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Slab and Sewer Leak Detection

More and more homes in the greater Houston area are being built on top of concrete slabs. More often than not, these foundations will have plumbing lines run underneath the slab. This is a bad idea for several reasons, the first being that no material lasts forever, and eventually you (or whoever owns the home after you) are going to have to repair or replace the plumbing and sewer pipes that are buried beneath the concrete pad that keeps your home from sinking into the dirt.

Sewer Line Problems Stink!

No, really, it’s a serious problem that you and your sewer line have to talk about. Being able to smell sewer gas in your home is an almost sure sign that there is a break somewhere in your drain or sewer lines. In a “best-case scenario,” that awful rotten-egg smell can be caused by a broken seal or flange beneath the base of your toilet. The worst case would be a sewer line leak that has started to cause the wood beneath your floors to start to rot.

There are few plumbing issues as devastating and costly as a sewer line leak that is left undiscovered. Broken sewer lines cause wastewater (and everything else) that goes into your drains and toilets from your home to pour into the soil deep beneath your yard. The first sign of a sewer line leak is often a soggy area of your yard that was never damp before or an extremely green and lush section of lawn.

Foundations, walls, and ceilings can all be affected by a sewer line leak, and once the structural integrity of your home is compromised, it can be expensive to repair. Leaking sewer lines can cause the soil that your home sits on to shift, which results in cracks in your foundation. Once the foundation of your home has shifted, it’s a short ride to cracks in drywall, in ceilings, and hardwood floors.

Types of Plumbing Lines Found Under Your Slab

Supply Lines: Bring water into your home from whatever source you choose, city water or well water.

Sewer (Building Drain) Lines: All outgoing water and waste from the structure is eliminated and directed to either a city sewer system or a private septic tank.

How Do I Know If I Might Have a Slab Leak?

If you’ve started to notice puddles around your yard that were never there before or areas of erosion around your slab, you may want to consider calling Nick’s Plumbing for a slab leak detection in Houston service call.

Inside the home, you may start to see cracks in your sheetrock or separation of crown molding. An area of the home that always feels damp or has a mildew smell is an indication of water damage within the walls that could be caused by a slab leak.

How Do You Find a Leak Underneath a Slab?

Once we determine that you have a likely under-slab leak, based on the appearance of the symptoms we listed, along with a visual diagnosis by one of our trained and licensed plumbing technicians, the next step is to determine precisely where the leak is.

At Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning, Sewer Services, we employ a couple of different methods for slab leak detection in Houston. We use specialized snake cameras that reveal a high-definition view of your drain and sewer lines from the inside, as well as inflatable rubber bladders to block specific areas of your plumbing system to facilitate isolation testing of each section of your sewer and drain lines.

Supply line leaks under your slab are particularly problematic, as the water supply lines are under constant pressure and have water flowing through them all times. A supply line leak will make itself apparent much faster than a sewer line leak, as the pressurized water can wipe out the soil under your home at lightning speed.

How Do You Fix an Under-Slab Leak?

Usually, the most expedient fix to an under-slab leak is to completely abandon the old plumbing and perform a redirect. Re-directing the pipes allows the flow of water to remain above ground (usually hidden behind cabinets and drywall) to prevent any further under-slab issues.

Sure, a lot of plumbing companies will be happy to tunnel underneath your home to the site of the leak with an excavation machine, replace all the pipes beneath your slab, and backfill the soil back under your foundation. If they didn’t cause any further settling or manage to collapse your foundation entirely, you’re good to go for another 15 years. Or until one of their new pipes springs a leak, and you get to repeat the process all over again. Yay.

There’s a way to prevent all that disappointment in advance…just call Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning to perform your slab leak detection in Houston. We have the specialized equipment, and thoroughly trained and licensed plumbing technicians to ensure the right diagnosis and the right fix the FIRST time.

Watch Our Video on Slab & Sewer Leak Detection

On today’s show, Slab leak detection in Houston or sewer leak detection.

I’m John Eccles, Richard Saad, here for another week to explain how to fix your plumbing and then try. We’re here to explain, teach, praise…

So today’s an interesting show, right? Slab or sewer leak detection. So that means we’re going to be talking about stuff underneath this concrete right here underneath the home, underneath this pier and beam. So what is slab lead detection?

Slab leak detection is basically when you have an issue right in your house and your plumbing system is not draining, right? You’re stopped up. Uh, there’s things going wrong that are unexplainable above ground, right? Then it goes below ground and that is where you get into slab leak detection or sewer leak detection. You were trying to figure out what is impeding that flow of water or if we’re dealing with high pressure, where is that water coming from? That’s coming out from the slab.

Okay. Okay. So there’s obviously several different types of things that can be underneath your slab that are going to be plumbing related. And you got water, sewer, gas, we’re going to be covering two of these, a little bit more detail because one, we’ll talk about it here in a second, uh, the gas you’re going to see at one time, and that’s normally if the gas is going to an island cooktop or something like that, um, you. So that’s the one time that you’ll see that today’s show though is gonna be focused more on waterlines. Right? A lot of waterlines are now being ran under the slab, especially if you live in the Katy area, new home they’ve been running, they’ve been doing that for about 15 years now.

Which I am dead against that. You guys, I would always tell you don’t ever run water underneath your slab because no material lasts forever. And when it breaks it’s a nasty fix and it washes out your soil underneath the house. So you present a whole bunch of different problems, but we’re going to talk about that, you know, if that happens to you and this occurs, we’re going to tell you kind of how we go about fixing that.

Try the other type of sewer, obviously sewer drains, which that’s the technical name for them is sewer line, and once they get inside your slab, sewer or building drains, um, but it’s still to the customer. It’s a sewer line. Every house has sewer underneath everyone. A 100 percent has sewers, you know, some sort of drain underneath your house and they do have the potential to leak and cause issues. So we’re going to go over all these different things. Um, how do we know Richard? What’s a cause or a sign that a customer can see, feel, or know that they might have a problem?

The, the biggest one that we see and right now in Ireland, they’re all going out in Ireland because it’s cast iron piping and that cast iron piping rots. Uh, it gets holes, it gets dislocates, it does a whole bunch of nasty stuff, but that material was not meant to last that long. It’s age, it’s a age. So the telltale sign that you’ve got a problem underneath the slab is you’re getting cracks in sheet rock, uh, you’re hitting movement and slab somewhere, maybe not the entire slab, but maybe in one section or you’re having moisture problems in an area or you actually can see water in a, in a specific area. We do have that, believe it or not, and we have that a lot. People will call them, be like, I got a puddle of water in the middle of my living room. There’s no water nearby.

Where is that coming? That’s right. It’s finding the least path of resistance and it’s pushing up that slab is what it’s doing, but when we come out to your house, we have to find that because it’s like what John Just said, we, you’re not looking for the pipe specifically where that water is. You’re having to trace that down to figure out what’s happened, what’s become dislocated or got a hole in it. And then how do you find it? Uh, there’s several different ways that we use and methods that we use. And it’s specialized equipment. Absolutely. From A, from a camera system to other equipment to be able to stop your system up so we can pressurize it and start doing isolated leak detections from there. Okay. Now on the water system, you’ve got a little bit different of a method of trying to find that these high pressure water, uh, can present a big problem throwing water everywhere underneath that slab.

And it’s putting pressure, a lot of pressure and it’s pushing up through your slab most of the time. So we’ve got a sounding equipment. We’ve got some other equipment that’s very expensive that we use. It’s not foolproof, it’s not going to say, oh, your problem is exactly here. It’s still going to take human brains and hands to figure that out. So it’s not a guy with a megaphone or a guy with a two pieces of metal trying to, uh, get them to cross to figure out where it is underneath the slab. So it’s more technical. It’s a lot more technical than that. That’s exactly right. So when you call a plumbing company, a lot of companies, especially on the high pressure side, cannot do it. Yeah. You have to specifically ask them, even if you don’t know if it’s a high pressure system, hopefully that you do know you do have a high pressure system underneath the house.

Right. But we have cane come across. A lot of people that do not know this, they just don’t know they were sold the home, don’t know what’s underneath it. If nothing’s going wrong, people normally don’t look right and they don’t ask questions. That’s right. You just don’t know. You don’t know what you don’t know and you don’t know to ask, but hopefully you do know so you can tell the plumbing company, Hey, I’ve got high pressure underneath my slab. I don’t know what this is. It’s either from a drain or it’s high pressure and a lot of companies cannot find that high pressure system a leak and so they want to sell you a complete reroute and a complete repiping. And I’m actually a proponent of that because once you start excavating under neath that slab to try to find this high pressure water leak, it could be a mess.

Oh yeah, absolutely. It can be. Sometimes they were correct that, you know, to do a whole reroute and take out sheet rock and put it above like it should’ve been. Well that leads right into the next topic. So either way, right? If they have this problem, um, and they, we identify it, well, what are they going to be? Their options were, what are the options to fix these kind of leaks on the sewer side, drain side and the high pressure water league side, we can tunnel underneath your house and get to that particular area and fix it. But sometimes you still can’t do that, especially on drains. You have to do a complete re direct. So for example, your kitchen sink, drain line, I would never tunnel underneath your house to fix a kitchen sink, drain line. If we can, we would always reroute that.

The question is why? Why would we do that when we could tunnel underneath and it. The issue is we’re doing a small patch, might be a two foot section, three, four foot section of pipe. The problem is on that pipe, the whole thing is going to be bad and you’re not wanting to tunnel and replace that whole thing. It doesn’t make any sense when you can do a redirection. That’s right. And, and change where it goes and just abandon that pipe. So there are circumstances where you never want a tunnel. Yeah, absolutely. But you can get sold and there’s a lot of companies that will actually do that and I would recommend that you don’t do that.

Yeah, I mean, I think as always, you know, we always say this, every show, um, you know, we’d love to give customers information and knowledge and educate y’all so that you can make the best decision for your house, your home, your family, whatever your needs are. And sometimes, you know, we’ll recommend something customers don’t necessarily want that, then that’s fine. As long as they’re making an educated decision for themselves, all we can do is recommend. And you know, we, we, we, there’s certain things that we would tell you, we’ll do it and it’ll fix the problem. I’m just telling you, there’s gonna be more problems down the road. And most customers are just like, probably just like you’re saying right now, will I would want a problem down the road, I’m going to go ahead and take care of it the way that you recommended, you know, and that’s why we tell you 100 percent of the time whether you use us or not, call us, ask us questions. We’re here all the time. We want to make sure that you have the information that you need to make that decision.

That’s right. Yeah. So if you’re seeing slab movement, if you’re seeing sheetrock cracks, that is a telltale sign that you’ve got a sewer or a drain problem. And call us and ask us questions. We do leak detection all the time everyday and we do it for all three of those items. Absolutely. Well thank you guys. Thank y’all so much. I’m John Eccles, Richard side. See you next week. Call us for any questions and we’ve got in here like, what’s up dude, my phone is blowing up.

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