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What Is a Slab Leak? Am I Going To Have a High water Bill? Can Homeowner's Insurance Help?

Updated on February 16, 2015

Slab Leaks Found by ULD

This water leak was found under a kitchen floor in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This water leak was found under a kitchen floor in Cincinnati, Ohio. | Source
This pinhole leak on a service line into a home was found by United Leak Detection in Lafayette, Indiana.
This pinhole leak on a service line into a home was found by United Leak Detection in Lafayette, Indiana. | Source

Check your water meter for signs of a leak

The small triangle is a leak indicator.  If it is rotating at all, you may have a leak, and need to investigate further.
The small triangle is a leak indicator. If it is rotating at all, you may have a leak, and need to investigate further. | Source

What is a water slab leak? Could It be the Cause of a High Water Bill?

Water is relentless. Rivers formed the Grand Canyon and glaciers flattened the United States to create farmland throughout the heartland of America. The same forces of flowing and freezing water can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Slab leaks can happen to any home on a slab foundation. No matter the age of your home, no matter where you live. Just because it does not freeze where you live, you may still have leaks beneath your slab. California and Texas have some of the highest rates of slab leaks in the country, and deep freezes are few and far between. For the rest of us, we can still have slab leaks, and then we must worry about freezing and thawing to boot. As a slab leak detection and repair specialist, we have found that, surprisingly, most slab leaks on the pressure side of the plumbing happen in newer homes, built in the last 20 years. Slab leaks on the drainage side of the plumbing happen in older homes, where the metal drainage pipes have simply worn away.

Yes, slab leaks can happen to you. If you notice a jump in your water bill, and you have not been using more water than usual, check your toilets. They can use a shocking amount of water. They can be easy to repair, and it can be done quickly. Once you have ruled out the toilet as a possible problem, keep looking. The problem could be in the water softener, a leaking hose, or even a humidifer in your furnace. If, after checking all of these things, you are still seeing no drop in water usage, you may be having a problem with a slab leak.

Slab leaks can occur on the service line of your home from the water meter to the shut off valve in your home. They can occur on a cold water supply line to any plumbing fixture in a home, or they can occur on the hot water line to any fixture using hot water. They can occur on any drain line from any sink, toilet, shower, or washing machine.

Leaks on the pressure side of the plumbing can often be discovered before they cause a great deal of damage. High water bills, noise, or wet spots in your yards can be signs of a slab leak on the pressure side of your plumbing. These leaks are often found before too much time has passed, but they can also cause damage to a lot of your home. The pressure of the water fills up the space beneath your slab and inside you foundation. If it cannot escape through the foundation, it can find its way up through small hairline cracks in your slab and can flood your home! I can also cause flooding to the yard around your home. If you have standing water on 2 sides of your home that are not adjacent and a high water bill, you are likely to have a leak below your slab.

Leaks on the drainage side can be much more hidden and are harder to diagnose. They can leak for years without any outward sign of leakage. Think of all the nasty gray water hanging out under your slab, slowly wetting the soil, and then the soil dries, then wetting it, and then it dries. Over time, your foundation can feel the effects. These leaks can cause your foundation to buckle and can cause a good deal of smelliness if you have a crack in your slab. Drainage pipe should be checked every so often just to make sure you don't have a problem.

Of course if you may have a leak, call in a professional who can fix it right, not a kid with a sledgehammer who wants to make a mess in your home and may get lucky and find a leak. Most leak detection companies, and some plumbers can find your leaks accurate to within a couple of inches; no matter what kind of slab leak, no matter where it hides.

Will a slab leak be covered by my homeowner's insurance?

Will homeowner's insurance policy cover a slab leak?

The short answer is maybe. If they do cover it, there will be some qualifications, and only a claims adjuster for your company can tell you for sure. Your leak will need to be inside the walls of your foundation. You don't have yard insurance, you have home insurance, so a leak on your service line outside of the foundation will not be covered. Sorry. On the bright side, if that is your leak problem, it is likely the least expensive kind of hidden underground leak to repair. If the leak is on the pressure side of your plumbing and the water under the house comes up through the slab and causes damage to your home or belongings, some portion of the work is very likely to be covered. If you do not have damage to the above slab portions of your home, and the leak is inside the walls of the foundation, but still below the concrete slab floor, you may still be in luck. When you call your homeowner's insurance company, they may say that they will pay to find the leak, but not to repair the leak. Have no fear! This means that the company will likely pay for the leak detection, pay to remove the slab, and whatever fill stands in the way of repairing the pipe. The company will likely not pay for the actual cutting of the pipe, the pipe and fittings to repair the leak, and the labor to repair the pipe. Then they are likely to cover the cost of fixing your home back to the original shape it was in before the work was started. Only a claims adjuster can tell you for sure, and some companies may not cover any of this at all. If you have a dedicated agent for your insurance company, you can call them to get a better idea of what may or may not be covered.

It doesn't look like much, but copper pipe leaks can cost a lot of money!

This is a leak in cold rolled copper piping.  The home was only 13 years old.  This was the homeowner's second leak in about a year.
This is a leak in cold rolled copper piping. The home was only 13 years old. This was the homeowner's second leak in about a year.

People Ask, How common are slab leaks? Have you ever had one? Vote Today!

Have you ever had a slab leak or a service line leak in your home?

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