What Homeowners Need to Know About Causes, Warning Signs and Repairs for a Slab Leak in Edmonton

Wet floors in a residential basement that is being affected by serious, widespread flooding from a slab leak.

Do you notice some strange problems around your Edmonton home, like damp carpet, musty, moldy smells, or hot spots on the floor? If a part of your floor always seems to be warm and you don't have in-floor heating, or your utility bill suddenly spikes to a surprisingly high charge, something suspicious is going on. The likely culprit is a slab leak.

As an Edmonton property owner, you’ve probably heard the term "slab leak" before—but what exactly is it? What causes it? How do you know if you have a slab leak? And how can you get it repaired? It can be a frustrating, worrisome, and stressful problem—which is why we’ve put together this guide to everything homeowners need to know about slab leak symptoms, causes, and solutions.

If your suspicions are confirmed and you’re pretty sure you have a slab leak, don't panic! The team of Edmonton plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton is experienced in slab leak detection and long-lasting, effective repairs. We know exactly what to do to get your slab leak taken care of, so you can have peace of mind again.

What is a Slab Leak?

Most homes in Edmonton are built over top of concrete slab foundations, and that concrete has plumbing pipes buried underneath it. The pipes can become corroded or damaged and develop a slab leak that lets water seep into the soil beneath your house’s foundation. If your plumbing system springs hidden leaks above ground, behind your walls, or under your floor, those are usually referred to as pinhole leaks.

Needless to say, moisture can cause extensive damage over time that can have a severe impact on the entire building’s structural integrity. Water erodes the soil under your concrete, washing it away and leaving your slab without support. The concrete foundation can develop stress cracks and the entire house can begin to sink into the ground. In very severe cases where a slab leak is left untreated in Edmonton, part or all of the building may collapse. It also creates other nasty hazards and can cost you an arm and a leg on your monthly water bill.

Warning Signs You May Have a Slab Leak in Edmonton

As we mentioned, slab leaks are notoriously difficult to find. But, there are some telltale signs that strongly indicate the presence of a slab leak in Edmonton or at least a serious issue with your plumbing system. If you’re aware of potential symptoms, you can get a local Edmonton plumber to investigate and fix the problem before it gets much worse and has serious consequences for the safety and stability of your house.

  • Inadequate Water Pressure: Has your water pressure slowed to a weak, unsatisfying trickle? That’s common in many Edmonton homes. It could be that water is being diverted by a hidden slab leak in your supply line.

  • Sound of Running Water: You should not be able to hear the sound of water running in (or under) your house when all your fixtures are shut off. Audible water noise is a common sign of trouble in Edmonton homes, and if you’re hearing it in your basement, it may be a slab leak.

  • Warped or Wet Flooring: A big, soggy wet patch on your carpet, or a hardwood floor that is warping and heaving from moisture incursion, may seem like the result of a leak inside your house. But it can actually be caused by an underground broken pipe. Excess water usually has nowhere to go except up, so it can seep through or around your foundation and affect your indoor flooring.

  • Unpleasant Smells: Hidden damage in a ruptured sewer main under your home could also result in sewage seeping out—and that sewage comes with smells. If you smell sewage, particularly in your basement, and can’t see a source for the odor, it could be an issue below your foundation.

What Could Cause a Slab Leak in Edmonton?

Now that you know some of the symptoms that indicate you may have a slab leak, you might be wondering how it even happened in the first place. We won't know the exact cause of your home's problem until we’re able to inspect the pipe, but this issue in Edmonton homes is most commonly caused by one (or a combination) of these factors.

  • Ground Shifting and Settling: It’s natural for the ground to shift and settle over a long period of time, so pipes that have been buried for decades can be damaged that way. Shifting can also be caused by earth tremors, though that’s not so common in Edmonton and vibrations from heavy construction nearby.

  • Faulty Installation or Construction Damage: Sometimes pipes aren't installed correctly in the first place, which causes them to become damaged before their time. And sometimes they’re damaged while the house is being constructed.

  • Corrosion: Some pipes are made of metal, particularly older pipes in Edmonton. Since they are buried underground, it makes sense that they slowly corrode over a long period of time. That corrosion weakens the pipe walls to the point where they can eventually develop a hole.

  • Frozen Pipes: This is a particular problem in Edmonton's climate. There is usually water sitting in your pipes. When the coldest months hit, that water can freeze and expand, breaking the pipes.

How Do Edmonton Plumbers Detect a Slab Leak?

When a broken pipe is buried underneath a massive concrete slab, it can obviously be difficult to figure out exactly where the problem is. Our team of expert plumbers has a wide range of water leak detection equipment at their disposal, not to mention a lot of experience providing slab leak detection services in Edmonton. If you’re experiencing problems that make you think you have a potential slab leak, we’ll figure out the nature and location of the problem and make an educated recommendation for the best solution.

Video Camera Inspection

If you’ve ever wished you could get a good look inside your pipes and find out what is going on in there once and for all, well... now you can! The best part is, you don't need to cause a bunch of damage to your house and property to do so. When your slab leak is drainage related, this can be a great tool to find the break in your pipe.

With video camera inspection, a small video camera with a bright LED light is attached to a flexible cable and lowered into your drain. Your licensed plumber then maneuvers it through the pipe while it records footage. A review of that video can reveal the location of the issue, however, if the drain isn’t clean it won’t reveal much. If you’re planning to sell or buy a house in Edmonton, a video camera inspection is also a great tool to prove that the pipes are in good condition.

Infrared Detection Equipment

If there is water constantly running under your slab, it changes the temperature of the soil and concrete around it. We can use infrared imaging equipment to create a heat map of the area that shows temperature changes in walls, floors, and even concrete. This technology can be helpful in some cases, however, if your slab is already flooded it won’t be much help.

What Are the Options for Repairing a Slab Leak in Edmonton?

When you think about the process of repairing or replacing a damaged pipe, you may be imagining a nightmare of ripped-up floor, foundation, and landscaping. That was typical in the past, but fortunately, the professionals at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton now have far more efficient and less invasive techniques for repairs that cause minimal disruption to your home and life. The repair method needed will vary according to the nature and location of the damage, but there are generally three options available for Edmonton homeowners:

Pipe Lining: If the damage is not too severe and the rest of the pipe is in relatively good condition, we may opt to reline the pipe with a flexible sleeve. The sleeve is pulled through the whole section and then left to cure and harden. It lines the pipe with a strong, durable layer that stops leaks and is resistant to problems such as tree root intrusion. Learn more about it with our answers to frequently asked questions about pipe lining in Edmonton.

Rerouting: In a situation where a section of pipe is in really rough shape, it may make more sense for your plumber to reroute the line to bypass that segment.

Repiping: When a slab leak is just one overt symptom of an aged or seriously damaged system, a pipe replacement is the best solution. Repairs will not be as effective and long-lasting. A replacement can often be accomplished with trenchless methods that eliminate the need to rip your foundation apart.

Do You Need Help with a Slab Leak in Edmonton?

A potential slab leak is an aggravating, stress-inducing problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Whether you’re in Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, or another part of the greater Edmonton area, you can rely on the team of plumbing experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton to find and repair your slab leak efficiently and effectively.

Pick up the phone and give us a call today to book an appointment for Edmonton plumbing repairs, or to chat with our friendly customer service representatives about what we can do to get your plumbing system in perfect condition!