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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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Chinese Cast Iron: A Colossal Cause For Concern?

Chinese Cast Iron: A Colossal Cause For Concern?
Throughout the last decade, the housing industry has been flooded with high-profile Chinese-manufactured product failures prompting a worrisome construction defect epidemic. The multifamily industry has already been exposed to these troubling products, that often produce negative health effects to residents and damage to buildings, in addition to the reluctance of insurance companies to cover or remediate costs associated with replacing the defective product. The following examples show a history of concern regarding Chinese-manufactured products:   Chinese Drywall During the construction boom in the early-mid 2000’s, and following a severely damaging hurricane season in 2005, a shortage of drywall spurred builders to import Chinese-manufactured material, particularly to the Southeast region. Issues with the product included pre-mature corrosion of electronics and appliances, caused by hydrogen sulfide, as well as health effects from short and long-term exposure to low-levels of sulfur gases emitted from the material. Several class action lawsuits have been filed against importers and manufacturers to varying degrees of settlement success. Last March, when CBS News’s “60 Minutes” exposed Lumber Liquidators practice of importing defective laminate flooring to the U.S., the company pulled Chinese-produced flooring from distribution. However, the negative effects of the material linger: the CDC recently published a report announcing that “certain Lumber Liquidator flooring from China could have triple the amount of cancer-causing formaldehyde than originally thought.” While this material involved only certain product lines of the laminate flooring, class action lawsuits are currently in the works.   Is Chinese-produced cast iron piping next? Many mid to high-rise buildings located in ......
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Copper Corrosion…It’s The Pits.

Copper Corrosion…It’s The Pits.
Copper Corrosion…It’s The Pits. Copper piping has been used in domestic water supply systems for nearly 100 years.  Originally, copper piping was projected to last 20-25 years, but with changes in water chemistry and other environmental factors, the rate of corrosion has accelerated, and the longevity of copper pipes has become a valid concern.   The Causes Many theories and a lot of research exist regarding the primary cause of copper pipe corrosion and it can be difficult to identify one single cause.   Once you navigate through the media noise and scientific engineering jargon, it’s clear that copper pitting corrosion is caused by a combination of factors–including improper pipe installation, bacteria, electrical grounding, soil acidity, pipe manufacture quality, water chemistry, the environment and more. In hotbed areas like Florida, Texas and California (where one could argue copper corrosion is an epidemic), there are increasing reports of premature copper corrosion and leaking pipes, often in buildings that are just a few years old.  But, it’s not limited to just those three states.  Trends show that states with higher amounts of chloramines and sulfites have copper pitting problems, ultimately resulting in the ubiquitous “pinhole leak” phenomenon.   But Why The Sudden Increase In Copper Corrosion?  Ironically, it’s the result of an increased public health effort to keep people safe.  Municipalities, following state and federal standards for safe drinking water, add chloramines and sulfites to treat the local water and keep the drinking water free of bacteria (and safer to drink).  Chloramines are chemical compou......
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Top Five Signs You May Need A Repipe

Top Five Signs You May Need A Repipe
Top Five Signs You May Need A Repipe  The first step in making any diagnosis is identifying and understanding the symptoms. Symptoms can be subtle or obvious and it’s important, especially when it comes to piping systems, to catch any signs of a potential problem before it becomes catastrophic. To help you identify whether or not it might be time to consider a repipe, here are the top five signs to watch for:   1.  Low or unbalanced water pressure This is usually a sign of severely corroded metallic pipes. When corrosion builds up on the interior of the pipe, water output is greatly reduced to sinks, showers and more. 2.  Scalding Showers or Extreme Temperature Fluctuations Hot water lines often deteriorate faster than cold water lines. When these lines begin to deteriorate, corrosion debris gets trapped and lodged within the anti-scalding devices built into sinks and tubs/shower valves – preventing these devices from working as designed. 3.  Discolored Water Water that has a brown or red tint is a sign of corroded pipes.  When corroded metal flakes off the interior of the pipe it causes water to be discolored. 4.  Recurring leaks When pipes begin to fail, they leak.  However, many property owners mistake minor leaks as par for the course when it comes to plumbing.  Although that can be the case in some instances, most often, if your building is more than 20 years old, minor leaks are the number one indicator of an entire piping network that is on ......
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The Problem With Epoxy

The Problem With Epoxy
Epoxy pipe lining is often viewed as an alternative to replacing the old piping with a completely new system.  In theory, the lining process involves coating the inside of the pipes with an epoxy resin to seal off pinholes and corrosion, creating a lasting solution to solving your pipe problems.  That’s the theory. In practice, the challenges with epoxy are numerous: For one, there is no way to know how well the epoxy adhered to the inside of the pipe, and if an even coat was achieved, without cutting into the pipe. Second, if a leak occurs at a future date, repairing an epoxy-lined pipe is very difficult. The resin cannot take heat, and application of a torch to try and solder in a new piece of pipe or a fitting ruins the integrity of the lining at that location. Likewise, use of a “press-fit” connection (the solution by many epoxy companies for epoxy-lined pipe repairs) may crack the epoxy lining at the point of the repair, allowing water to get between the pipe and the lining, further corroding the pipe. The initial epoxy lining process itself creates a certain amount of pressure on the pipe walls, and may blow out at weak spots or threaded areas. And lastly, critical elements of the piping system are often excluded in an epoxy lining job. Because of these challenges, SageWater encounters failed epoxy lining jobs, or partially completed epoxy lining jobs, that now require a full pipe replacement.  These, as well as other epoxy......
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Repiping For Resident Retention

Repiping For Resident Retention
Proactive Planning For Worry Free Plumbing & Resident Satisfaction In our last blog post, we recommended that the New Year serves as a good reminder to assess and inspect your piping systems to ensure they are in proper working condition and not showing any dangerous signs of aging. Taking proactive steps to maintain a functional and leak free plumbing system is one of the key elements of providing a comfortable home and keeping your residents happy. In the age of ‘everything online all the time’, bad news spreads quickly and residents are leveraging various online channels (BBB, Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook, ApartmentRatings, and others) to communicate their displeasure and frustration.  Every property has residents looking for opportunities to criticize their community, and there is no better reason to criticize than having a plumbing leak that does a lot of damage. If your community is having or has had its fair share of leaks, it is critical to remedy the situation quickly and decisively to avoid this resident criticism.  If leaks are not immediately addressed, residents feel as though the property does not care about their living conditions, personal belongings, safety or well-being.   From a resident’s perspective, a leak, no matter how small, is a real emergency, so it’s critical that your property has effective and clear communication protocols in place to keep residents informed on the steps being taken to remedy the problem. Properties that have repeated leaks are often faced with considerable resident dissatisfaction, lowered resident retention and increased costs (......
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When Good Pipes Go Bad

When Good Pipes Go Bad
A neglected plumbing system is a ticking time bomb As buildings age, building components need to be replaced—some more regularly than others. The best property managers know what these components are, and they plan for (and, more importantly, communicate regarding) their replacement well in advance so building owners can budget and be prepared. Unfortunately, many building components are hidden and therefore easily overlooked. To make matters worse, some managers and owners operate under the false assumption that certain parts of a building are meant to last the lifetime of the building. This is simply not the case, especially with plumbing. Whether defective or age-related, plumbing issues can be some of the worst a property can experience, given the nature of flooding leaks and their total potential damage to a building's structure and the property of residents. Other interior wall systems (i.e., electrical wiring or HVAC ducts) tend to have longer lifespans than plumbing, and they fail less often and less spectacularly. It's one thing to have your lights not turn on when you flick the switch— but having water flowing all over your furniture represents a totally different level of urgency and crisis. As such, it's critical that building owners and property managers inspect their pipes regularly. Obviously a small leak or drain stoppage is the first warning sign, but as leaks or stoppages begin to occur regularly, it's a good indication that there is a more systemic problem. While repiping a building is not inexpensive, it can be far less cos......
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