DEAR BARRY: Our home is about 12 years old and has radiant heat tubing in the concrete slab floor. We’ve discovered slab cracks in the floor tiles and some of the grout lines and are afraid the hot water pipes in the slab will also crack and cause leaks in the house. If that happens, we’ll have to replace the entire slab. Are the people who sold us the house four years ago still liable, and should we notify our homeowners insurance company about a potential flooding problem? –Dennis

DEAR DENNIS: If the cracks are less than 1/8 inch wide, they are most likely typical stress cracks caused by concrete shrinkage or by expansive soil. Cracks of this kind are present in most slabs but are usually not visible through floor coverings — except tile floors, of course.

When ceramic tiles are installed without a slip sheet on the slab, hairline stress cracks in the slab can appear in the tiles and grout lines. Radiant heat tubes are unlikely to be affected because they have sufficient flexibility to accommodate normal cracks and stresses. If you haven’t had any leaks so far, there is probably no basis for worry.

Without a history of leakage, there is no reason to raise this issue with the previous owners, especially after four years. As for notifying your insurance company, your insurance agent should advise you in that regard.

DEAR BARRY: The pipes in my walls make weird clanking noises. The place is about 15 years old, but I moved in only recently. Whenever I wash the dishes or use the bathroom sink, I hear pounding sounds, like someone is punching the walls. And late every night, when all is quiet, I hear the same sounds, without even running the water.

I know this is not normal because I’ve lived in many houses, and none of the others had this problem. What is going on in my home? Can I do something about it now, or do I have to wait for some kind of catastrophe? –Talia

DEAR TALIA: The knocking sounds in your walls do not portend a catastrophe. These noises typically occur when pipes are expanding and contracting in response to temperature changes. When you wash the dishes or use the bathroom sink, hot water runs through the cold pipes, causing them to expand.

Late at night, the coolness of the evening causes the pipes to contract. When pipes are loosely fitted in the wall framing, movement can occur without noticeable sounds. When the pipes in the walls are tightly fitted, as is probably the case in your home, expansion and contraction can cause noises as the pipes move against the wood framing.

To correct this problem, drywall will have to be removed from some walls to provide access to the troubled areas. At worst, the problem is a nuisance, rather than a warning of worse things to come. If you are unable to bear the noises, have a licensed plumber give you a bid for repairs.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription