Go Back
home flooding

What Is a Home Foundation Leak?

Home foundation leaks occur in houses with plumbing and sewer lines buried under a poured, concrete slab foundation. Unlike exterior foundation leaks, this problem occurs when a pipe is broken or leaking inside the home. When left unchecked, this type of leak can waste tons of water and is one of the most expensive problems a homeowner can face. 

In extreme cases, the entire home foundation can be destroyed or shifted, and the amount of personal property damage caused can be huge. 

Finding a Concrete Foundation Leak

floor dampening due to foundation leaks

One thing that makes foundation leaks so problematic is the difficulty in detecting them. Since the lines can't be seen, it can be difficult to know when this problem occurs. A couple of signs are unusually high water bills or unexpected wet spots on the floor. Homeowners should immediately call a plumber in these situations to diagnose the problem and prevent further damage. 

Plumbers have several ways of detecting these leaks. For sewer lines, they may be able to use a scope with a camera and look around to find the leak This is ideal because they can pinpoint the exact spot the problem is occurring and fix it there. For inbound water lines, the diagnosis is a bit trickier. Typically the plumber will start with the main water line or wherever the leak is visible.

From there, they will work down through smaller lines, trying to identify any other leakage spots. This is usually done by carefully listening to the telltale noises that leaking pipes can make. They may also be able to identify hotspots on the floor or walls that may show where hot water is leaking.

The Types of Leak Detection Tools

plumber at work

The easiest tool plumbers use to check for a sewer line leak is a camera. It is pushed through and can show if there is a line breakage or obvious leak. If this doesn't show anything, a ball and pressure test is used. This effectively blocks the sewer line at one of the cleanouts. The system then fills completely. After about 20 minutes, the plumber will check the water level. If the level has dropped, they know there is a leak. A similar test can be done on water lines by putting a pressure gauge on a faucet and then turning the main water line off. If the pressure drops, there is a leak. 

Once they have confirmed there is a leak, the plumber must figure out exactly where. One common method is to run an electrical current through the pipes and use a current reader to trace and mark where the lines are. Once identified, the plumber will use an electronic listening device and follow the pipelines while listening carefully. 

These advanced tools can help isolate frequency and pitch, and make hearing a leak much easier. Infrared thermometers are also useful for finding hot leaks and can be used for cold leaks by chilling the cold water line and turning the heat up in the house, but this is more of a confirmation tactic than a detection tactic. 

Foundation Leak Detection and Repair

Getting a diagnosis on a foundation leak isn't usually too expensive. Unfortunately, fixing it is a high price point item since it often requires ripping up parts of the floor and the concrete underneath. Even though it's expensive, it's something homeowners want to do right away, because waiting will only make it more expensive. Water will continue to leak, and it's water not in use that is still being paid for. Mold can grow. Concrete will crack. This can add up to thousands of dollars if left unchecked. 

time is money

Additionally, when left leaking, foundation leaks can erode the dirt underneath the house, potentially causing foundation damage and requiring extensive repair. Flooding is a real possibility, and that can ruin floors and personal items that are expensive and may not be replaceable!

In case of a foundation leak, homeowners should always call a plumber right away, as this problem only worsens with time.

Trust a Local Plumber

Laney's Inc was founded in Fargo in 1960 and has been serving the area for over 50 years. With no overtime charges, they are committed to providing top-notch work and customer service. Laney's provides full emergency plumbing, HVAC and electric service.