You’ve got a plumbing leak in your supply lines. The worrier inside you wonders, “Is this leak just a leak, or is it a sign of a greater problem?” It’s smart to wonder about the root causes of your plumbing problems because sometimes they can be indicators of something more serious, like a foundation problem for example . . .
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing slab foundations for the past 35+ years. We know that foundation issues and plumbing problems are often connected and can talk about the times when we see both happening in one home.
This article will reveal the top 2 supply line problems that might point to foundation issues. We will then discuss homeowner options for repairing the plumbing lines and how to identify a developing foundation problem as well.
Types of Plumbing Lines and Foundation Problems
There are two different types of plumbing lines: lines or pipes that bring clean water into your home and lines or pipes that take used water away from your home. In this article, we are only talking about supply lines that bring clean water into your home, not the drain lines that take dirty water away. We’ve got another article that talks just about drain line issues.
Supply lines *supply* water to your sinks, showers, dishwashers, and washing machines to use to clean things and for you to drink. It’s essential for your supply lines to bring that clean water to the right places, rather than the wrong places.
Sometimes a leak is just a leak, and most supply line problems are caused by other issues like a worn-out valve or failing pipe connection. But a couple of specific supply line problems could also signal an underlying foundation problem.
2 Supply Line Symptoms That Could Indicate a Foundation Issue
Supply line problems are issues that may lead to foundation movement and foundation problems. In other words, leaks can cause foundation settlement, especially if they go on for a while.
On the flip side, certain supply line problems could be caused by foundation problems. In other words, the foundation settlement came first and caused the plumbing problem. It’s kind of a *which came first, the chicken or the egg* kind of thing and it’s often hard to tell which problem happened first.
In general though, supply line indicators for foundation repair are much less common than drain line indicators, but supply line issues like these can certainly still happen. The supply line issues that often reveal a foundation problem are:
- Wet floors where water is coming through the slab
- Higher water bill with no visible signs of dripping faucets or fixtures
Now let’s look into these a little bit more.
1. Wet Floors Where Water is Coming Through the Slab
The symptoms you might see in your home are dampness or water saturating an area of the floor. This could be near where supply lines come up through the foundation heading to a fixture or in a very random place nowhere near a plumbing fixture.
Water supply lines made of copper in older homes run all around underneath your foundation bringing water to different plumbing fixture points. You might pull back the carpet and see a crack in your slab foundation and water coming through.
- If there is a broken supply line or a leak in the supply line in the vicinity of an opening in the foundation due to a crack, water could come up into the home from below.
- Settling foundations can slowly compromise supply lines along with the sinking slab, creating a leak or water saturation in a strange location.
2. Higher Water Bill with No Visible Signs of Dripping Faucets or Fixtures
Sometimes, you might not see a symptom inside your home at all, it comes in your mailbox instead, in the form of a high water bill. You don’t have any dripping faucets or toilets. You don’t even see any outside faucets or your irrigation system leaking with a soggy lawn as evidence. There’s no obvious or easily explainable reason for a higher water bill (like it’s July and you are watering your lawn a lot or you have a known dripping faucet that hasn’t been fixed).
- Unexplained water bill increases can point to a supply line leak or break. Especially if you can’t see any evidence of it around your plumbing fixtures inside your home or even around the outside of your home. The leak might be under your home, unfortunately.
- A sinking foundation can compromise or bend supply lines as it moves, creating a small or not-so-small leak under your home where you can’t even see it.
Ways To Reach Your Plumbing Supply Line Issues For Repair
Sudden or extremely inconvenient plumbing problems are a “need to do right away” kind of thing. Even if the water is clean and coming in, you still want it to go where it’s supposed to go and not raise your water costs.
Plumbers need to be able to reach the break, misalignment, or separation point in the supply line to put it back together and repair it right. This can be done in a couple of ways: from above the slab or from below.
Breaking Through the Foundation to Repair Supply Lines from Above
This might be a biased opinion, okay . . . it’s definitely biased.
Breaking through the foundation from above is messy and intrusive to your home. Jackhammers, dirt, concrete debris and dust, and workers, all inside your home making a pretty big mess frankly. Not that it can’t be done this way, but just know that it might result in some major disruption inside your home.
Breaking through the slab also means going through the flooring. If you have tilework or specialized wood flooring, there could be extra costs to repair or replace that flooring finish.
Tunneling Under the Foundation to Repair Supply Lines from Below
Under-slab tunneling allows a plumber to crawl under your house and repair supply line issues from below your home. One of the major advantages to tunneling under the home to access plumbing repair locations is that disruption to your home is minimal and repairs are all done underneath and outside.
Tunneling can also save you from flooring damage or replacement in some cases.
Tunneling adds to your repair costs. The longer the tunnel needs to be, the more it can cost. But the cost of tunneling can be worth it if it means you can continue living in your home without an active construction zone ruining your routines and your flooring.
Get More Information To Figure Out The Root Causes Of Your Plumbing Issue
Plumbers are the first call when you see or even think you have a plumbing issue. This article is by no means a reason to replace your favorite plumber and their expertise. You will want the plumber to fix your immediate repair needs, but then ask some questions to see if you can get more information about the root cause of your problem.
It might not be clear right away that your plumbing issue is caused by an underlying (pun intended) foundation problem, especially if it’s their first time out for repairs. A plumber is initially focused on the particular immediate repair needs to get leaks stopped.
After the plumbing repairs are completed, ask your plumber for more information about what they did, and what they found. You might also ask that a hydrostatic pressure test be done to test the drain lines under your home too. This info from the plumber could help you get to the bigger picture of understanding and ultimately fixing the whole problem, not just the leak.
Consider a Foundation Inspection After Supply Line Repairs
It may be a good idea to self-monitor your home for foundation issues to see if something else is going on that contributed to your plumbing problem. Look for early signs of foundation settlement in your home, like diagonal drywall cracks and door problems. If any early signs are present, consider getting a foundation inspection as well.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have assessed and repaired thousands of slab foundation problems in our 35+ year history. We have fixed many of those homes with foundation repair needs as well as helped to facilitate needed plumbing repairs with under-slab tunneling.
If your plumbing problem is looking like it is tied to a foundation issue, we would be happy to take a look and help you navigate this stressful situation. You might wonder exactly what a foundation inspection entails, check out this article next: The Fast Guide to Home Foundation Inspections – Purpose, Process, Cost.