Even if you do not have a foundation problem, you should test for plumbing and sewer line leaks. Over time, leaking and broken sewer lines can cause significant home foundation repair problems.
Houses built before 1974 usually have cast iron sewer lines and these houses have a higher probability of plumbing problems. Cast iron pipes corrode as they age so the older the house, the greater the chance that the plumbing pipes have failed. Cast iron pipes also have lead joints that are structurally weak and can separate after years of movement in Texas shifting soils. Basically, the older your home, the greater the chance your home may have a plumbing or sewer drain line problem. Please click the following link for a detailed and technical explanation of “Under-Slab Plumbing Leaks and Damaging Differential Foundation Movements.”
Generally houses that were built later than 1974 have PVC (thick, hard plastic) sewer pipes. These PVC pipes usually do not fail unless there has been some significant foundation movement. However we have been seeing more problems with PVC sewer pipes lately due to large, mature trees. Occasionally PVC pipes are found to be leaking because they were never connected correctly when the house was built. This leaking water will attract tree roots and frequently results in root penetration of and damage to the PVC pipe. Many times these tree roots will clog the PVC pipe and require repairs. Root barricades can be very helpful in preventing these types of problems.
Before starting home foundation repair work, a hydrostatic pressure test of the sewer / drain line under the slab can be performed by a licensed plumber. This is to establish if there are any existing leaks in the sewer drain lines. In some cases homeowners insurance will cover the cost of accessing sewer lines in order to repair them. Also, if an insurance company engineer concludes that leaks in the sewer lines caused the foundation problem, your homeowners insurance may cover some of the cost of home foundation repair. This test must be done before foundation repairs are begun for coverage to be effective.
Today, most new homeowners insurance coverage does not cover sewer drain line failure. Also, insurance policies do not cover plumbing problems that occur as a consequence of leveling a house.
Dawson offers trenching and under slab tunneling services so your plumber can install and/or repair your home’s sewer line pipes. We do this because we are a home foundation repair company and we want to see your home in good repair for the next 100+ years.
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Under Slab Plumbing Leaks and Damaging Differential Foundation Movements
by C. Randolph Riddell, P.E.