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6October

A concrete floor is one of the last places most homeowners would expect to find water leakage. To boot, it could occur due to any one or a combination of many natural and man-made causes, from low topography to broken pipes, etc. If left unattended, it could compromise the integrity of your concrete floor and, by extension, your home’s foundation.

Although a multiplicity of factors can lead to slab leakage problems, they can all be resolved using just two classes of solutions. The first class of solutions is for issues caused by external factors such as excess moisture in the foundation’s surrounding due to heavy rainfall or snowmelt, and gutters that are too close to your home’s exterior. Usually, some measures are supposed to be put in place when building a house to protect it from these external causes of concrete leakages. These measures include creating proper drainages around the house, adequate waterproofing, insulation of the concrete slab, other measures for plugging the slab’s porosity, and positioning gutters farther away from the home’s exterior walls.

The second class of solutions is for slab leakages caused by internal problems like damaged or aging pipes. Unfortunately, these internal problems are usually much harder to detect and might go unnoticed for a long time, sometimes resulting in mysterious spikes in water rates. Homes in regions vulnerable to earthquakes are more susceptible to these internal problems due to the perpetual exposure of underground water pipes to extreme tectonic pressures. Older homes are also more susceptible to slab leakages due to the damages underground pipes sustain over time.

Homes with concrete floor insulation that’s too tight are also more vulnerable to a different type of slab leakage. An overly-airtight Insulation might trap moisture underneath the slabs, which could eventually condense, causing mold buildup, cracks, and even water logs.

How to Fix Concrete Leaks Caused by External Factors

If the topography of the ground around your foundation induces waterlog, you need to implement a proper drainage system like a French drain near your foundation. The idea behind the French Drainage system is to dig up a channel from the waterlogged site to a drainage basin to drain any excess water around your outer wall. It can be highly effective in mitigating slab leakage problems caused by wetland, provided the drainage channel is always free from clutter, and the drainage basin is commodious.

If the waterlogging problem isn’t severe, you can stop the slab leakage only by adequately waterproofing the concrete. But you need to investigate the issue thoroughly to make sure the waterlog isn’t too large. If the walls and slabs have already sustained extensive damages due to the leakage, you need a more comprehensive solution than waterproofing. You might need to call in a professional to make a thorough inspection and recommend the repairs’ best measures.

How to Fix Concrete Leakages Caused by Internal Factors

Most homeowners usually check for leakages in their water systems in faucets, showers, hoses, and visible stretches of pipework, underground pipe leakage hardly ever come to mind until glaring signs emerge. Underground pipes can become degraded, corroded, and damaged over time due to normal wear and tear or natural causes like earthquakes, intrusive roots of surrounding trees, etc.

Telltale signs of concrete leakages caused by damaged pipes underground include unusually warmer spots on the floor caused by leaking hot water lines. A bludgeoning ‘dome’ in the floor that grows bigger as more water from leaking pipes become trapped in a particular spot on the floor, and foundation heaving, where the slab foundation harbors an increasing buildup of waterlogging from leaking underground pipes.
Identifying the exact location of the leakages in the underground pipes is highly crucial. You don’t want to go ripping out one part of your floor after another trying to chase down the leakage. It could be worth investing in slab leak detection equipment, which might cost you anywhere between $150 – $400.

Once you’re certain of the leakage spot, clear out the room carefully. Use gloves, goggles, breathing masks, steel-toe boots, and similar equipment to protect yourself from dust and other hazards.
You can use tools like a jackhammer, a sledgehammer, and mallet to excavate the concrete around the leaky spot. But you need to be careful when handling these heavy-duty tools because they could cause serious bodily harm and damages to the surrounding in the hands of an inexperienced user.

It’s always advisable to replace rather than repair damaged underground pipes to reduce the chances of the leakage coming back. You can use a hacksaw or tubing cutter to cut out the damaged parts of the pipes. Replace the broken parts with new tubes and then replace the concrete over the repairs’ site.

If you can’t locate the leakage’s exact spot and don’t have the necessary tools to carry out the repairs, you might need professional intervention. Our highly seasoned plumbers can give you prompt, professional intervention to fix your slab leakage problems and restore the degradations.

Billy Henley
Billy Henley is the Vice President of Operations for BHI Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. Before becoming vice president, he worked six years in the field as a service technician and has over ten years of experience working in the industry. Billy often shares his knowledge about plumbing and HVAC issues on industry publications.