There’s no denying that it’s vitally important to maintain your home or commercial premises for safety and longevity reasons. Something that you’ll undoubtedly want to keep an eye on is your property’s structural integrity.
If your home or business premises got built on a concrete foundation, you need to be aware of slab leaks. Despite the strength that concrete offers, it can get affected by a persistent water leak; when that happens, the concrete will crack and affect its structural integrity.
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In Southern California (including the Inland Empire area), homes and commercial properties get built on slab-on-grade foundations. They are a type of floating foundation used in warm areas like Southern California where ground frost and thawing isn’t a concern.
To create a slab-on-grade foundation, builders pour concrete into a level mold set into the ground. A house or a commercial building then gets constructed on that base after the concrete has set.
Slab-on-grade foundations are typically constructed on a bed of gravel and often include a wire mesh (rebar) within the structure for extra strength. The concrete gets poured into the molds simultaneously. Each foundation is level with the surrounding soil.
An advantage of slab-on-grade foundations is they prevent problems like termite infestations. That’s because there are no wooden channels or hollow spaces that lead into the ground that form part of the foundation.
As you can imagine, slab-on-grade foundations must get constructed with a certain thickness to prevent problems like subsidence. In California, various building codes dictate the depth of such concrete bases.
You should keep in mind that rebars aren’t the only materials that are part of a concrete slab-on-grade foundation. Construction companies also put pipes through the foundation (or underneath it) for water, sewage, and gas.
The trouble is, those pipes and connections usually get made from metals such as copper. All metals will corrode over time and fracture, and copper pipes can develop pinholes where liquids like water can leak through them.
Some factors that can cause or contribute to slab leaks include:
Metal pipes, including copper ones, will slowly corrode. Eventually, those pipes will end up fracturing, even if the cracks are only about one millimeter long. Over time, those cracks will get bigger, resulting in more water leaking out.
According to the EPA, an astonishing 10% of all homes in America leak water, resulting in 90 gallons of wasted water each day. Much of those leaks can get attributed to faulty faucets and toilets, but that also includes slab leaks.
If your home or business premises is in an area with lots of high-rise buildings, there will be a higher water demand. To combat problems with low water pressure, water utility companies will increase the pressure to cope with demand.
Having a high water pressure in your home or commercial building is advantageous. But, it’s not without its disadvantages. The main adverse effects of high water pressure include premature wear of water pipes and slab-on-grade foundations, resulting in slab leaks.
In California, there is a strict set of building codes that must get adhered to whenever a new building gets constructed. Unfortunately, some construction companies don’t always do their work correctly and “cut corners” to save money.
Believe it or not, one such example where construction companies cut corners is the concrete foundation. They might use an incorrect mixture of concrete, or they might not have poured enough concrete in some places, resulting in subsidence issues.
There are hundreds of faults (fractures in the earth’s crust) in California. The Department of Conservation states that California gets around two to three earthquakes each year that are severe enough to cause structural damage to properties.
Such earthquakes have a magnitude of 5.5 or higher. And, some homes and businesses will get mored affected by earthquakes than others depending on the “epicenter.”
When it comes to finding slab leaks, there are a few tell-tale signs which are good indicators of the problem. They are as follows:
One of the most obvious signs that you’ve got slab leaks is when you continuously have wet floors and carpets. Be sure not to confuse that problem with a leaking faucet or toilet! You may also notice you’ve got warped or buckled flooring on the ground floor.
California is one of the warmer parts of the United States. If your property has a mold problem and you can’t find the source of the issue, it’s likely due to slab leaks. The mold issue will typically include a musty odor inside your property.
Do you hear the sound of running water in places where there are no taps or bathrooms? If so, that can be another tell-tale sign of slab leaks that must get fixed immediately.
Another sign of slab leaks is when you’ve got noticeable cracks in your walls, and those cracks get bigger over time. That’s because the stability of your slab-on-grade foundation is worsening due to a water leak.
You now know what causes slab leaks and how to identify common tell-tale signs of that problem. But, you’re probably wondering what your slab leak repair options are? The good news is there are several ways to resolve slab leaks.
For example, spot repairs can get carried out in places where slab leaks are at accessible locations. Pipe replacements and re-routing is another option you can consider to remedy your slab leaks. And it’s also possible to line the inside of pipes with a non-toxic epoxy resin.
Each property will have different slab leak causes, and so it’s essential to consider the most effective solutions for those problems.
For more info on what to expect and pricing of slab leaks, click here.
Contact us today to discuss the issue with our team of professionals and how we can help you resolve it.