The Effects of a Burst Pipe on Your Foundation and Home

a blue pipe is connected to a red pipe

In most Houston homes, plumbing systems are installed underneath the slab, which is typically done in homes that sit on a pier and beam foundation, or within the slab, in the case of a slab-on-grade foundation. However, concrete slabs and plumbing systems aren’t a good combination. That is mainly because foundation issues can lead to plumbing problems, while plumbing problems, like a burst pipe under your home, could cause damage to the foundation. Given that a home’s plumbing system is located close to the foundation or goes straight through it to connect to the local water supply and sewer systems, finding out the potential effects of a burst pipe on your foundation and home could help you understand why it’s important to fix leaky pipes as soon as you discover them. Here are a few problems that one or more burst pipes could cause in your home.

Excess Water Can Damage Concrete Structures

When a pipe that runs under or through a concrete slab breaks, the water coming from it can migrate within the slab and toward other concrete elements, such as the piers supporting your home. Failure to repair the pipe immediately could lead to excess water and moisture accumulating in or around concrete structures. This accumulation of water and moisture can result in higher hydrostatic pressure, which could cause cracking, crumbling, chipping, flaking, and bowing in different concrete elements.

On the other hand, if too much water accumulates in the clay soil underneath your foundation, the soil will expand considerably. As a result, the soil will start to push against the foundation, potentially forcing it out of its level position. Excess water will also soften the soil, allowing the foundation to move and shift even more. Heaving and differential settlement are two problems that usually result from the expansion and softening of clay soil.

When left untreated, a burst pipe could cause significant, even irreparable damage that may affect different areas of your home, from the foundation to the roof. Thus, if you suspect a leak in your plumbing system, be sure to have it fixed as soon as possible.

Excess Water and Moisture Can Break Down Flooring Materials

A leaky pipe in or underneath your slab could also lead to water stains as well as buckling or warping in your floors. In general, water stains appear as dark spots on your floor, while bulking or warping looks like elevated areas or bumps in the flooring. Both of these problems usually occur near the damaged pipe, so they’re good indicators of a leak’s location.

In addition to these issues, a leak that’s severe enough and lasts for a while could deteriorate flooring adhesives. This means that tiles, vinyl, and any other flooring options that have required adhesive to be installed may begin to detach from the slab. As well, Carpets can get waterlogged and moldy. The longer a leak goes unnoticed and spreads to different areas of your flooring system, the more damage it could cause.

Wooden Elements Will Eventually Start to Rot

Similar to other Houston homes, your home may include different structural and decorative elements made of wood, ranging from support beams, house framing, and door/window frames to molding. When exposed to water or excess moisture for a long time, wood is at the highest risk of developing wet or dry rot. Because wood-decay problems are caused by fungi, they can easily spread to other areas and secretly affect different decorative elements and structural components in your wall, floor, and roof systems. If a leak has been going on for some time, you may have to replace some of the wood in your home.

Unfortunately, wood rot isn’t the only problem to worry about when you have a burst pipe in your home. Wood can also swell and shrink considerably according to its moisture content. All this movement may cause wood elements to warp and twist, which could lead to a series of structural problems throughout your home.

A Leaky Pipe Can Cause Electrical Problems

When water comes in contact with electricity, it creates a risk for short circuits, electrical fires, and even electrocution. Here are a few signs that could help you determine whether you have electrical malfunctions in your home:

  • Voltage fluctuations;
  • Flickering lights;
  • Consistently malfunctioning appliances;
  • Sparks in your electrical outlets.

By corroborating these signs with those of leaky pipes—such as dark patches on your floors or across walls, mold on the walls, and standing water in your crawlspace or next to your home—you can prevent both electrical problems and water damage in your home.

Whether you’re dealing with the aftermath of a burst pipe, or you simply want to make sure that your plumbing system and foundation are in good condition, our professionals are here to help. Contact Allied Foundation today for a free foundation consultation and estimate, or to learn more about the services we provide!

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