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Question DetailsAsked on 10/11/2013

Which is better for leak underneath foundation: tunnel underneath, or cut thru slab? Our home is in S Florida.

Last month's water usage went up 6-fold (6k gals to 37k gals). Had water utility rep come out. He took walk around house, and pointed out water coming from underneath east side of house, right where there is an exterior hose hook-up. Our house blueprint shows that the hose hook-up is exactly opposite a perpendicular wall on the inside, that separates 2 bedrooms. Apparently we don't just need a plumber; we need the foundation expertise also (ie, tunneling or cutting). Is there one type of contractor that covers both of these areas of expertise.
Or, is it better to select a foundation company, and then a plumber? If soil type is important, our exact location is 33067 in Broward County, Florida.

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I assume you have a slab on grade house, not a crawlspace. If crawlspace, then pipe can just be fixed under the floor in the crawlspace. Following assumes leak is under concrete floor slab.

The exact location of the leak (plus or minus a foot or so) is quite easy to find with a stethoscope if the water is still on - a real metal one from a pharmacy for about $10 - not a plastic one from WalMart. Unless the leak is within a couple of feet of the foundation wall, best to cut through the slab to fix it. Tunneling removes a LOT more earth, you have to support the foundation, and you never get the compaction of the backfill that you should so the floor slab usually ends up cracking in a few years - plus is going to be a wet muddy mess underneath, even with the water turned off.

No big thing to do - happens all the time, and plumbers know how to do it - some cut the slab themselves with abrasive blade in skil saw or electric jackhammer, some call an emergency concrete cutting firm to saw a piece out. The big decision is going to be whether to just fix it, or also to replace the line. Since you are in frost-free country it does not have to be under the slab to protect from frost, so if the break is due to general pipe deterioration, you might consider having the line brought up the outside of the house, then horizontally through the flooring (overhead floor joists) to the original point of distribution - usually by your furnace and hot water heater. Cost for the fix typically around $500 for plumber, plus about $0-500 depending on overlying flooring repairs needed (hardwood, carpet, or whatever). Line relocation in $300-600 ballpark assuming depth of burial at the foundation is only a foot or two. If full basement, then roughly double that range.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD




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