Finding Slab Leaks With Infrared

Revealing Hidden Defects

A recent inspection was taking its normal course. Appliances, Electrical, plumbing, HVAC etc. were all checking out OK. Our client was very happy, as they had done their homework and researched houses built in the 1970’s. They had downloaded our “What to Expect When Buying a House Built in the 1970’s” white paper, and were ready for the common defects we usually find.

Most houses built through the 1950’s were built on a raised foundation. This made it easy to access the house from underneath and service any wiring or plumbing. When it became common to build a house on slabs, the plumbing was often buried just under the concrete. No effort was made to isolate, or protect the copper plumbing from the corrosive effect of concrete. Ten or twenty years later, leaks developed in the pipes causing water to soak the slab. These are commonly know as “slab leaks” which are actually pipes leaking in a slab.

During every inspection we use our thermal imaging cameras after running all of the plumbing fixtures and testing the heating system. We use the cameras to check walls and ceilings, and Finding slab leaks with I Rwe often find leaks under 2nd floor bathrooms. But in this case it was revealing to scan the floors. As you can see from the Infrared Image, there was a cold water slab-leak under the family room floor. While the image makes it look obvious, no water could be seen on the floor. And since this was a cold water leak, it was less likely to be detected than a hot water leak which are often discovered by walking barefoot and feeling the heat.

Luckily our client was able to have the leak repaired by the seller as part of their request for repairs. This saved them a few thousand dollars!

This is just one example of why you want to use an inspector with Infrared Thermal Imaging cameras, and who knows how to use it. All of our home inspectors are trained to search for hidden defects. Visit our website for more details on what we do.

About the author: Philippe Heller is the President of The Real Estate Inspection Company. It is the largest home inspection company in San Diego, and the only one to offer an Inspection Guarantee.