Leak Detection and Slab Leaks 101 how it’s done. Frisco, Plano, McKinney and Allen
Domestic Systems Hot & Cold:
Leak Detection is as much an art as it is science and equipment. Having the proper equipment starts with a qualified technician (plumber) that has experience. The best hardware and equipment is nothing without a good locator technician. Make sure the company you hire has both.
What is a slab leak? A slab leak can be domestic water that you drink leaking under the concrete slab of your home. This is the pressurized water coming into your home. This leak is a constant and can usually be heard and detected by a noise of running water in some cases. One other symptom you have a domestic leak are higher than normal water bills. The other type of slab leak is the sanitary sewer or drain lines leaking under your concrete slab. This might be something you do not notice because everything is working fine.
I know I have a domestic leak how do you locate it? The first thing to do is to isolate the hot and cold water systems. This is done by turning off the ball valve or gate valve at the hot water heater. This valve might need to be changed if it is in poor condition or not working properly. If the leak stops at this point we know we have a leak in the hot side of the domestic system. If the leak continues we have a leak on the cold side of the system. Lets assume the leak is on the cold side. The next step would be to listen to the service valves at the appliances and fixture. This will give us a sonic or sound register. This sound register will tell us which end of the house to look for the leak in. The next step would be to energize the water lines under the slab in the effected area. We would locate the water lines and mark the slab for reference points. This will tell us how your water service runs under the slab. The next step is take sound reading with your leak locating equipment over the areas that you have located the lines. This first reading is with the water on. Next we turn off the water at the street and turn off the valve at the water heater and energize the system with air. The reason we do this is to localize the leak. We energize the system with air from 1 psi to over 20 psi. Warning if the system is PVC this could be dangerous. PVC is not rated for air and will void your warranty. Once the system is energized with air we take another set of readings and make a final determination as to the location of the leak. At this point we are able to give the customer an estimate for repairs.
What symptoms I have a sanitary sewer slab leak? In north Texas you might have foundation problems caused by a sewer slab leak under your slab. Other issues you might experience are mold issues, odors coming from drains, wet areas around your home and pest problems ( termites, ants, roaches and other home intruders.) Again the sewer system might be working fine but these issues can surface before the sewer has a problem.
Sanitary Sewer Slab Leaks
Finding your sewer leak under slab. The first thing to finding a sewer leak is knowing that you have one. The way to test a sewer leak is through a static test. This is the same test done when your home was built. It’s really very simple. The first thing to do is locate your cleanouts for your sewer service leaving the structure. This will be in the ground usually in front of or behind your home. Once the cleanouts are located we insert a test plug or ball in the sanitary sewer and inflate the ball to seal it off. Once the sewer is sealed we fill the system up to slab level and monitor the water level for 20 minutes and note if there is any loss or change in the water level. If there is a loss you have a leak in the system. This does not tell us were the leak is. This test tells us we have a leak only. The next step is to locate the leak or problem. This is done with a video inspection unit ( sewer camera. ) The camera is used to inspect the sewer system and locate your problem areas. Usually a break in the sanitary system can be seen and located quickly. Once the problem area has been found the technician can turn on the transmitter behind the camera head and find the transmitter with a handheld locator. This will give him the area and the depth of the pipe and orientation. If the area can not be easily seen with the camera the technician will have to do isolation testing to find the leaking area.
Sewer Isolation Testing and Leak Detection Isolation testing is do in tandem with the camera. The isolation testing is done with a test ball where certain parts of the sewer system a sealed off and tested separately. Once we know which part of your sewer system has a leak, we can test it in sections until we come the area that is leaking. It is not as easy as it sounds but this is the basic concept.
Things To Think About
My foundation company told me I did not need any repair work but I need to have my plumbing tested for a leak. This is a common problem most homes that have slab leaks have foundation issues to. This is caused by the soil expanding when it becomes wet and contracting when it is dry. If you think this is not a problem did, you know the soil can expand with 4 to 5 times the pressure the home rest on the ground. Your home rest on ground at about 400 to 500 psi and the soil can expand with as much as 1500 to 2000 psi. That means wet and expansive soil can and will pick your home up and move it quite easily when your domestic water or sanitary sewer is leaking under your home. Just ask your foundation company about your warranty if have a slab leak, sewer leak or domestic water leak. Most foundation companies void the warranty if you have a water leak, (slab leak.) Some test after there lift and tell there customers they need to have the plumbing leak repaired before they will honor there warranty. Something to think about.
Foundation Heaving from Slab Leak
Homebuyers Services and Plumbing Investigative Services We offer services for homebuyers in there option period before the purchase of there new home. If the home you are thinking of buying has cracking, movement problems or has had a foundation lift we recommend having your plumbing tested. We test for plumbing problems your home inspector can not test. We will test the domestic and sanitary systems. We can also take a look at the other plumbing before you buy. If you don’t think you need this, did you know that about 60% of homeowners that have foundation lifts have plumbing issues. Another fact is about half of the above 60% have lived in there home less than 2 years. Why take a chance with the biggest investment you might ever make.
My water bill is high and my floor is hot in my kitchen. You could have a hot water leak under your slab? Hot water leaks under slab are common. Hot water is more corrosive to the piping in your home than cold. You also have more expansion and contraction on hot water piping than cold. Another issue is your hot water heater, if your hot water heater is older the tank builds up rust over time. Some of the rust can escape your water heater and deposit as a small granule in the copper piping. This granule will cause electrolysis and the copper piping will develop a pin hole water leak. Inspecting you water heater and plumbing systems can save you more money than you might think.
Water Leak it’s just a small leak not problem right? Did you know a small leak can dump thousands of gallons under your home each month? A small leak can cause extensive damage to your home in a short period of time. If your home has cracking or movement issues that have gotten worse give us a call. Our skilled plumbing professionals can help you with water leak repairs, sewer repairs, leak detection, sewer inspections and testing. Call us today and we will earn your business, our plumber really do care.
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