When you experience a plumbing leak in your home, you may suspect that faulty pipes are the cause. However, it is important not to overlook the central role that foundations often play in these types of problems.
Why Do Foundations Move?
The foundations on which most homes and businesses are built are a concrete slab that is placed directly on the soil of the property. Unfortunately, soil is prone to moving, even in areas that do not experience any seismic activity.
Weather conditions such as snow, rain, and heat can cause the soil to shift, while excess water sometimes penetrates foundations. Moreover, concrete’s porous nature enables it to absorb water, which can also cause shifting or cracking. Moisture can lead to the formation of loose pockets of soil that can spur slow movement in the foundation. These movements can be so slow that they are difficult for you to detect from inside the home.
How Does a Shifting Foundation Damage Your Pipes?
When the foundation of a structure moves, it can place pressure on the pipes that are around and below it and may cause them to shift as well. This movement is typically rather slow, which means that the leaks occur gradually over time and are largely unnoticeable in the beginning. This is why experts recommend that you check your basement or crawl space at least once a month for the first signs of leaks.
A moving foundation can slowly pull your home’s pipes apart or shift them until they are bent and misshapen. In some cases, this may only impact your outdoor plumbing, like your sprinkler system. However, it does sometimes make its way to the indoor plumbing system. Moreover, Homeowners who have had foundation work carried out recently should contact a plumber afterward to make sure that the plumbing system was not affected by the work.
How Can Leaking Pipes Compromise a Foundation?
Just as a shifting foundation can cause pipes to become damaged, leaks under the foundation can also damage it by saturating the soil and causing the foundation to move or shift. This gradual shifting and washing away of soil can cause holes or pockets to form beneath the foundation, which can lead to sagging, shifting, cracks, and other problems.
How Can I Tell If My Plumbing Problem Is Related to My Foundation?
Here is a look at some signs that the plumbing issues you are experiencing could be related to your foundation.
You Observe Wet Floors Where Water Comes Through the Slab
If you see water saturating a particular area of the floor in your home, it could be related to your foundation. This water might appear near an area in the building where supply lines come through the foundation on their way to a fixture, or it may happen in a random place that is not near a plumbing fixture. If you pull back your flooring and observe a crack in your slab foundation with water coming through it, you should call a plumber right away.
Your Water Bill Is Increasing, But You Do Not See Any Dripping Faucets or Fixtures
If your water bills have been rising, but you have not increased your consumption and your water provider has not increased their rates, it could indicate that you have a leak in your building. Sometimes, these leaks occur without any visible signs such as dripping faucets. A supply line leak or breakage can cause foundation issues that are very difficult for homeowners to detect. Therefore, if you notice increasing water bills, it is time to call a plumber to find out what could be causing it.
Your Draining Fixtures Are Gurgling
If the drains in your home are slow to work and you hear a gurgling sound when the contents of the sink eventually drain away, there may be an air flow or venting problem. Sometimes, when a foundation shifts, it can cause a drain line to get pulled and form a separation, break, or misalignment in the line that normally enables air to make its way into the pipes. This can cause the drain lines to flow slowly and create that telltale gurgling sound.
Contact the D.C. Metro Area Plumbing Experts at O’Connor Plumbing
If you are experiencing any type of leak in your home, contact the experienced plumbers at O’Connor Plumbing right away. With more than 70 years of experience in the industry, our team is prepared to help businesses and homeowners throughout the D.C. Metro area with all plumbing and foundation problems. Call us at (833) 744-4644 or schedule an in-person or virtual appointment online today.