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Innovations From the Leaders In Pipe Replacement

Video Series: Planning For The Realities Of Aging & Failing Piping Systems

The ultimate deep dive video series that uncovers the critical issues surrounding the decision to repipe. Listen to industry experts discuss the national impact of aged-based corrosion, get insights on how to navigate critical insurance challenges, uncover the uniqueness of repipe based loans, and hear what's most important to seasoned multifamily professionals when it comes to simply smarter pipe replacement. hashtaghashtag  #repipe

 

 

 

 

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$43.5 Million NIBCO PEX Class Action Settlement Announced

$43.5 Million NIBCO PEX Class Action Settlement Announced

It appears as though allegedly defective plumbing products have hit the market again. On October 26th, 2018, the NIBCO PEX Settlement Administrator and Plaintiffs’ law firms announced a class action settlement involving allegedly defective PEX tubing, fittings, and clamps. Per the settlement website: “You may be entitled to benefits from a class action settlement if: (a) you have owned or occupied at any time since January 1, 2005, a residential or commercial structure in the United States that contains or contained NIBCO’s Pex Tubing, Fittings or Clamps and have unreimbursed costs or damages resulting from water leaking from one of these products, or (b) you have repaired or paid to repair damage resulting from water leaking from one of these products in one of these structures.”

This is yet another setback for product manufacturers and represents a continuing set of challenges for the industry. Back in the late 90’s, certain PEX piping systems used yellow brass fittings which, under certain circumstances, dezincified and failed prematurely resulting in a series of class action lawsuits and settlements. Before that, in 1995, a one-billion-dollar class action settlement resulted in tens of thousands of homes being repiped but left tens of thousands more unprotected after they failed to replace their pipes during the qualifying settlement period.

For more information on the latest NIBCO settlement, please visit: http://www.pexsystemsettlement.com

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California Multifamily Professionals – Please Read This!

The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a sizeable recall notice on 11/8/18 for ~616,000 gas water heaters that were made between April 8, 2011, through August 1, 2016, which were primarily sold in California.  While anyone and everyone should check their water heater to see if they have an affected unit, multifamily owners and managers should also be proactive in determining if these recalled units are serving any of their communities – especially considering that approximately 1,200 apartment communities were built in California from 2011 through 2016 which represents an estimated total of just over 150,000 units.

Additional Resources & Information 

  • The official recall notice can be viewed on the CPSC website at https://goo.gl/zHy3LE
  • Consumers should go to https://www.waterheaterrecall.com, input their model and serial number and complete the form to determine if their water heater is subject to this recall
  • Consumers with Whirlpool, U.S. Craftmaster, or American Water Heater brand water heaters can call toll-free (866) 854-2793
  • Consumers with Reliance, State, A.O. Smith, and Kenmore brand water heaters can call toll-free (866) 880-4661

Hope this is helpful in some way and please don't hesitate to post questions and comments if there is anything else that I can do to help!

John Griffith

 

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Four Reasons Why Repiping Is The Proven Solution For Aging Properties

Four Reasons Why Repiping Is The Proven Solution For Aging Properties
The art of the modern multi-family repipe (the installation of new pipe to replace old or defective piping) has been around for over 30 years. As buildings begin to show their age, little thought is paid to the reality that aging is more than skin deep. Lurking behind the newly painted walls and beyond the fresh interior upgrades, the plumbing systems we rely on for drinking water, heat, and waste management begin to fail. As failures increase, more leaks are likely to occur.  And, history shows that a repipe solution is often the most efficient and reliable fix for leaking pipes. As such, here are four critical reasons why repiping is the most reliable and cost-effective method for fixing leaking pipes: Minimally Invasive  Counter to the common belief that a repipe is a messy and disruptive process, repiping is, in fact, a time-tested approach that guarantees a minimally disruptive project for both the residents and property management.  Holes are cut with surgical precision in the walls to route the new piping in the most efficient manner from the piping entry point in the unit to each fixture.  At the end of the first day, the unit typically has a completely new piping system.  Residents do not have to move out during the repipe process, and have the guarantee that water is back on and the unit is fully functional each evening. Reliability & Quality Control Contrary to alternative methods of pipe repair, repiping is a proven process and time-tested solution for replacing any......
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High-Rise Headaches

High-Rise Headaches
Leaking pipes can wreak havoc on high-rise communities and the lives of their residents.  While a catastrophic flood is a worst-case scenario, water damage, personal property losses, mold and increased insurance premiums are just a few of the unfortunate consequences of leaking pipes. As our nation’s building infrastructure ages, we are seeing a significant increase in failing piping systems across the country.  With an average life-span of 30-50 years for most piping systems, we predict a 40% increase in the number of high-rise properties requiring a full piping system replacement over the next ten years.  Further compounding the problem, poor local water quality in many jurisdictions is significantly shortening the estimated useful life of these systems, requiring some communities to repipe in as few as 10-12 years post original construction. When replacing pipes in high-rise communities, there are a number of unique logistical challenges that must be overcome to minimize disruption to residents and maximize the efficiency of the job.  These include: Planning for and scheduling elevator usage (and protection) while managing the limited space on an elevator to move materials and crews Minimizing shut downs to vertical stacks (and the building as a whole) through isolation valve installation and/or replacement Managing the vertical nature of pipe connections from floor to floor, sometimes requiring core drilling for vertical penetrations and installation of new firestopping Strategically planning for how to access the pipe including removal and resetting of tile, kitchens, vanities, lights, mirrors, etc. and putting it all back to its original f......
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Know the Life Expectancy of Your Community's Pipes – Before they Fail

Know the Life Expectancy of Your Community's Pipes – Before they Fail
Like most things in life, pipes don’t last forever. To accurately estimate the useful life of the piping systems at your property, as well as plan for maintenance costs and large capital improvement projects, it’s critical to understand how the environment, geography and other factors impact the resilience of those systems. When it comes to different pipe types (i.e., polybutylene, copper, galvanized steel pipe), each has an overall expected usable life based on their material. But when you look beyond the manufacturers’ data and national averages, location is key. With over 25 years of industry experience, we know that in certain areas of the United States, piping systems are failing at a faster rate.  While nationally the average life of polybutylene (“poly”) pipes is 26 years, in states like North Carolina and Virginia, poly pipes are failing up to ten years earlier.  Likewise, for galvanized steel pipes, the average life nationwide is 50 years, but in states like California, we are seeing galvanized pipes fail in as few as 18 years.   We have seen some copper pipes in perfectly good shape at 75 years old, while others have sprouted pinhole leaks at only 10 years of age due to the quality of the copper and the corrosiveness of the water. Cast iron pipe is expected to have a usable life of 50 years or more based on manufacturers claims, but there are reports of newly made Chinese Cast Iron that are failing at a much faster rate. For reasons “why” these certain......
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Polybutylene - 20 Years Later

Polybutylene - 20 Years Later

Polybutylene or “poly” for short was a plastic resin used in domestic water pipes and fittings between 1978-1995.  This gray plastic pipe was installed in up to 10 million garden style apartments, condominiums and single-family homes throughout North America.  

Unfortunately, common municipal water additives like chlorine attack poly pipes and fittings, leading to stress fractures and catastrophic failure, suddenly and without warning. In 1995, polybutylene manufacturers paid out a billion dollar settlement, but the timeline for making a claim has expired. For owners and property managers, only a small percentage of polybutylene properties were repiped during the settlement period, leaving millions of feet of defective piping unaddressed.  As a result, the prevalence of poly is still considerably high across the country.

The longer polybutylene is in use, the greater the risk of serious complications.  Left unaddressed, polybutylene cracks can result in severe property damage from flooding, mold infestation from undetected leaks, higher insurance premiums or even cancelled coverage, and not to mention – unhappy residents.

In recent years, the presence of polybutylene has impacted real estate transactions, both from the buyer side (unable to secure financing or insurance) and the seller side (decreased valuation and increased risk).  Currently, if you buy, sell or refinance a property, most insurers require polybutylene pipe replacement as a condition of the transaction.

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Corrosive Consequences Of Low-Flow Toilets

Corrosive Consequences Of Low-Flow Toilets
The Energy Policy Act of 1992, which became law in 1994, mandates a maximum flush volume of 1.6 gallons for toilets manufactured and installed after this date. Prior to enactment of the Energy Policy Act, toilets used from 3.5 to 5 gallons per flush.  According to the EPA, the water saved through implementation of the act has had a number of positive environmental consequences, including restoration of wetlands and fisheries and savings in the amount of energy needed to pump water. While intended to yield environmental benefits, the Energy Policy Act has unfortunately resulted in some unintended consequences on the nation’s plumbing systems. In older properties, the majority of drain pipes are galvanized steel or cast iron, which over time become corroded and rusty.  When an older property upgrades to low-flow toilets, there is often not enough water to keep waste and other disposables moving through the pipes. Further, as a result of the low-flow requirements, the ratio of water to sewage has changed, making the flow of waste thicker and slower, allowing the build up of bacteria, and producing a corrosive acidic gas that also causes corrosion in the piping system. Often, if the pipe is already corroded, toilet paper and waste can get caught on the rough corroded surface, further exacerbating the problem.  In the end, reduced flow and more concentrated waste result in a rapid acceleration of the corrosion process, ultimately leading to clogs, back-ups, broken pipes and leaks. Corroded drain pipes cause the overwhelming majority of water d......
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Rising Tides: The Catch 22 For Condos That Need A Repipe

Rising Tides: The Catch 22 For Condos That Need A Repipe
Your building is leaking.  Your pipes are failing.  Your insurance company might even be calling.  You need a repipe.  The problem is that it’s going to cost millions of dollars, and your board doesn’t have it in your reserves.  Do you take out a loan, issue a special assessment, or both to cover the costs?  Or do you wait, hoping you can raise the funds over the next several years, and try to buy more time? Unfortunately, for boards facing the prospect of a repipe in their community, making this choice is increasingly difficult, increasingly costly and increasingly litigious.  As I write this article, there are pending lawsuits against condo boards on both sides of the equation.   Pay Up and Stop The Leaks! In Hawaii, where a typical cast iron waste line replacement costs tens of thousands of dollars per unit, most properties, and homeowners, simply don’t have the cash to pay for it out of pocket.  Buildings that are in critical condition are declaring a “state of emergency,” and taking out loans to get the pipes fixed.  To pay off the loan, each owner’s portion of the loan payment is added to their monthly condo fees in order to cover the loan costs.  Sure, no one is happy about the increased fees, but the job gets done and the leaks stop. Clogged drain pipes, like this one, are causing a variety of problems in buildings across Hawaii including leaks, odors, slow running drains, and corrosion. But what happens when you live on......
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Selling a Multifamily Asset? Don’t Let Leaking Pipes Sink Your Deal

Selling a Multifamily Asset?  Don’t Let Leaking Pipes Sink Your Deal
There is no doubt, leaking pipes at your apartment complex are a nuisance.  From residents to property managers to maintenance supervisors to owners, everyone is impacted when a property is leaking.  Oftentimes, the thought of selling the property to get rid of the headache seems appealing.  However, leaking plumbing is hard to hide, and chances are you will not be able to pass off the property without taking a valuation hit unless you get the pipes fixed. If you are thinking of selling your property and are in need of a repipe, it is in your best financial interest to get your piping systems fixed before you list. With turnkey contractors who are able to quickly and cost effectively complete a repipe without moving out residents, selling a hassle free building will most assuredly increase the value of your property, which will typically offset the cost of the repipe. Because new pipes (installed behind patched walls) have no curb appeal and an ambiguous correlation to increased rents, many property owners are hesitant to make this upfront investment before listing their property.  However, inspectors, insurance agents, appraisers and potential buyers are sure to uncover the evidence if your property is leaking, and will either lose interest or submit a low-ball offer knowing the property has issues. By being upfront about the investments you have made (just like you would promote a new roof or renovated kitchens), promoting a recent repipe indicates to buyers that the property is well maintained and worth their......
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