Are you experiencing a sewer or water line leak under your house? Perhaps your ground soil has shifted, which has caused your copper water lines to crack or burst. Perhaps mature tree roots have infiltrated your water or sewer lines. Or maybe chemical drain cleaners have corroded your pipes, causing pinhole leaks. No matter the reason, you need to locate and fix a plumbing problem under your home’s foundation to protect it from further structural issues. Here’s how to replace or repair plumbing under your home’s foundation.
Locating the Leak
Under-house slab leaks are hard to detect, especially to an untrained person. That’s why it is best to call for local help. For example, if you’re living in Adelaide, an Adelaide repair professional can help you solve the problem. You need to know the common signs of these leaks. This knowledge will help you identify and repair them before they cause extensive damage to your house. Common signs of under house slab leaks include:
- Your pipes produce sounds of rushing or running water when all outlets are closed. You may need to lie down and place your ear against the floor to notice this leak. This sign points to a potential leak in the pipes carrying water into your house.
- Wet parts of grass alongside the exterior walls of your house
- A damp smell in some rooms
- Mold or mildew beneath carpets and rugs
- Sudden rise in your water bill
- Presence of moisture on your internal flooring
- Damp areas of carpet
- An elevated floor area
If these signs cannot help you find the exact location of the leak, you may need advanced equipment like electronic amplification equipment. That means you need to bring a plumber on board. Your plumber may detect a hot water line leak by using infrared thermometers to locate hot spots.
Getting to the Point of the Leak
Jackhammering the Slab
After locating the leak, you will need to remove all furniture from that section. You need to remove carpeting and other flooring materials. Using a jackhammer, dig into the slab and remove all the dirt under the slab. The objective here is to create sufficient space to fix the leak.
An experienced plumber from team emergency plumber will perform this task with as little mess as possible. The flooring repair process will be quick and less expensive. If you decide to jackhammer the concrete yourself, you might create a huge mess inside your house.
Making a Tunnel Under the House
Making a tunnel below the house is the minimally invasive way to access and fix the leak. Begin by locating the leak. The leak detection criteria used during jackhammering of the slab apply to tunneling, too.
Identify the closest exterior wall after detecting the leak. Make an access pit approximately 3 inches deep at a point directly leading to the leak location. Dig a tunnel horizontally below the slab until you reach the leak point.
As you can see, tunneling involves lots of work and requires an excavation team. This method, however, allows you to repair or replace a large section of the faulty line. Sometimes it’s the only option to fix a plumbing problem extremely close to an external wall.
Fixing the Leak
Using a tubing cutter, make two cuts into your copper pipe and remove the damaged section. Install two couplings on the cut ends and connect a new copper tubing piece. Fixing a faulty drain line may involve replacing sizable parts or digging a tunnel under the house. It’s a good idea to hire a skilled plumber for such tasks.
Re-Routing the Water Line Through the Attic
A re-route involves identifying the leaking line below the slab. It also entails identifying the point at which that line emerges on the slab. A plumber then creates a new line through the walls and the attic, leaving the faulty line below the slab.
Re-routing is an effective method of dealing with a plumbing leak under your house. The reason is that it gets rid of the whole line and keeps future potential leaks away. The main disadvantage of this method is that it involves making cut-outs in several wall sections.
Passing A New, Smaller Line Through the Old Line
Plumbers rarely use pass-through to fix a slab leak. Just like re-routing, this method abandons the whole leaking line. A plumber may run a new, tinier line through the leaking copper line. The plumber then reconnects the line and restores the water.
This method decreases the diameter of the leaking copper line. It’s only viable when the size of your new line is enough to supply water to your plumbing fixtures according to local plumbing codes. An experienced plumber familiar with local and state plumbing codes can review the under-house plumbing problem to determine whether pass-through is the best option.
Several methods for replacing or repairing under-house plumbing do exist. You need to choose one that suits your plumbing situation and offers the most value. Of course, you will need to work with a competent plumber to achieve that.