Archive for March 20th, 2012

Water Damage House

This isn’t about reaching blogging nirvana.  Or is it about blogging more although I was fairly distracted in January and February which did impact the number of posts.

It’s not even about the loud and proud motorcycle type pipe either.  It’s a story about my house pipes…  a broken water pipe to be exact!

It all started when I returned home after the holidays.  I set the luggage down in the family room and noticed that sections of the hardwood floor were warped.  Not what I remember and when you ran a hand across the floor it was obvious the wood slats were curved vs. being flat.  A sure sign of water seeping into the floor.  Nothing was obvious on the main floor as to the cause and doing a quick scan toward the garage I spied a side wall that was “weeping” water.  The exploration ended when I opened the crawl space door to see and hear what could only be described as a rushing waterfall.

Crap!  No one had been home in over a week.  I tried to remember if the weather ever hit freezing and hoped it hadn’t leaked the entire time, but it turned out not to matter.

Now remind you this house doesn’t have cast-iron pipes like those used for water from the WWII era.  It doesn’t even have copper piping which has been around for decades.   It’s a newer home which has what is called PEX plumbing.  And if you are like most of us non-plumbers, then there is a good chance you don’t know what I’m talking about.

PEX is a cross-linked polyethylene pipe.  Essentially a PLASTIC pipe.  After going through several processes, the material becomes durable for extreme temperatures (hot or cold), creep deformation which happens from long-term exposure to stress, and chemical attack from acids, alkalies and the like. All of this makes PEX what builders think of as an excellent piping substance for hot and cold water systems, especially since PEX is flexible and well adapted for temperatures below freezing all the way up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

I’ll spare you the suspense… it turned out not to be a broken pipe, but the result of a wall board installer who during initial construction shot a nail at an angle into a 2×4 stud.  The nail which did its job stopped, but not until about a half-inch of it went into the PEX pipe.  I’m told that a nail will typically seal itself in flexible pipe… for a while at least.  In this case the water pipe was the HOT water line to the 2nd floor and after a few years the nail rusted away leaving a small hole which then sprayed hot water and wrecked most of the first floor.

As a result I spent all of January and some of February in hotels while repairs and re-construction were taking place.

It wasn’t fun!  Unfortunately I store some of the Harley accessories in the crawl space and they were were damaged and needed replacement.  My home insurance is Farmers and they have been great to work with so a major shout-out to that company.  Looking back I feel rather fortunate with the exception of the hassle factor which wasn’t trivial.

How about you.  Ever been involved in a plumbing leak caused by a nail or sheetrock screw?  It seems to happen more and more these days.

Photos taken by author.

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