My Foundation Slab Leak-Part One

Image of leaking water pipe causing slab leak“I don’t think you need piers. Maybe a few. But I do think you have a slab leak.”

That’s what foundation consultant Richard Rash told me in November.  I had run across Mr. Rash’s website while researching foundation repair companies in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

After being in the foundation repair business for 30 years in the Dallas area Richard retired and formed a new business, that of a consultant who goes to bat for the homeowner. In the course of all those years of putting piers under house foundations then having to go back now and then to a job where the slab kept moving despite the underpinning, he figures he knows a lot about what actually goes on with the typical residential foundation in North Texas.

The cost of foundation repair DFW and most other places is based on the price of each pier times the number of piers needed. The average cost of a pier in the Dallas area runs $350 to $500 depending on the type. Mr. Rash’s selling point is that if he can save you the cost of just one pier, you’ve paid for his services right there.

So I hired him to come take a look at my house and give me some suggestions. I’ve had dry wall cracks develop again and a couple of interior doors sticking. I’d been pretty faithful running the soaker hoses, but we’ve also just come out of an extremely hot and dry summer. 70 plus days of temperatures at or over 100 and hardly any rain. A daunting task for the soaker hoses, although still the best weapon for the homeowner who is trying to keep down the cost to fix a slab foundation.

Mr. Rash came out, we walked around the exterior of the house. He told me he thought my soaker hoses should be moved a little further from the edge of the slab, to more of the 12-18 inch range from the foundation. He also pointed out areas where my drainage could be improved. He noted that the vast majority of rain thunderstorms systems in the DFW area come in from the north and west and it is that side of the house that must have excellent drainage.

We went inside and I gave him a tour of the interior. He looked at the pattern of the drywall cracks, noticed on his own interior doors that had been shaved at the top to get them to close, and made his pronouncement:

You’ve got a slab leak

Oh great. Now what.

Mr. Rash outlined the steps for me. Call a plumbing company who can do a hydrostatic pressure test and has the equipment to find a slab leak if the test shows you have one. And have them watch the water level for at least 2 hours. If they find a leak, have them fix it, then test again. Rinse and repeat until all the leaks are fixed.

Why? Because not only are slab leaks wasting water and money if they involve in-coming water lines but they are also causing upheaval of the slab foundation…pushing the center of the house up and allowing the edges of the foundation to drop. That kind of movement will twist the interior framing of the house causing drywall cracks and doors that don’t work properly.

So if my foundation repair consultant was correct, (and he was) the edges of my slab foundation sitting on shrink-swell clay soils were experiencing record setting dryness from the drought (shrinking, despite running soaker hoses) while the interior of the slab was sitting on expanding (swelling) clay soil caused by water leaks. That combination is not good at all.

Fixing this mess involved a lot of man hours, a tiny video camera and a jack hammer in the middle of my house. Stay tuned.

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