Copper & Cast Iron Pipe Leaks

This page is intended to update you on the problems that the Third# and United Mutuals# are facing. Since the two Mutuals have been addressed separately by PCM (unfortunately) the following comments are related to each Mutual. The problem of In-Wall Water Leaks has been around for at least 5 years but the 2004 Boards of Directors were the first ones to address the problem. Part of the reason for the late start by the Boards was the lack of justification of the size of the problem earlier. Copper Pipe Leaks is the primary problem in Third Mutual and the combination of Copper Pipe and Cast Iron Drain line leaks affects United Mutual.

One resident's experience! Howard & Carol Mayling

Third Mutual:

The In-Wall Water Leak study that was done in 2005 by an outside consultant ended up with the following principle conclusions:

  1. In-Wall Water Leaks are a result of the Copper Pipes (Good News).
  2. The walls of the pipe are not being eroded. Wall thickness is the same as a new pipe (Good News).
  3. Most of the leaks that were analyzed were are termed "Pin Hole Leaks." Principle cause is from and excess of FLUX in the pipe joint at the time the pipe was soldered during construction.
  4. The greatest failure rate was in the 3 story Garden Villa Buildings.
  5. Problem can be remediated by resolving the Copper Pipe failures (Good News).

A sample program is currently underway to correct this problem in several 3 story buildings using the "Epoxy Coating" method of remediation. At the conclusion of this test program, further action will be studied and plans will be made based on these results.

United Mutual:

A current study by an outside consultant is underway with the final results to be completed by Oct-Nov 2006 time frame. Initial results of this study are:

  1. In-Wall Leaks are evenly split between Copper Pipes and Cast Iron Drain Lines (Bad News).
  2. The walls of the pipe are not being eroded. Wall thickness is the same as a new pipe (Good News).
  3. Most of the leaks that were analyzed were are termed "Pin Hole Leaks." Principle cause is from and excess of FLUX in the pipe joint at the time the pipe was soldered during construction
  4. Don't yet know if any particular style manors are affected more than others for the two failure modes.
  5. There is no comparison of failure rate between the Third Mutual and United Mutual failure rates. This shoul be done by PCM Staff but has not been done at this time (Bad News). Cursory analysis shows a higher Copper Pipe Leak in Third than United (Good News, for United).

The conclusions of the consultants are not in line with many other Copper Pipe Leaks which find a deterioration of the entire pipe, resulting in reducing the pipe wall thickness to the point where it begins to have Pin Hole Leaks. Under this type of failure, 100% of the pipe is exposed to the ultimate leak possibility and a repair of all Copper Pipes is in order, since all of the Copper Pipe is erroding.

The finding by the consultant that the wall is not erroding but that the Pin Hole Leaks only occur where there was an excess of FLUX (a finite number of joints) at the time of construction presents a potentially different failure situation. In this case, only the joints where there was excessive FLUX will ever have a leak. Only through tracking of the failures can we tell if the majority of "potential failure joints" have already failed or if we are still heading for that point in time. It is critical that PCM determine this before we make any long range plans in United Mutual. The decision could reflect a difference of $10's of millions of dollars.

For example, let's assume that only 50% of our joints are potential failures. Remediating all the pipe would cost about $30m (assuming $4000 per manor). We would have spent $15m on pipe that would never have failed.

What if only 25% of our joints are potential failures. We would spend $22m on pipe that would never have failed.

This is compounded in United Mutual since there is a secondary failure mode of Cast Iron Drain lines which has a totally different remediation than the Copper Pipe and makes the plans for remediation twice as complex.

These are the types of decisions that future Boards will have to make.

 

|Home Page|Instructions|Site Map|Agendas|Issues|Documents|Blog|