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How Oklahoma's Red Clay Soil Affects Plumbing

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Oklahoma’s red clay soil can destroy your plumbing
Oklahoma’s red clay soil can destroy your plumbing

You may have heard that Oklahoma's soil is primarily composed of red clay, but how does that affect a home's plumbing?

Red clay can cause a variety of problems, from expansive soil to slab leaks.

In this article, we will discuss how Oklahoma's red clay contributes to soil expansion, the challenges that expansive soil poses, the common signs of plumbing damage created by soil expansion, and how to prevent plumbing issues caused by Oklahoma's expansive soil.

How Does Oklahoma's Red Clay Contribute to Soil Expansion?

Oklahoma's red clay plays a crucial role in soil expansion due to its unique mineral composition and physical characteristics.

The clay's rich iron content creates the distinctive red color and contributes to its expansive nature. Red clay has a high percentage of fine particles, particularly clay and silt, which possess a greater surface area and retain water more effectively than coarser soils.

During periods of moisture absorption, the clay particles attract water molecules, causing them to swell. Conversely, in dry conditions, the clay contracts as it releases water.

This process of swelling and contraction is a primary factor in soil expansion. The expansive nature of Oklahoma's red clay can present challenges for construction and infrastructure, as the soil's volume changes significantly with moisture levels.

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What Challenges Does Expansive Soil Pose to Plumbing in Oklahoma?

Expansive soil in Oklahoma poses specific challenges to plumbing, particularly in the context of slab foundations.

According to the Colorado Geological Survey, it is estimated that expansive soil causes infrastructure losses in excess of tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes combined.

The swelling and contraction of the red clay can exert substantial pressure on plumbing systems, especially when embedded within or under slab foundations. This pressure fluctuation may lead to the development of leaks under slab, occurring when pipes beneath the foundation sustain damage due to the soil's movements.

We have a detailed article that breaks down the causes of slab leaks.

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What Are the Common Signs of Plumbing Issues Caused by Expansive Soil in Oklahoma?

Identifying plumbing issues caused by expansive soil in Oklahoma can be challenging, as most of these issues are hidden beneath the home.

One indicator is the presence of slab leaks. There are four common signs that homeowners can look out for to determine if they have a slab leak:

  1. Damp and Mold: Certain areas of the floor or carpet may be damp or discolored, indicating water seeping through the foundation.
  2. baseboard stains from a slab leak
    Baseboard stains from a slab leak
  3. Sunken Floors: As expansive soil exerts pressure on plumbing embedded in slab foundations, it often leads to leaks that compromise the structural integrity of the foundation. Homeowners may notice uneven or sunken floors, resulting from soil expansion and contraction beneath the foundation.
  4. Increased Water Use: If your water bill seems unexpectedly high or your water meter increases when all your faucets and appliances are turned off, it's possible you may have a slab leak. However, this method may not detect smaller leaks.
  5. The Sound of Running Water: Another sign to look out for is the sound of running water when no faucets or appliances are in use. If the sound persists even after turning off all water sources, it could be a sign of a slab leak.

Recognizing these telltale signs is crucial for early detection and intervention, allowing homeowners to address plumbing issues promptly and mitigate potential damage caused by expansive soil in Oklahoma.

For more information, we have an extended list of the common warning signs of slab leaks.

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How to Stop Plumbing Issues Caused by Oklahoma's Expansive Soil

The most effective solution to stopping plumbing issues caused by Oklahoma's expansive soil is to reroute plumbing through wall cavities, bypassing the slab foundations entirely.

Using materials such as PEX tubing, known for its flexibility and resistance to corrosion, allows for a more adaptive and long-lasting plumbing system. By routing plumbing through interior walls, homeowners can avoid direct contact with the expansive soil, eliminating the risk of slab leaks and potential damages they may cause.

routing new PEX tubing through walls
Routing new PEX tubing through walls

If you have already experienced a slab leak caused by Oklahoma's expansive soil, repiping is almost always the more cost-effective solution. We have an article that explores why you should repipe rather than repair a slab leak caused by expansive soil.

Repiping through walls not only addresses existing concerns but also serves as a preventive strategy, providing a long-term solution against the challenges posed by Oklahoma's expansive soil.

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Here at Repipe Specialists, we've fully replaced the plumbing in over 75,000 homes since 1991 using both copper piping and PEX tubing. We continually get positive customer feedback from customers about their overall home repipe experiences. We often exceed their expectations on:

  • Speed: Our repipe crews typically complete a repipe in a day, returning on another day for wall patching.
  • Convenience: Through our One-Stop Repipe™ Process, we handle everything from permits, to wall patching, to inspections.
  • Cleanliness: Our crews are trained to protect your home while working (we cover all surfaces with protective sheeting), and to clean up fully at the end of each day.
  • Peace of Mind: Repipe Specialists is a fully licensed plumber in every state we operate in, and we back all of our repipes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Financing programs: To help take the sting out of unplanned repipe expenses, we offer several financing programs.
  • Price: As a specialist that performs hundreds of repipes a week, we can deliver high-quality repipes at a lower cost vs generalist plumbers. We have an article that covers repipe cost factors in detail. Our quotes typically range from $4,500 to $15,000 depending on the size and complexity of your project.

Schedule a free in-home consult, and one of our local repipe consultants will explain all your repipe options and provide you with a written, fixed-price quote. Stop the effects of Oklahoma's expansive soil, repipe now.

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Since our founding in 1991, we've been completing residential and multi-family building repipes to the highest standard.

With over 75,000 repipes completed, we've perfected our  One Stop Repipe™ process: providing you with a high quality and convenient repipe experience while offering significant savings compared to traditional plumbers - plus, our work is guaranteed for life.

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