Signs of a Broken Drain Pipe Under a Slab

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Not sure about the signs of a broken drain pipe under a slab of concrete? In this article, I'll dive into this topic in detail.

drain pipe and slab
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When your home sits on a slab, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if there is something wrong with a sewer or drain line. Because of this, it is good to familiarize yourself with signs that this could be a problem. A broken drain pipe under a slab isn’t necessarily difficult to repair, but you do need to know what to look for first. Just as with any other home repair, there are also several options for the repair of these pipes.

Before you decide what to do, therefore, you’ll need to check the signs and make sure that is what’s wrong. Once you do that, you can get the pipes repaired. Following are some of the signs that you may have problems with the pipes underneath your home’s slab.

Is the Drain Pipe Collapsed?

If your drain pipe is collapsed underneath your home, you’ll likely see one of the following signs:

  • There are warm spots on your floor
  • When your water isn’t on, you may hear the sound of running water
  • You have low water pressure in your home
  • You have rising damp in your basement
  • You notice a musty odor in your home
  • You notice moisture on your internal flooring
  • You notice mold or mildew at the base of your drapes or underneath either rugs or carpet
  • Your carpet is wet or damp
  • Your exterior walls have patches of wet grass on them
  • Your sinks, toilets, or shower are running slowly
  • Your water bill is rising significantly and you aren’t sure why

If you notice any of these things happening, you should call in a specialist to ascertain the problem. These specialists use tools such as CCTV cameras and listening devices to get the right diagnosis. This, of course, means that you’ll be able to work with them to determine the best course of action to take to get the repairs completed.

Do You Have Structural Damage from Sewer or Water Leaks Under the Slab?

Unfortunately, your structural damage can be significant if you haven’t been paying attention. If you notice any of the following signs, it could mean that extensive damage has occurred underneath the slab of your home:

  • Some areas of your flooring are higher than others, making a dome shape
  • There are cracks in your wall that lead upward from the floor
  • You notice cracks in either concrete or tile flooring
  • Your timber boards are either warped or they’re squeaking

How Much Does It Cost to Repair Your Pipes?

The costs for pipe repairs depend a lot on the condition of your pipes. If they are old, you are likely going to have to replace them. This is because older pipes are going to keep on springing leaks. You’re much better off getting new pipes rather than spending all of your money on pipe repairs every few years. This being said, below are some costs to keep in mind before contacting a plumber:

  • The average cost for a small job: $3,000 to $5,000
  • The average cost for a large job: $15,000 to $20,000
  • The average cost overall: $10,275

Why are the average costs so high? With under-slab pipe repair or replacement, it is usually necessary to use trenching or tunneling in order to get to the pipes in the first place. Trenching is used to replace the lines from the perimeter of the building to the city’s main line. Tunneling is necessary in order to replace either sewer or water lines. Both of these processes can be complex and time-consuming.

Most plumbers charge you a specific amount per foot of pipes, which includes the materials and the pipes themselves. This can range from $40 per foot up to $250 per foot, depending on the type of pipes you have and the replacement products. If you do the work yourself, you should get a plumber to come in and make sure that it was done correctly. That being said, it’s better to trust a professional plumber to do the entire job so that it is done correctly from the very start.

Is Repairing Your Drain Pipes Yourself Easy to Do?

It is always going to be less complicated for a professional to do this job for you. If you insist on doing it yourself, here are a few steps you’ll need to take:

  • Locate the break. Since a slab is porous, you should be able to tell where the break is right away because the water will leak upward through the slab.
  • Do a spot repair. Remove a portion of the slab with either a concrete-cutting tool or a jackhammer, cut the broken portion, then replace the broken pipes with PVC pipes.
  • Study what you found. Look at the piece you’re repairing or replacing to get an idea of how the rest of the pipes look. This is the best way to decide what to do next.
  • Consider the relining option. If the decay is extensive, one option might be to reline the pipes with cured in place pipe, or CIPP. It might be the best solution for you.

It’s important to locate and repair water pipes as soon as possible. It is the only way to keep the damage in one area so that the building isn’t damaged beyond repair. A concrete slab used as a foundation makes things complicated but not impossible. It helps if you know what type of pipes you have before you get started. If you know that your pipes are made of copper and they’re old, you’ll likely be replacing the pipes soon.

Trenchless Water Line Repairs

Many companies offer trenchless repairs of your water lines, which means that the process is:

  • Able to leave a smaller carbon footprint
  • Able to replace small pipes with larger ones
  • Cheaper than the alternative
  • Durable
  • Fast and convenient
  • Safe

This is an option worth looking into when you have a slab foundation and your water pipes become damaged or break. Whatever you do, consulting with a professional plumber makes a big difference in the outcome every time. Plumbing professionals work quickly but efficiently to get the job done right. This is why utilizing their services is always worth it in the end.

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About the AuthorCharles at infoSpike

Charles is the founder of He enjoys real estate investing, marketing, and personal finance. Read more about Charles here.