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How Do Plumbers Detect and Fix a Slab Plumbing Leak?

It’s bad enough if one of your pipes—exposed ones at that—is leaking. It’s worse when it’s a slab leak. Way worse.

Many consider a slab leak as one of the worst house-related problems a homeowner could ever face. A slab leak, after all, is a water pipe leak happening right beneath concrete or stone, typically in the foundation of your home.  That makes it a rather dangerous plumbing problem, as the leak could damage the foundation itself, or even spread from under the floors to your walls.

More often than not, homeowners wouldn’t be able to detect a slab leak until it has gotten really bad. Plumbers, however, can spot a slab leak using special tools, and perform expert plumbing repair without jack-hammering the foundation the way most contractors would recommend.

Tools for detecting slab leaks

Listening discs

The sound made by water leaking out of a pipe is very distinct, and plumbers are equipped with special acoustic listening discs that help them pick up that sound through inches of concrete. It also helps them pinpoint the exact location of the leak.

Electromagnetic pipeline locators

If the pipes under your slabs are non-metallic, plumbers will probably whip out their electromagnetic pipeline locator, which sends out electron signals and picks them up with a receiver. With this radio antenna-like tool, plumbers can map out the location of the pipe underneath and find out if there’s something wrong with it.

Video pipe inspection equipment

With a miniature camera mounted on the end of a fiber-optic cable, plumbers can look further down into any pipeline and pinpoint the exact location of the leak.

Fixing slab leaks

On the surface, it seems like the only way to fix a slab leak is to rip open the foundation to get to the problem pipes. While this traditional way of repairing a slab leak does get the job done, it can be costly and quite messy. There are, however, cheaper and less destructive approaches to fixing slab leaks.

Pipe relining

A less invasive route that many plumbers take today when dealing with a slab leak is pipe relining, which is a trenchless slab leak repair method that requires the installation of a CIPP or cured-in-place pipe within the existing pipeline. Cracks, holes, and joints will then be sealed once the epoxy lining hardens, effectively creating a new pipe within a pipe.

Pipe bursting

Meanwhile, plumbers who use the pipe bursting technique use specialized equipment to ram a cone-shaped bursting head through the leaking pipe and destroy it. As the head obliterates the old pipe, a new one will be pulled into place.

Both techniques are less invasive than the traditional way, and that makes them quite popular among homeowners who hate the idea of seeing their property ripped to shreds.

If you suspect that you have a slab leak, don’t hesitate to call a reliable plumbing service to confirm your suspicions and fix it right away.