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Subject: Preventative Plumbing Maintenance
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DeniseA1
(California)

Posts:11


11/09/2017 6:08 PM  
Three members of our board recently decided to conduct preventative plumbing maintenance at HOA expense unbeknownst to the members. Recently, an emergency pinhole leak (and there are MANY throughout our community of 118 units!) was repaired at one unit. The homeowner requested that both hot and cold copper lines be replaced with PEX through the openings. Is this our association's responsibility to replace and pay for the new re-piping? I thought not, but was informed by other Board members that "this is part of the preventive maintenance discussed & agreed to from the "special board meeting" awhile ago. Plus this has been done on several units to avoid further problems." I am on the Board and was not present at that meeting. "They decided to let the vendor evaluate the situation and, if they thought it was prudent and preventative to replace both hot and cold pipes, we would trust their evaluation and move forward." Is this our financial responsibilty or not? Thanks!
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:1986


11/09/2017 6:34 PM  
We don't have your documents or the invoices, so we can't say yea or nay. We aren't attorneys anyway, so prepare to sit down with your own attorney to see what your options are.

Before you get to that point (and you probably will), start with reviewing the CCRs to see what it says about plumbing (as a board member you should already know who's responsible for plumbing anyway). If you don't know ANYTHING about plumbing problems at this unit or the "other" units, you should request an executive session to hash all this out. What exactly is the problem, where are the invoices related to the problems, who talked to the plumber - and if things were decided at a "special board meeting," why weren't you invited or told about any of this?

This looks a lot like you vs. your colleagues, so if they stonewall you, you may have no other choice but to expose all this to the rest of the community, as the homeowners ultimately decide who's on the board and should know what's going on and why. Unfortunately, sorting all this out might not happen overnight and it may get very ugly, so be prepared to go it alone (which may or may not mean you'll have to resign so you'll have the freedom to say what you need to). Good luck to you
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3642


11/09/2017 7:12 PM  
Are you a Condo (which sounds like from your comment)? Potentially then the Association would most likely (depending on your governing documents) be responsible for all piping between the walls. Generally in a Condo the Owner is responsible for the "inside" of their unit and the Association is responsible for between the walls and exterior.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:150


11/10/2017 3:50 AM  
Sheila, why are you suggesting an executive session for this discussion? It does not seem to me a discussion about the plumbing, repairs, and preventative maintenance fits the criteria for an executive session.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:1986


11/10/2017 5:15 AM  
Normally it wouldn't and shouldn't, but the poster implies that decisions about all this were made at a meeting (or meetings) she wasn't aware of. If the meeting was scheduled and she simply didn't attend, she may have to accept there was a proper quorum and the decision was made appropriately. If they're going behind her back, perhaps because they knew she'd object, that's another story. That may mean some sort of board member discipline, which is usually best addressed in executive session.

Then again...maybe she should call everyone out in public and see what happens - that can also get heated to the point no one gets to the bottom of the story, which is really what you want. She might want to make sure that meeting's well attended before dropping this bomb - it's one thing for the rest of the board to ignore her, but if they start stammering in public, everyone will become suspicious and then let the games begin.
DeniseA1
(California)

Posts:11


11/10/2017 6:40 AM  
You all missed the point. First, I was aware of the meeting, but couldn't attend. Second, all I'm asking is if replacement plumbing (both hot and cold copper lines replaced with PEX) is the financial responsibility of the HOA. I AM aware that anything within the walls is our responsibility, but I always assumed that was for emergency repairs (leaks, cracked pipes, etc.). Again, my question: Is additional non-emergency plumbing work the HOA financial responsibility or that of the townhome owner?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6788


11/10/2017 6:59 AM  
It depends. Does the majority of owners want this change to be made? Do they want to have PEX versus Copper? If so, then yes the HOA can agree to pay for this change. It just has to happen to ALL owners to change not just one owner's unit. The HOA money is EVERY MEMBER's money.

Now if this was a situation of bad construction where nails punctured the pipes, then the HOA may pay for the change/replacement if the developer is no longer in the picture. I would consider certain construction issues to be a HOA responsibility. (Like roofs, foundations, or construction failures after builder gone). However, depending on the situation, running PEX throughout the whole building because of one owner may be a bit much. I would get a 2nd opinion or even 3rd from a plumber. Copper piping is still the "gold standard" of plumbing for a long time. The PEX is most likely a better retrofitting option which saves time and money. Otherwise replacing copper is a very expensive and invasive process. Which may be why the decision made to go with PeX.

Former HOA President
PaininyourA
(South Carolina)

Posts:119


11/10/2017 7:11 AM  
..... Copper piping is still the "gold standard" of plumbing for a long time. .....



HOWEVER


copper 'likes' alkaline water 6.5-7.0 pH

some copper was imported and of inferior / uneven wall thickness

many installations are 'undersized' resulting in too high velocity which 'wire draws' the walls


Copper requires a 'gold standard' for installation AND suitable 'water chemistry' AND type 'L' as a 'good practice' (not merely 'thinwall' code compliant type 'M')



When pinholes (plural) begin they are likely to never stop forming.

There is a point at which repiping as much as you can becomes prudent especially when the wall is already open.

eg. a pinhole in the kitchen ceiling - open 'er up and repipe the ceiling


retired master plumber from NYC
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6788


11/10/2017 7:20 AM  
Should have said "Was" gold standard. It's not without it's issues. My house was built it was galvanized piping was the "gold standard". It's all has to be replaced eventually. Just expensive. I would do it with PEX when I do. A lot less invasive and better product for retrofitting. I've used it before in other construction projects. Really like it.

Former HOA President
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:307


11/10/2017 7:44 AM  
Posted By DeniseA1 on 11/10/2017 6:40 AM
You all missed the point. First, I was aware of the meeting, but couldn't attend. Second, all I'm asking is if replacement plumbing (both hot and cold copper lines replaced with PEX) is the financial responsibility of the HOA. I AM aware that anything within the walls is our responsibility, but I always assumed that was for emergency repairs (leaks, cracked pipes, etc.). Again, my question: Is additional non-emergency plumbing work the HOA financial responsibility or that of the townhome owner?





Your governing documents probably state that the association as a whole owns the piping, wiring etc, so fixing the pinhole leaks now will save you in headaches
down the road. So YES you and the rest of the BOD have a duty to fix this. This sounds like a repair that an individual owner is not responsible for

PEX is much easier to replace and less invasive. PEX only involves small fist sized holes to replace copper lines, replacing copper lines requires a 1'x 8'opening in the drywall.
That is an expense that you don't want.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:4381


11/10/2017 8:19 AM  
So, Denise, we're a 16 y.o. high rise coco of 200+ units in 2 25 story buildings. . The HOA is responsible for all plumbing that lead into our units, i.e., are in the common areas. We started having pinholes a few years ago and in '16 had maybe 5. Damage, of course, occurred in walls & on some floors in units & in the common areas.

So, first, read your docs to see if your HOA is responsible for this plumbing. If so, the Board certainly can make decisions about repairs/replacement. How old is your HOA? How many pinholes have you had so far this year? What do the minutes of the meeting you missed say about the decision to replace all the hot & cold copper piping? Is this piping by any chance on your reserves study? (Ours isn't.)

When we directors are absent, we basically give up our rights to shape board decisions. What does your property mgr. have to say about this project. Denise?

Btw, a few months ago, our Board heard presentations and chose a vendor that basically coated the hot & cold copper piping and we have a monthly contract with them to maintain this system. We have references from a couple of other high rises near us. Luckily, our own building engineer is a master boilermaker, so he's been crucial to this project.
AugustinD


Posts:603


11/10/2017 8:31 AM  
Posted By DeniseA1 on 11/10/2017 6:40 AM
You all missed the point. First, I was aware of the meeting, but couldn't attend. Second, all I'm asking is if replacement plumbing (both hot and cold copper lines replaced with PEX) is the financial responsibility of the HOA. I AM aware that anything within the walls is our responsibility, but I always assumed that was for emergency repairs (leaks, cracked pipes, etc.). Again, my question: Is additional non-emergency plumbing work the HOA financial responsibility or that of the townhome owner?


By any chance is the current piping polybutylene? If so, it is notorious for failing spontaneously and causing significant property damage. Google on the subject. I have experience with this in a neighborhood of stand-alone homes built in the 1990s. Folks were having spontaneous failures of the piping so often that the neighborhood was well known to local plumbers. If I were on the board, I would first check with the HOA attorney. I think it is likely the attorney would advise commencing a plan of replacing it all, at the expense of the HOA, before further leaks begin; damage to owners' property results in claims against the condo; and so on.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:307


11/10/2017 10:41 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 11/10/2017 8:31 AM
Posted By DeniseA1 on 11/10/2017 6:40 AM
You all missed the point. First, I was aware of the meeting, but couldn't attend. Second, all I'm asking is if replacement plumbing (both hot and cold copper lines replaced with PEX) is the financial responsibility of the HOA. I AM aware that anything within the walls is our responsibility, but I always assumed that was for emergency repairs (leaks, cracked pipes, etc.). Again, my question: Is additional non-emergency plumbing work the HOA financial responsibility or that of the townhome owner?


By any chance is the current piping polybutylene? If so, it is notorious for failing spontaneously and causing significant property damage. Google on the subject. I have experience with this in a neighborhood of stand-alone homes built in the 1990s. Folks were having spontaneous failures of the piping so often that the neighborhood was well known to local plumbers. If I were on the board, I would first check with the HOA attorney. I think it is likely the attorney would advise commencing a plan of replacing it all, at the expense of the HOA, before further leaks begin; damage to owners' property results in claims against the condo; and so on.




Is that in the same family of Kitec plumbing fittings?
AugustinD


Posts:603


11/10/2017 11:26 AM  
Posted By LetA on 11/10/2017 10:41 AM
Posted By AugustinD on 11/10/2017 8:31 AM
Posted By DeniseA1 on 11/10/2017 6:40 AM
You all missed the point. First, I was aware of the meeting, but couldn't attend. Second, all I'm asking is if replacement plumbing (both hot and cold copper lines replaced with PEX) is the financial responsibility of the HOA. I AM aware that anything within the walls is our responsibility, but I always assumed that was for emergency repairs (leaks, cracked pipes, etc.). Again, my question: Is additional non-emergency plumbing work the HOA financial responsibility or that of the townhome owner?


By any chance is the current piping polybutylene? If so, it is notorious for failing spontaneously and causing significant property damage. Google on the subject. I have experience with this in a neighborhood of stand-alone homes built in the 1990s. Folks were having spontaneous failures of the piping so often that the neighborhood was well known to local plumbers. If I were on the board, I would first check with the HOA attorney. I think it is likely the attorney would advise commencing a plan of replacing it all, at the expense of the HOA, before further leaks begin; damage to owners' property results in claims against the condo; and so on.




Is that in the same family of Kitec plumbing fittings?


I think Kitec is different from polybutylene. E.g. see https://www.carsondunlop.com/home-inspection-services/the-story-of-kitec-plumbing/
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:4381


11/10/2017 2:44 PM  
I'm confused. Denise wrote copper piping, so how could it be something else?

In my reply above, I should have made it clear that our copper piping was coated on the inside and we pay $500/mo to have this maintained. I don't remember the details, but it was maybe $3,000 upfront to do the work.
DouglasM6
(Arizona)

Posts:438


11/10/2017 2:58 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 11/10/2017 2:44 PM
I'm confused. Denise wrote copper piping, so how could it be something else?

In my reply above, I should have made it clear that our copper piping was coated on the inside and we pay $500/mo to have this maintained. I don't remember the details, but it was maybe $3,000 upfront to do the work.




What "maintenance" is required of the coated copper pipe? Not trying to derail the thread, I just always thought it was a one and done thing.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:4381


11/10/2017 5:14 PM  
I'll find the contract--I simply cannot remember, Douglas. It is something that would be a lot cheaper than replacing all copper piping!
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3642


11/10/2017 9:45 PM  
Posted By DeniseA1 on 11/10/2017 6:40 AM
You all missed the point. First, I was aware of the meeting, but couldn't attend. Second, all I'm asking is if replacement plumbing (both hot and cold copper lines replaced with PEX) is the financial responsibility of the HOA. I AM aware that anything within the walls is our responsibility, but I always assumed that was for emergency repairs (leaks, cracked pipes, etc.). Again, my question: Is additional non-emergency plumbing work the HOA financial responsibility or that of the townhome owner?


YES ... If your documents as you have noted it is HOA responsibility ... the HOA is responsible to maintain and improve common area property even if it is non-emergency. Another example would be the HOA has a reserve fund to replace the roofs every 25-30 years depending on supposed shingle life span. So with your question or scenario you would suggest they would not be responsible for properly replacing roofs in a timely manner to avoid property damage and should wait until it became an emergency and already leaking??? You are potentially facing the same issue with your plumbing.
DeniseA1
(California)

Posts:11


11/11/2017 6:37 AM  
Thank you, Janet. Your answer makes sense and is extremely helpful...I consider my question answered!!!
PaininyourA
(South Carolina)

Posts:119


11/13/2017 7:14 AM  
What Causes Copper Pipe to Leak?
(pipe failure)

Contrary to popular belief copper water piping doesn't last forever. In its original design criteria, copper piping was projected to last for 20-25 years, but failure can often occur in as little as two years due to water chemistry.

Changes in water chemistry, unrelated to water quality, have caused the water to become aggressive towards the copper piping.

Copper is the most widely used material for plumbing systems because of its ease of use, resistance to corrosion, and resistance to permeation by liquids and gases, which may be sources of corrosion and contamination.

Copper piping has been used for domestic water supply for over 50 years. Since 1963, over 5.3 million miles of copper plumbing tube has been installed in about 80 percent of all U.S. buildings.

Hot or warm spots in the floor, soaked carpeting, ceilings or walls and abnormally high water bills are signs of failing copper pipes.

Pinhole Leaks
The State of Maryland Task Force to Study Pinhole Leaks in Copper Plumbing defines a copper pinhole leak as "the perforation of copper tube, pipe or fittings used for domestic water distribution as the result of pitting corrosion initiated on the interior/waterside surface with the subsequent leakage of water."

Internal pitting corrosion of copper pipes is a rare but costly problem that leads to the formation of pinhole leaks. Although the factors that cause this problem are mostly unknown, it is well recognized that the chemistry of the water traveling through the pipes can influence the formation and propagation of pits.

A pinhole leak is a final breakthrough event of the progressive attack of pitting corrosion on copper water plumbing. A copper water plumbing system can be in a condition of having significant damage by pitting corrosion, but not have pinhole leaks. The challenge is how to discover pitting corrosion before pinhole leaks develop.

Although pinhole leaks could happen in any copper pipe or tube within a house, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) reported that the majority of pinhole leaks that their customers had reported were in cold-water, horizontal copper piping. Most of the leaks were in older homes, and 80 percent of the reports involved homes built prior to 1970.


There is no comprehensive source of information on the occurrence of pinhole leaks. Many utilities and water authorities have collected thousands of reports, submitted voluntarily by residents who have experienced pinhole leaks. Often, homeowners consider pinhole leaks as a plumbing problem, and do not report them to their water utility.

Copper (Pitting) Corrosion
There are many forms of corrosion, but pitting corrosion is most likely to culminate in pinhole leaks in copper plumbing.

Pitting corrosion is the non-uniform localized attack of the wall of copper tube, pipe, or fittings initiated on the inside surface of copper water pipes. Usually only small areas of the metal surface are attacked.

Pitting corrosion can be classified into three types:


Type I
cause: Hard Water
Type I pitting is associated with hard or moderately hard waters with a pH between 7 and 7.8, and it is most likely to occur in cold water. The pitting is deep and narrow, and results in pipe failure.

Type II
cause: Soft Water
Type II pitting occurs only in certain soft waters, with a pH below 7.2 and occurs rarely in temperatures below 140° F. The pitting that occurs is narrower than in Type I, but still results in pipe failure.

Type III
cause: Cold, Soft Water High PH
Type III pitting occurs in cold soft waters having a pH above 8.0. It is a more generalized form of pitting, which tends to be wide and shallow and results in blue water, byproduct releases, or pipe blockage.


Water Velocity
When copper tubing is installed that is too small in diameter for the pressure and flow available, the resulting high flow rates can erode the protective coating creating areas of bare, unprotected copper. This effect can result in a high rate of corrosion wherever the protective coating is eroded.


The greatest effect of velocity occurs where the water is forced to change flow direction, such as at elbows and tees, but excessive water flow rates can be damaging to the entire plumbing system.

Repair Options
Currently, homeowners have several options from which to choose. However, none of the options address the root cause of the problem; they simply try to correct the symptoms. Most of the options are also costly. These options include:
•Fixing the leak by application of external solder

•Replacing a small or larger section of tube

•Re-plumbing the entire house
(However, even a complete re-plumb with new copper tubing does not guarantee that the problem will not recur after a period of time.)

•Re-plumbing and replacing copper with PVC or CPVC

•Coat the inside of existing pipes with epoxy

•Purchasing potential cures (of questionable value), such as magnets
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:4381


11/15/2017 6:17 PM  
So, Pain & Douglas, I finally found the basic approach to the system our HOA purchased. It's a system that injects a food-grade phosphate into the water system, which then coats the entire copper piping covering any areas of corrosion. The system is installed on the incoming main that services both of our twin towers. I now see an installation cost of about $3,000. The monthly service on this system is $500.

Our Board and finance comm. met about this a few times including a presentation by two vendors. As sometimes happens, directors, finance committee members and then Owners obsessed almost in mass hysteria fashion about the water quality, which is when I lost interest and which probably explains why I don't remember the details of this Board action.

As I wrote above, we have reference letters from two nearby older high rises. Their pinholes stopped upon getting this system. We have two 25 story towers plus several street-level townhomes and commercial suites on a full city block. Our 200+ condo units all have 2 full bathrooms and maybe 20 have an extra 1/2 bath. I can't even guess at how much lineal feet of copper piping we must have.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:1631


11/15/2017 6:38 PM  
Posted By PaininyourA on 11/13/2017 7:14 AM
Repair Options...


What about snaking PEX through the existing, leaking copper pipes? I guess the available diameters compared to the existing copper pipe diameter would be a factor. And any elbows would be hard to navigate.

Just spitballing. We have about 8 homes built ca 1990 that have had leaks in copper pipes that are in the concrete foundation slabs. Talk about a pain in the A. Jackhammering to find the leak was tried in one home and I'm not sure of the outcome. In others, additional piping was installed, some of it through a conduit built on the exterior of the home that takes the water up into the ceiling/attic space where it then branches off and heads down to the bathrooms from above. It's unsightly and also a messy project, but not as expensive as the jackhammer route. I guess I'm asking if there are any palatable solutions for in-slab repair.

Good stuff, Pain. Meter at 0%
PaininyourA
(South Carolina)

Posts:119


11/16/2017 6:04 AM  
no way - no how


radius of bends - diameter / volume - velocity - need to open walls anyway - etc
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