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Hello out there. We have been experiencing an extremely high volume of calls for water pipe leaks throughout South Carolina and parts of North Carolina in the last year. This has also generated a ton of questions about what is causing these problems to come on so rapidly as of late. Here’s the scoop on where most of these problems are coming from, and what you can do about it.

First, what we are talking about here is a specific type of leak found in the water pipe itself, so we aren’t talking about your standard faucet or shower-head type of leaks. The leaks we are talking about here can happen anywhere in the home that has plumbing to it, and because it is on the pipe itself, it’s usually not in a location that allows you to even see the problem before it is too late and has started to cause damage to a wall, floor or ceiling.

The Cause

So, what is causing this unusual outbreak of leaks specifically in our area of the country? Well, unfortunately it is coming from a type of pipe that was manufactured in the early to mid 2000s (mostly from 2001 to 2004) called “Durapex” that has since been shown to have a major defect in it. Without getting too technical, the defect has to do the with chemical compound of the pipe material that is extremely prone to a type of “oxidization” that causes the pipe to corrode or break down. This oxidization is made worse by sun exposure. Obviously your plumbing pipes don’t get any sun exposure in your home, however the problem took place years ago when those pipes sat outside in the yards of supply houses and distribution facilities for months before being installed.

As the pipe breaks down, pin-hole size leaks start to form, sending water down your walls and ceilings from the inside out. By the time you see the brown or gray discoloration on your walls, it’s too late and you are left with potentially thousands of dollars worth of damage. We see this problem usually begin close to your water heater where the pressure is usually a bit higher, however what we have found is that once you see a problem start there, it is only a matter of time before it begins to spring up in other places throughout the home.

What can be done?

What can be done about it? Well, if you aren’t sure if you have this type of pipe or not, here’s what you can do.

  1. Verify the year that your home was built. If it was built prior to 2000 or after 2008, then you are probably in the safe zone.
  2. If it was built during those years, see if you can find a spot in your home to take a look at the pipe. A crawl space or attic may have exposed pipe that you can view. Look for the words “Durapex” and/or a stamp on the pipe that says “CPI” (this is the original manufacturer, Consolidated Plumbing Industries).
  3. If you aren’t able to view it, or aren’t comfortable checking it out yourself, call a plumbing professional to have it looked at. We are glad to come out and take a look at it for you at no charge (you can call our office at 803-740-1241).

What to do if you have this type of pipe in your home?

Unfortunately, there is no magic cure…..the reality is that you need to get all of that pipe out of your home if you want full confidence that you won’t come home some day to a massive water mess and the damage that comes with it. The good news is that this isn’t as intrusive and expensive as people think it might be!

When you think about changing out all of your pipes, often people envision tearing out all the walls in their home and spending tens of thousands of dollars that they just haven’t budgeted for (and honestly, who budgets for replacing water pipes anyway). If you contract a company with experience in this matter, they can pinpoint exactly where all of the pipes are before cutting your walls, and then just cut out small portions of the wall that they need to gain access to the pipes. If your house is on a crawl space, this makes it even less messy because all of your main floor pipes can be removed from under the home without cutting into any walls or floors.

The Cost

The big question….how much does it cost? We’ve been able to successfully replace every single pipe in many homes for less than $4,000 and never more than $6,000. Those prices do not include wall repair and paint, however if you hire that out, we have seen in range from $600 to $1,900 depending upon the extent of the repairs of course.

So while your certainly not happy with shelling out $4,000 or $5,000, it’s not nearly as bad as most people imagine it might be, and certainly A LOT LESS than repairing the damage that just one weekend of leaking water can cause. We’ve seen damages of over $100,000 on on the extreme side in water damage due to leaks, but in reality $20,000 – $30,000 is not uncommon depending upon the amount of time the leak existed before it was detected.

This article is meant to inform you, not to scare you….and the truth is if you don’t have a leak today, you’re not likely to have a leak tomorrow, so no need to panic. That being said, however, if you live in the greater Charlotte and York County areas and have a home that was built between 2000 & 2008, it wouldn’t hurt to have us come out and take a look at your pipes just to put your mind at ease.

If you’re interested or have any questions, you can click here to set something up, or call us directly anytime at 803-740-1241.

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