to be consuming.