Moisture in the basement is a common problem. Sometimes, it is caused by groundwater seeping in or condensation accumulating due to poor ventilation. But if you've explored these causes and still can't figure out why your basement is so wet, there's another possibility to consider: you might have a slab leak.
Slab leaks are leaks in the pipes that run under your home's foundation. Even a small crack or hole in a pipe can exude water that slowly seeps in through your foundation, keeping your basement moist regardless of whether you plug in a dehumidifier, open jars of desiccant, and take other common moisture-fighting measures. Read on to learn more about slab leaks.
How Can You Know If a Slab Leak Is to Blame?
Usually, when a slab leak is to blame for your basement moisture, you'll notice an increase in your water bills. However, if the leak has been happening for many months or years, this increase may have occurred long ago and gone undetected. Compare your water bill to those of neighbors with similarly sized families. If yours is much higher, this difference points to a slab leak.
Usually, when there is a slab leak, your basement floor will be the wettest part; you may notice wet carpet, bowed floor boards, or moldy flooring. Some homeowners can detect a faint sound of running water when the basement is quiet. Try sitting in the basement with all other appliances off. Have a family member turn on the water upstairs and see if you hear any trickling or rushing sounds.
The best way to know for sure if you have a slab leak is to call a plumbing company like Roto Rooter. They can send a camera down into your pipes to show the location and size of any leaks.
How Can You Repair a Slab Leak?
If your plumber does detect a slab leak, the good news is that repairing it should take care of your basement moisture issues. Depending on the size and location of the leak, there are three different solutions.
For smaller, pinhole leaks (which are more common than you'd think), the easiest solution is usually to drain the pipes and then apply an epoxy to the inside of the pipe. The waterproof epoxy will seal the hole and stop the leak. This repair can usually be done without removing or damaging your foundation.
For somewhat larger leaks, a good solution is to install a new pipe that goes around the damaged section of pipe like a highway bypass. The old pipe is sealed off so no more water can travel though it or leak out of it.
In the most severe of cases, you may need to have the entire network of pipes beneath your foundation replaced. Usually, if the leak is severe enough to require re-piping, you'll have serious moisture issues like water pooling in the basement and sky-high water bills.
Re-piping usually requires that an access hole be made in your foundation so the plumber can reach your old pipes and replace them. The repair will take a bit longer and require more extensive remodeling. You'll likely need to replace the flooring, too.
How Can You Prevent Additional Leaks?
When you have the slab leak repaired, it's important to talk to your plumber about what caused the slab leak. The newly discovered information will allow you to take actions to ensure your pipes don't develop more leaks in the future. Common causes of slab leaks include:
- Shifting foundations putting pressure on pipes
- High water pressure
- Vibrations in the pipes that eventually lead to cracks
You may need to have foundation repair experts come stabilize or modify your foundation to prevent pressure and vibrations that may lead to future leaks. If high water pressure contributed to your slab leak, your plumber may recommend modifying your pipe placement or installing a depressurizing device to prevent additional cracks.Slab leaks can cause costly damage to your basement. However, a good plumber can detect them, eliminate them, and help you take measures to prevent additional leaks.