Orange County’s Slab Leak History

Orange County’s Slab Leak History

Most home plumbing issues have a long and extensive history, but that’s not the case with slab leaks. Slab leaks may have been an issue in other countries, but slab leaks had never affected U.S. residents, but that all changed when slab leaks literally “burst” on the scene throughout the Southwestern United States in the early 1980s.

The early 80’s provided tremendous economic growth, plentiful jobs and a huge increase in the populations of the entire Southwestern region, but none more so than California in general and Southern California in particular. The demand for new construction far outweighed the supply and new homes were popping up out of nowhere throughout the greater Orange County area.

Home builders and contractors discovered that the most efficient way to complete construction was by building houses on large concrete slabs. Builders could literally pour an entire giant cement slab foundation in a day and, while the cement was still wet, they could lay in all the soft copper piping needed to supply an entire household. The piping would run the length and width of the cement slab foundation and reach wherever they wanted or needed water within the house and according to the floor plan.  To complete the process, a piece of pipe would be left sticking out of the cement in whatever room needed water.

Unfortunately, there was a rather large problematic issue with the concept of burying soft copper piping in a cement foundation: soft copper pipe is extremely weak. Any type of stress, kink, fold, bend or even a small nick could weaken the piping over time resulting in pin-hole leaks. Much of the soft copper piping used during that period of home construction was often damaged during the installation and cementing process, but builders were forced to use soft copper piping because building codes at the time forbid the use of hard copper.

Symptoms of a Slab Leak:

  • Seeing or feeling wet spots on floor surfaces that don’t ever seem to dry.
  • Areas of your floor that are consistently warmer, even hotter, than other parts of your flooring surfaces, but aren’t anywhere near your heating system or furnace.
  • A sudden spike in your monthly water usage and a significantly higher water bill. Having a slab leak means your water leaks all day and all night, resulting in a significantly higher monthly water bill.
  • Another common symptom that you have a slab leak is when it sounds like water is running all the time even when all the faucets in your house are turned off.

Common Causes Associated with Slab Leaks:

  • Soft copper piping can develop rust and deterioration factors worsen over time.
  • Soft Copper piping, or tubing, is prone to suffer dents, nicks and kinks during construction and these nicks and dings are likely to become pin-hole leaks and/or outright breaks over time and consistent pressure.
  • Some areas of our country experience water that has an unusually high “hardness factor.” The “hardness factor” is a directly related to the amount of calcium, lime and iron in your water.


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