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When A Low Price Plumbing Repair Is No Bargain

A Low Priced Repair Becomes Wasted Money If The Repair Fails & Must Be Done All Over Again

Some Some Plumbing Problems Cause Additional Problems  — Slab Leaks Can Lead To Foundation Damage

slab leak repair closed with cement no flooring repair

illegal slab leak repair not up to code reopened to correct failed repair

illegal slab leak repair not up to code failed in a short timeillegal slab leak repair not up to code failed in a short time 2

Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C Was Called To A Home Because A Recent Slab Leak Repair (not done by Al’s) Was Leaking Again

This Is What We Found:

Photo 1: The Patched Repair Upon Arrival

Photo 2: PEX Water Supply Line (blue) inside in the slab’s concrete patch.

Photo 3: PEX  Water Supply Line (blue) connected to original, existing copper water line under the slab with connection fittings

Photo 4: PEX Water Supply  Line (blue) connected to original, existing copper water line in the wall with connection fittings

 

Was This Slab Leak Repair Done Correctly, And In Compliance With Building Code?    NO.

  • A Home Owner Should Not Expected To Know if a plumbing repair is done correctly, legally and in compliance with Building Code.
  • BUT A LICENSED PLUMBER IS EXPECTED TO KNOW!  
  • And, if a repair is not done correctly, a City Inspector will find itIF a Plumbing Permit was pulled (in compliance with the law).
  • If no permit is pulled, the City does not know a repair was made.  Without that knowledge, no City Inspector will check the plumber’s work to ensure it’s done correctly.  

Here Are Examples Of Where & Why This Slab Leak Repair Is Not In Compliance With PEX Installation Requirements

  • Photo 2: PEX pipe buried inside concrete.  PEX must be protected with a non-metallic sleeve anywhere PEX touches concrete.
  • Photo 2: PEX must be buried in a suitable backfill-material such as sand or pea gravel
  • Photo 3: shows a (connection) fitting buried inside concrete.  When using PEX, all fittings must be outside or above the slab.

The repair failed and started leaking again because:

  • It was not done correctly
  • It was not in compliance with Building Code
  • It was not in Compliance with how PEX Plumbing Pipe (blue pipe in photos) must be installed

There Is A Published Guide For Installing PEX Water Supply Systems

 “The Design Guide Residential PEX Water Supply Plumbing Systems”  

Design Guide Residential PEX Water Supply Plumbing Systems first editionDesign Guide Residential PEX Water Supply Plumbing Systems second edition

This Guide Was Prepared For:

  • Plastic Pipe Instite (PPI)
  • Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA)
  • Partnership For Advancing Technology In Housing  (PATH)
  • NAHB (National Association Of Home Builders) Research Center

Here Is A Link To The Complete Guide:  The Design Guide: Residential PEX Water Supply Plumbing Systems

This Is A Summary Of The Top 2 Paragraphs On Page 78 Of The Design Guide:

  • Only Continuous PEX Tubing Without Fittings Shall Be Used When Installing PEX Under A Slab.
  • All Connections Shall Be Outside Or Above The Slab.
  • Tubing Shall Be Completely Buried By A Suitable Backfill Material — such as sand or pea gravel.
  • PEX Tubing Shall Be Protected With A Non-Metallic Sleeve Where It Comes Through The Slab (where it is touching concrete).

SOURE: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/publications/pex_design_guide.pdf

http://www.pexuniverse.com/barrier-pex-tubing

How Can You Be More Certain A Plumbing Repair Is Done Correctly, And In Compliance With Building Code?

  • Ask if the plumber coming to your home has a Plumber License.  In some cases, the company is licensed, but individual plumbers are not.
  • Ask if they always pull required Plumbing Permits.
  • Ask if they leave their repair visible until a City Plumbing Inspector checks the work and signs off on it as being done correctly and in compliance with Building Code.
  • Tell them you want a copy of your Plumbing Permit.
  • If a Plumbing Permit is pulled, and a City Plumbing Inspector checks the work (and signs off on it as correct) you can feel assured the work is done correctly.  If the Inspector does not sign off on the work, the plumber must return to correct the problems.
  • If no Plumbing Permit was pulled (which is what creates an inspection) — you can only count on the plumber to have done the repair correctly.

Your City Website Details When A Plumbing Permit Is Required

The following is a list of projects for which a Plumbing Permit is required in Plano, TX:

  • Plumbing work
  • Water heaters (replacing or adding)
  • Water softeners
  • Replacing water or sewer lines

If in Plano, the plumbing repair work shown at the top of this article requires a Plumbing Permit.  If a Plumbing Permit is pulled, a City Inspector will inspect the work while it can still be seen. If a Plano City Inspector had checked this work, it would have been rejected.

How Can A Low Priced Plumbing Repair Become Tremendously Expensive?

The Home Owner assumes a repair stopped a Slab Leak.  The incorrectly performed (water-supply pipe) slab leak repair fails, and water starts entering the expansive-clay soil under the slab once again. This creates the environment for Slab Foundation Damage.

When water gets into DFW’s expansive-clay soils, they increase in size.   Once this type of soil dries out, it decreases in size.  The increasing and decreasing of the size of the clay soil (under the home’s slab) causes the slab foundation to move up and down. Slab movement is not uniform throughout the slab, as slabs move primarily only where there are changes in soil-moisture level. The effect of the slab moving unevenly is what causes slab foundation damage.

photo of expansive clay soil wet and dry

This photo shows the same amount of expansive clay soil when it’s wet (left) and dry (right)

map of texas showing where expansive clay soil is located

DFW Is Built In An Area Of Highly Expansive Clay Soil

 

foundation repair before and after piers installed

As the soil gets wet and expands, it creates upward force on the slab at the point of the slab leak.  With enough soil expansion, the slab can crack or buckle upward.

Once the soil dries out and shrinks,  the slab can incur settlement-damage due to insufficient support below the slab.

Foundation-Piers must be installed to stabilize the foundation (right photo)

foundation repair showing piers reaching bedrock

Foundation Piers must go as deep as required to reach a load-bearing substance

slab leak minor damage

Minor Slab Foundation Damage Caused By A Slab Leak Found Early.  This crack was caused by upward force.

buckled tile due to slab leak

Major Slab Foundation Damage Due To Tremendous Upward Pressure From Beneath The Slab.  This was likely due to a Water-Supply Pipe Slab Leak Left A Long Time.

 

foundation repair cost bell curve

A rough guide as to what foundation repairs can cost.  Actual cost is determined by the nature of the foundation damage and repairs needed.  A true maximum cost cannot be determined.

An inexpensive slab leak repair (if done wrong and it fails) can create large expenses down the line.  This is due to a slab leak adding a lot of water under the home.  When the expansive-clay soil under the home becomes overly wet, it tremendously expands in size and creates upward pressure on the slab.  Once the slab leak repair was correctly redone, the soil dries out again. As the soil dries out, it reduces in size, and is no longer able to provide adequate support for the foundation.  These excess soil-moisture problems can end up creating the need for foundation repairs.

Can There Be Repairs Needed Beyond Repairing The Foundation?

Yes.  When a foundation moves, the house moves with it.  This can create a seemingly endless potential for repairs needed to the home (beyond foundation repairs).

drywall cracking due to slab movementdrywall cracking and trimwork separation due to slab movementdrywall cracking due to slab movement

slab foundation damage due to movement

slab foundation damage due to movementslab foundation damage due to movement

 

Note: These are representative samples of home

brick exterior damage due to slab movement

brick exterior damage due to slab movement

brick exterior damage due to slab movement

brick exterior damage due to slab movement

 

 brick exterior damage due to slab movement

brick exterior damage due to slab movement

brick exterior damage due to slab movement

brick exterior damage due to slab movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

slab leak damage buckled concrete

slab foundation damage due to movement

slab foundation damage due to movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE:  These photos are representative of damage to the house resulting from a damaged foundation.  Slab movement is a major factor contributing to foundation damage.

While some photos may depict damage due to a slab leak, all photos shown do not reflect damage specifically from a slab leak.

 

SUMMARY:  This article was written to demonstrate how incorrect slab leak repair had a notably increased risk of failing and leaking again.   We have outlined steps you can take to help ensure the repairs are done correctly.  These safeguards provide a second set of eyes (the City Plumbing Inspector) checking the work to see it’s done correctly:

  • Ask if the plumber coming to your home has a Plumber License.
  • Ask to see the license before work begins.
  • Ask if the plumber will pull the required Plumbing Permits.
  • Tell them you want a copy of your Plumbing Permit.
  • Ask if they leave their repair visible until a City Plumbing Inspector checks the work.
  • Insist the repair be left visible until the City inspects it.

Also discussed is the damage a slab leak can cause under a home when the owner does not know it’s occurring until visible damage to the slab foundation or home appears.  There is additional potential risk when damage appears, but is not considered to be caused by a slab leak repair that was already completed (but failed).  A notably increased water bill is one of the first signs a slab leak is present.

Slab movement in DFW is a major cause of foundation damage requiring expensive repairs.  Beyond the foundation, many additional costly repairs can be needed to correct damage to the house resulting from slab movement.   Most slab movement is along the outside edges and corners of the slab.  This is due to the soil around the foundation having large changes in soil-moisture.  In our blog, we offer separate articles about maintaining soil moisture-level around the perimeter of the home to minimize slab movement.

Slab movement caused by a slab leak is more likely to surface as in a crack or heaving in the slab where the slab leak is located. If not corrected, a slab leak has the potential to cause significant damage due to tremendous upward pressure from below the slab.  We have photos of both instances within this article.

 

Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C performs Slab Leak Repairs.  Al’s also performs any plumbing repair needed.  Al’s repairs or replaces both electric and gas water heaters.

You can have peace of mind that a plumbing repair completed by Al’s is done correctly, and in compliance with Building Codes for the City where the home is located.  Here’s why:

  • All of Al’s plumbers are individually licensed.
  • Al’s always pulls all required City Plumbing Permits prior to beginning a repair.
  • Al’s coordinates the City Inspection for you.
  • After the City Inspector signs off on the work, Al’s returns to cover the repairs (as agreed before work began)

Additionally,  Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C: maintains and repairs all brands of  residential Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems.  Al’s also sells and installs new HVAC Systems from: American Standard (same manufacturer as Trane), Ameristar  (a value-priced product line from American Standard) and Coleman HVAC Systems.

Call Al’s today to discuss virtually any plumbing or HVAC problem you are having.  We offer 24 / 7 Emergency Service plus appointments at your convenience.  And when we’re done, rest assured the work was done correctly.

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