Slab Leak Water Damage: 6 Things You Need to Know

Author: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Last Updated on

They’re an affordable alternative to crawl space or basement construction. They don’t flood, and that’s a big plus (especially here in Chicago). Slab foundations are usually low maintenance, but water under the slab can result in serious problems.

6 Things You Need to Know About Slab Water Leaks

Slab leak water damage isn’t always obvious. When you understand what to look for, you can spot foundation trouble early and minimize repair expenses. Here are six important questions and answers every homeowner with a slab foundation needs to know.

1. What Kind of Damage Can a Slab Water Leak Cause to Your House?

Typically, a builder constructs a foundation slab by layering concrete over a crushed gravel base. Before pouring the slab, the home’s sewer and drain lines are laid out and covered with compacted sand.

mold behind wallboard basement
Mold can start to form alongside baseboards

When the lines fail, water leaks in the concrete floor slab. The damage can be extensive.

• Cracks running up from floors appear in walls.
• Baseboards swell and pull away from walls.
• Hardwood floors begin to buckle and warp.
• Carpets develop stains and unpleasant odors.
• Mold grows in room corners and along baseboards.

2. How Common Are Slab Leaks?

Slab leak water damage happens more often than you might think. It’s hard to imagine a concrete foundation developing leaks, but many factors can result in water under your home’s slab.

corroded pipe slab leak
Pipes underneath slab foundations can crack in the wintertime and cause water damage

In older houses, material age plays a big role. Pipes under the slab eventually corrode and leak. The foundation begins to crack, and that puts additional pressure on failing drain and sewer pipes.

Our Chicago winters are hard on slab foundations too. As soil freezes, contracts, thaws and expands, it can impact the slab causing pipe cracks and leaks. This type of damage affects both old and new homes.

3. What Are the Warning Signs of a Slab Leak?

It’s easy to spot a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink. It’s much harder to detect a slow drip seeping through the foundation. If you notice any of these signs of slab leak water damage, contact your plumber right away.

wood floor buckling warped due to slab leak
Wood floors can start to buckle and warp.

Wet soil in the yard that stays soggy
• Signs of moisture or mold growth on exterior walls
• Interior wall cracks and warped baseboards
• The sound of water running between walls
• Buckling floors and moldy carpeting
• Unexplained hot spots and bad odors under floors
• Increase in water bills and energy costs
• Water meter gauge movement when no water is in use

4. Does Home Warranty Cover Slab Leaks?

Most home warranty contracts cover the repair or replacement of essential appliances and systems around the house. The coverage only extends to damage and losses caused by normal wear and tear. The contracts aren’t meant to replace a homeowners insurance policy.

Checking with your insurance carrier is the best way to determine your coverage for a water leak in your concrete floor slab. When you and your agent discuss slab leak insurance coverage, be clear on the details. Your policy probably covers foundation replacement, but it may not pay for fixing or replacing plumbing lines in the slab.

5. What Are Your Slab Leak Repair Options?

In most cases, fixing a slab leak doesn’t require tearing up the foundation. Plumbing contractors often use a cure-in-place piping process that re-lines damaged pipes with an epoxy resin seal.

Slip-lining is a technique that works with large pipes by feeding a new line through the original. Even older, fragile pipes can be replaced with a pipe-bursting process that pulls new pipe into place as it destroys the old line.

6. How Do You Clean Up Slab Leak Water Damage?

Tackling water damage after a foundation slab leak isn’t a DIY project. You’re often dealing with damp floors, soggy carpets and moldy drywall. You can’t expect the plumber to take care of it either. 

water damage equipment
Professional water damage equipment helps restore your home after a slab leak.

The job belongs in the hands of experienced water damage cleanup professionals. These are just a few examples of the advanced equipment, methods and services that restore your home to its original condition.

Highly trained technicians use infrared cameras to zero in on hidden damp areas.
• Powerful water-extraction systems remove all moisture from floors and carpets.
• Heavy-duty axial fans, air movers and dehumidifiers quickly dry out affected areas.
• Restoration technicians tear out, replace and repair all materials including flooring, baseboards and drywall.

An industry-certified cleaning contractor also takes care of mold removal and remediation with techniques that ensure interior air quality and protect your health. Often, cleaning and restoration services are covered by your homeowners insurance policy.

We’re Chicago’s Water Damage Repair Specialists

We don’t repair slab leaks, but we do provide all the expert services you need to deal with the aftermath. We earn our reputation as the best water repair specialists in Chicago every day. Just give us a call here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. With headquarters in Skokie and Chicago, we’re always just around the corner.