Help needed - Post Tension cable

Hi, I had a cable break. 2 inches were sticking out of the foundation. The tension cable company came and pulled out the cable. The cable had snapped 5 feet on one side of the house which happens to line up with the toilet.

When they pulled out the 5ft section (near the bathroom) appr 2 tablespoons of water came with it. Is it normal for water to come out with the cable? No other water came out while the tension hole was open.

I checked the water meter (without using any in the house) and the meter did not move at all for the hour I checked it. The 2 tablespoons of water was not sewage (looked clean didnt smell).

The cable company installed the new cable but didnt put tension on it yet.

Here are some questions:
So basically wondering if it is normal to have a small amount of water come out with the cable, if not where does the water go if there is some kind of leak? (in the ground?) is there a channel of pipes near the cable? or is everything filled with concrete? If everything is filled with concrete not sure how water came into contact with the cable? Do they need to jackhammer the foundation to see whats going on?


prefab tendon coils are delivered to the job site and dumped/piled in proximity to the future slab
precipitation before concrete placement or overly wet pour could allow water migration into the plastic sheath
the tendons are greased so the amount should be miniscule unless the sheath was damaged or improperly cut for placement, often seen in this market
this article may help you visualize what takes place

flush the suspect toilet a few times and recheck the tendon opening
could be a drain side leak but doubtful from your description

i’d be interested in seeing any pictures if you have
load on one of the free cloud sites and post the link or you can email me directly

Barry is correct. The moisture has likely been trapped inside the cables since the initial placement.

Cable failures are more common than most people realize. A break in the cable as you have described is usually the result of a cable that was damaged during or prior to placement. Other causes are obvious, such as cutting, coring or drilling the slab.

Your condition sounds very normal for a broken tendon, and FYI - “jack-hammering” the PT foundation will result in major failures and possibly personal injury.

Thanks Barry and Jeff for your quick responses.
I did flush the toilet a few times and nothing came out of the hole. They already put the cable through - but didnt tension it yet - otherwise I could have flushed some more.

What bothers me is the cable tension guy didnt know that or say that could be there could have been water in the cable initially? (maybe he just wanted me to check out the toilet incoming pipe and drain).

We did touch, smell the water and it was not sewage for sure. So that lead me to believe it would be the pipe coming into the toilet. But when I checked and the meter wasnt moving i really was confused. If there was a small leak that is not registering from the meter like a drip… where would the water go? into the concrete?

Would it be worth it to have a plumber come check anyways? I was worried the snapping of the cable may have affected the toilet pipe or drain…

Any leak in the supply system will be indicated in the “leak indicator” at the utilities meter. You can have the system pressure tested but I don’t see that as necessary.

Although it is possible, it is very unlikely that the cable has affected any plumbing pipes or fixtures. Residential cables are relatively short and will rarely breach the slab surfaces upon failure.

Hi Jeff, I think he was worried that the cable was next to them, not necessary would breach the concrete but might touch them on the side as it snapped. I am not sure how close they put tension cables to pipes and drains.

Not sure if the cable was wrapped in sheathing, the sheathing didnt come out if it was, only the cable came out when they pulled it out. The cable tension guy did say the new cable may not fit through the hole so that is probably they removed the sheathing but they added lots of grease, so much that it was coming out the other end when they pushed it through.

Another question, since this slab was poured in 2007, Wouldnt any water in the cable have evaporated by now or because it was sealed in the concrete the water cant escape at all, not even into the concrete?

The cable is sheathed, without a doubt. That’s how it’s done in PT foundations. “Dry” cable is a whole different animal.

The sheathing will not come out with the cable. The original cable was a 5/8" cable and the replacement was 1/2". The same size cable cannot be pushed back through.

The water within the cable is encapsulated within plastic and concrete. There’s no way it can evaporate.

Bob, I wouldn’t be worried about the minimal moisture compared to the cable break in the slab.