Nearly all homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are built on concrete slabs because the soil is very unstable. Slab foundations may reduce some of the structural risk to your home, but it won’t completely eliminate it. But these problems can be reduced with the help of your certified plumber.
Soil Shift Causes Plumbing and Slab Leaks
Most of the soil in The Dallas-Fort Worth metro area has a high content of clay. This highly expansive type of soil can withstand long drought periods. It expands in the summer and shrinks in the winter. Introduction of large amounts of water causes it to expand, subjecting foundations to pressures from underneath. When water is withdrawn, these clay soils will contract creating cracks in the ground. If the soil moves too much, pipes can break or leak. A leak can cause the soil to shift even more, making the problem worse. Even small leaks can cause significant results. A leak the size of a pinhead can waste up to 360,000 gallons per year, which would fill 12,000 bathtubs to overflowing.
In some extreme cases, the slab and flooring can heave upward, flooding the ground floor of the home, which may damage flooring, furniture and appliances. A leak can also erode the soil beneath the slab and cause it to cave in. When the slab foundation fails, the weight of the concrete damages the plumbing lines beneath, which may cause water to flow into the home.
Why are water pipes installed under slabs? One reason is cost. It is much cheaper to install pipes from the meter to the fixtures, than to run them above ground in an attic or between floors. Less material is used and no drilling, strapping, or protection is necessary. Overhead pipes can be also be heard when the water is in use. Some people find it annoying. Little can be done to eliminate the noise without soundproofing the walls and ceilings. Another reason is water temperature. Water pipes installed in attics are exposed to extreme temperatures, especially heat. A cold water pipe that runs several feet in an attic to an isolated fixture may take several minutes to deliver reasonably cold water. Hot water lines are affected less because they are insulated to reduce heat loss. Insulation has very little effect on a water pipe broiling in the 140-degree heat of an attic.
Slab leak detection and foundation repair are essential to keep your home’s foundation stable. It’s much easier (and less expensive) to locate a leak than to do major repair work afterward.
- You hear the sound of water running when no taps are open
- You have foundation cracks
- You have discolored flooring, such as darkened hardwood
- You smell bad odors coming from floors or walls
- Grass of foundation plants grow unevenly
- There is a visible shift in the soil around your home
- You have warm spots on the slab floors
- Your water bill increases for no obvious reason
Detecting a leak early is an important part of assuring your home’s plumbing system is functioning efficiently and safely. Berkeys Air Conditioning and Plumbing recommends annual plumbing tune-ups as the best way to repair little problems before they have a chance to become big problems. A lot of money can be saved on high water bills and you may avoid spending thousands of dollars on foundation repair and home restoration.
Our licensed plumbers will perform a complete tune-up on your home’s plumbing system and fixtures, including a water pressure test. Low pressure may indicate a leak. Berkeys BAM Plan includes your plumbing tune-up as well as your central air conditioning and heating tune-ups on all systems, and the cost is only $99 per year.
You can call Berkeys Air Conditioning & Plumbing 24/7 at 817-481-5869 or visit www.Berkeys.com for questions and scheduling information or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Berkeys.