July 8, 2014

PLUMBING LEAKS

Following are the responses from SB homeowners willing to share their plumbing leak repair and preventive experiences with other SB residents. For those of us who have not (yet?) experienced any plumbing problems, this information should be very helpful. Our sincere thanks to each of you for the time and effort you expended in providing us this valuable information! If and when I receive any further reports from SB homeowners, I will be sure to add them to this fine collection.

 

From Al & Lisa Guison, 5748 Spinnaker Bay Dr. Plan 3

Our slab leak started in our garage concrete floor.  One day I started noticing a small pool of water close to the garage door.  The first day I ignored it, thinking it must have rained and leaked from the outside to the inside.  Then the next day, the pool of water was still there.  The following day, the pool was there but much larger.  And then it just became worst after that.

What happens is our water copper pipes are buried under the concrete slab foundation of our homes. As time goes by, the pipes erode and develop leaks.  Water comes out underground and once the ground becomes saturated and the water has nowhere to go, the water makes its way up and through the cracks in the concrete.  The leaks on our house started in the garage so the water came out there, but on some homes the leaks can start anywhere, e.g., the living room, kitchen,bathroom, etc.  The pipes can also corrode and spring a leak above the slab or in the walls, which is what happened to some homes in Spinnaker Bay.

Unfortunately, this problem cannot be ignored.  If your leak is under the slab, give it enough time and the ground below your house will wash away and you can have stability problems and your slab will leak and then crack and your home may settle in an undesirable way.  If the leak is above the slab, it will flood your home.

We immediately called California Coast Repiping Inc.  The contractor’s name is Hugo Garcia (&14) 296-8271.  This guy is good and was referred by several other homeowners in Spinnaker Bay.  They finished the repipe in one day and then after city inspection completed the patching the 2nd day.

We want to thank the following Spinnaker Bay residents who helped us out with the research and shared their experiences:  Bob McCabe, Roger and Patty Civalleri, Sterling Clayton, Chris Conway, and Ed and Molly Ficarri.  These folks were very helpful.

 

From Bob McCabe     351 Whites Landing   Plan 4

 Hank – Thanks for keeping up on the website – very informative.

Thought this might be helpful to some of the homeowners regarding the plumbing of their homes.

After reading the stories that have plagued some homeowners with the plumbing leaks, I decided to re-plumb my house prior to moving in. Several residents went out of their way to provide me with some very helpful guidance – Thanks Mike!

I had previous experience with a re pipe plumber so I called them. CAL REPIPE (714)476-2354. Ed was the estimator.

They had 7 plumbers replumb the house in one long day. All new copper from the meter throughout the entire house with one small exception.

The kitchen island (plan 4) has the plumbing in the slab. There are 3 manifolds located behind the refrigerator. One of them serves the island. The pipes for the water are 1/2″. Hugo (the foreman) was able to snake 3/8″ Pex through the existing copper and feed the island. The new copper supply transitions from copper to Pex behind the fridge and from Pex to copper under the sink in the island cabinet. Typical kitchen sink supply line from the angle stop to the faucet is 3/8″ so it’s like having a very long supply line. Plenty of pressure.

They came back and patched and textured all the holes. They disappeared with paint.

All new pipes, no need to rip up the slab and a new hot water heater circulation pump with a built in timer and a regulator to adjust the incoming pressure of the water down to 75psi vs the 85 psi when we tested it.

Under $10K complete for plumbing and patching – Pretty cheap for the quality job and most importantly the peace of mind!

 

From Roger Civalleri, 350 Long Point,    Plan 4

Hello Hank:  In regards to our plumbing leaks, I will recap the situation so far.  We purchased our home about two and a half years ago and the previous (original) owner indicated that there had been no plumbing issues since the house was built.  About two weeks ago we returned from a trip on a Saturday night and found that two of our rooms that had carpeting were flooded, as well as water in our kitchen which is tiled.  Fortunately (if I can use that word), it appeared that the leak was very fresh as there were no smells or mildew and the water appeared clean.  I immediately turned the water off at the main valve and that stopped the leaking.  With the help of my son I was able to get the carpeting removed on Sunday and allowed the rooms to dry.  The plumbers arrived on Monday and determined that there was a leak in the cold water pipe under the dining room but that the water surfaced in other spots due to the path of least resistance.  They could not bore into the cement to repair the leak because our house employs the post and tension anchoring system that is somehow integrated into the slab.  To avoid the anchors they would have had to scan the slab to locate the the anchors and that would have added a substantial amount of time and fee.  Meanwhile, the under slab pipe could have leaked again in the future if it was just patched.  Hence, I elected to re-route the plumbing through the ceiling above ground, thus avoiding the under slab section.  They had to cut several holes in the dry wall to accomplish that.  Unfortunately, after the plumbing was re-routed above ground and tested, we then realized that another section of the pipe under a different part of the slab was leaking as well.  This added another day to the process but they patched that as well.  As of now I think there is only one other under-slab pipeline which I will have to address in the future.  Meanwhile, I have a dry wall contractor repairing and painting the dry wall holes today and tomorrow.  The carpet that was removed was in great shape and fairly new so we went ahead and re-installed and cleaned it since it matched the rest of the house’s carpeting.

Lessons:

1.  State Farm insurance does not cover plumbing leaks or plumbing repairs.  They only cover damage caused by the result of the leak.  We have a high deductible so there was no monetary benefit to making a claim for the damage repair as it was lower than the deductible.  My agent said it is better not to record a claim if it is not financially beneficial.  Check your policy.

2.  Surprisingly, the cost of damage repair was relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of plumbing repair.  A big part of this was that the carpet was still in good shape.

 3.  FYI: It is my understanding that only cold water pipes were routed under the slab.

4.  Dennis and Lea Gerber recently had a similar problem and they referred a great plumber to me that I was very satisfied with (Scott English Plumbing, 714-998-9022)

5.  The plumbing was expensive but I was able to take care of some other issues that I had been thinking about including recirculating hot water for the bathroom and kitchen so that we could have hot water on demand.  FYI this did not require re-plumbing a return line because it somehow returns in the cold water line.  It appears to work well.  It employs a timer so that it is only on when we anticipate that we will need it for efficiency.

6.  Check your main shut off valve to make sure that it truly shuts off.  The best valve is a Ball valve, not the gate valve that came with the house.  Unfortunately I learned this from my neighbor after my plumbing repairs so I still have the gate valve although it did work.  I would have had the plumber replace it when he was here had I known this in advance.

7.  I did not address the vertical plumbing that is in the walls and I am concerned about that.  I am exploring the alternatives including epoxy-pipe lining to head off any problems that could arise in the future.

8.  Think about the electronics (computers, etc.) and furniture that are sitting on the carpet in case you do get flooded.  Plan ahead so that the expenses don’t escalate.  We were lucky with no damage in that regard.  Some of the furniture had metal caps on the legs which started to rust.  It can easily be prevented with some forethought.   

 9.  In regards to the dry wall contractor’s performance, I will update this after that repair is completed. Roger

 From Brian Maginnis, 342 Empire Landing     Plan 1

We anticipated the problem and decided to go with PVC (pec plumbing).  We were all set to go with E-Pipe at a cost of $7,300 and decided to re-pipe as part of our remodel, the cost of this including all the plaster repairs was $8,000, yet included all the fancy fixtures Miss Vicky and I had to have.  I would recommend to everyone that re-models to re-pipe as part of the process.  The insurance company will pay for the immediate repair along with the water damage, yet this does not fix the problem only the leak, less the deductible.  At my stage of life, I do not want to come home to water damage, it was going to happen sooner or later, I wanted to control my ‘fun meter’ and didn’t want to deal with the stress. Brian

 From Sterling Clayton, 354 Empire Landing   Plan 3

In response to your inquiry on leaks here goes:  My leak occurred a couple of years ago.  It was a break in the cement but it appeared to be located in the cement in the garage very close to the wall dividing the garage from the interior of the house. The total cost of repairs was around $9,000.  My memory is that my homeowners insurance paid about 80% of the total cost.  I elected to have the problem solved by re-routing the cold water pipes from source to the interior.  We used copper tubing.  It has worked OK to date. The plumber I used is called The Plumbing Angler (Mike Hagmaier).  Telephone 562-434-0570.  I would use him again.  Sterling Clayton, 354 Empire Landing, Sterling

 

From Judy Gardner, 5812 Spinnaker Bay Drive

In anticipation of what might happen, we went with E Pipe.  We did not want to endure water eruption.

Both Stephen and I were exceedingly pleased with their professionalism and the results. Although expensive …close to $8,000… we no longer worry. At this stage of life the cost is worth it. Judy Gardner

 

From Gail Rosetti, 339 Empire Landing  Plan 1

Hi Hank. Yes Mike and I had a slab leak last year. We live in a plan one so our leak was in our laundry room almost at the front door. I heard water running but nothing was on. I called our plumber and he called a specialist to determine the location of the leak. 

Our plumber rerouted with copper piping up to the wall. Capped off the plumbing that was in the slab. We also put a shut off handle at our front hose so when we travel all water is shut down to the house. 

Our plumber mentioned we are on landfill (I don’t agree with your plumber as we are not on a landfill. Hank), so we have movement more than homes not on landfill. Not to mention we have rollers on each corner of our slab for earthquake protection. 

 

We have AAA insurance and it’s not covered for slab leaks. They only cover the damage it makes. Total cost for us was four thousand dollars. Gail Rosetti.

 

From Susan Rivard, 5684 Spinnaker Bay Drive,       Plan 3

I seem to be responding to a lot of your stuff.  Our home was flooded due to the hot water pipe leaking on the first floor in March of 2005.  We have a Plan 3 home at 5684 Spinnaker Bay Drive.  I noticed the wooden kitchen floor seem sticky.  At first we though the refrigerator had a leak, but soon found out that a pipe in the wall between the kitchen and alcove off of the entryway was the source of the leak.  Within 24 hours half of our walls had been hacked away, fans were everywhere downstairs airing out the place to prevent mold, etc.  A mess! 

 

The plumbing company we hired told us that the builders (Fieldstone) had only put in the narrowest of pipes allowed by law.  We chose to re-pipe in copper throughout the house (with a larger diameter).  The insurance company did pay for painting, patch plastering, new wooden floors downstairs, etc.  Our kitchen had been re-modeled a few years earlier, and that company had to come out and put in new toe-kicks, etc.    It still cost us quite a bit of “out-of pocket” money.   

 

We were aware that two other houses near us had had the same type of problem a few years earlier, but those owners have moved elsewhere since that happened. Susan Rivard 

 

 

From Ahmad Khalifa, 5540 Spinnaker Bay Drive,    Plan 1

Hi Hank.  Two months ago, I had my flower bed in front of my home flooded with water.  I thought it was the sprinkler system.  I called HOA and they checked it but I was told it is a leak.  I called a plumber who told me it was a leak below the concrete slab of the house and they shut the water supply.  It was horrible experience.  The plumber quoted me with re-piping the whole house with copper pipes.  There are two types of pipes, one last 15 and the other 30.  I also could place a hard water filtration or some kind of system to clean the water and this makes it last even longer.  The price I got was $15,000 for the cheap one and $4,000 for the filtration.  The higher end is 20K and 25 for the industrial type.  The process takes a week with city license and inspection.  I went with e-pipe after seeing a program on U-Tube which was aired on TV at some point.  It was cheaper with 10 years warranty.  My main decision was based on the amount of time (2 days versus one week of making many holes and repair).  My AAA home insurance only pays the damages from the water which I did not have or if they had to drill the concrete slab to fix it.  Of course this is after the deductibles are met.  I chose the easy route and went with e-pipes especially after not having water for few days.  They told me the warranty is 10 years but it might last up to 70 years.  They made 2 holes in the dry wall- one in the garage and one in the laundry wall.  Clean job, was fixed but they don’t paint. I hope I deferred the process for at least 10 years and I will deal with it later.  So far I am happy with the outcome.  Not sure how it will be in the future.  The only drawback with this method is they have to lower the water temp of the hot water so that the epoxy won’t melt.  I noticed on my shower I had to use more hot water and less cold compared to before.  The sprinkler system in the back of the house completely stopped working but they came and fix it for free.  Personally, I recommend everybody do it before they have damages.  In surgery, elective is always safer than emergency.  Ahmad Khalifa, M.D.

 

From Bill Gerhardt, 350 Whites Landing,        Plan 4

We are members of the SB Leak Club. Our leak occurred in January of 2009. Leak was located under slab near the center island in the kitchen. (Our house is a Model 4). It was repaired by running a solid plastic liner inside the copper tube from the water junction behind the refrigerator to the center island junction. The leak was in a section of 3/4 inch copper tubing which made it possible to run the solid tube (liner). If it had been 1/2 inch copper tubing, would have had to coat the tubing with a liquid sealer. Had a contract price before work started of $2800. Used a company called SOS Plumbing

 We were lucky as we caught the leak early and had very little damage to the floor. Bill Gerhardt

 

From Chris Conway, 319 Long Point,     Plan 3

Hi Hank:  We are another of those Spinnaker Bay homeowners who have had a leak problem.  Approximately five years ago we discovered a leak under the concrete slab near the entrance to our kitchen from the living room.  Apparently the leak had been going on for some time and eventually one day (over the July 4th holiday when our whole family was here – two daughters, son-in-law and one grandson)  my wife walked into the kitchen and noticed water coming up through our wood floor.  We called a plumber friend of ours who came right out with some of his helpers and looked around.  He believed the leak was coming from under the concrete slab and arranged for  a “leak detector” company to come out and find the leak,  They did the next day.  In the meantime we had contacted our homeowners insurance (State Farm) who sent an adjuster out immediately.  The adjuster arranged for a water damage company (I think it was ServPro) to come out and look over the damage.  They removed a lot of wall board around the area and set up big fans to dry out the inside of the walls.  The insurance adjuster told us that State Farm would not pay to fix the leak but they would pay to fix all damage.  In order to fix the leak and determine our insurance coverage the plumber had to jack hammer the slab where the leak was located to get at the pipe.  However, before they could do that we had to have a “radar” company come out and determine exactly where the post tensioning rods that Fieldstone used in pouring the concrete slabs rather then rebar were located.  In case anyone isn’t aware apparently all the houses constructed by Fieldstone used this method and therefore owners need to be careful in jack hammering or breaking up the concrete slabs.  We were told that if someone hit one of the post tensioning rods with a jack hammer it would come right up out of the slab and cut anything in its path in too.  Fortunately, the leak was right in the middle of a square made by the rods and so the plumbers were able to jack hammer the floor and find the leak.  The State Farm adjuster came out and look at the leak and said “you are covered for all repairs caused by the leak”.  Over the next several days the insurance company sent in a building contractor who reviewed the situation to determine the extent of the repairs necessary.  In  summary, after the leak was repaired the contractor replaced all the damaged wall board (paid for by the insurance company); discovered that they could not locate an exact match for the base board which had been destroyed and so they replaced it with all new base board (again paid for by the insurance company) over the entire downstairs area; and repainted large portions of our downstairs (paid for by State Farm).  Lastly, it was determined that the wood flooring which had been in place could not be located and therefore State Farm said to replace all of the wood flooring covering the entire downstairs area of our home.  We located new flooring, which was more expensive then what had been there, and State Farm paid approximately 85% of the total cost for the new floor.  The cost of repairing the leak itself, which we paid for, was relatively minor compared to all of the other expenses.  While I somewhat wish the incident had never happened, basically because of the inconvenience, financially we were treated very well by our insurance company.  If you want any other information, just let me know.  Chris Conway

 

From Mary Ann Mrkonic, 342 Blue Cavern Point,    Plan 1

I was not sure where to put this information in the SB web site so I am sending to you, my experience with my leak in the home.

July 2013 I had a leak in the garage. I called a plumber and realized that most plumbers do not do extensive house repairs nor do they have leak detectors.

I called Freedom plumbing who does leak detector, they felt the leak was from the water heater to the downstairs bathroom.  Leak detection $275.00

The quote to do e pipe restoration for one line was $3,125.00 which included the leak detection.  I had it done since water was leaking etc.  This took about 2 days.

They told me to do the whole house may take a month or more since the e pipe people were busy so they were not recommending I do the whole house then.  I later found out they only have the contract from e  pipe to do 1-2 lines the whole house has to be done by E Pipe.  The cost I do not remember but I believe it was about 10 to 12,000 for the whole house.

After I had the one line repaired by Freedom plumbing, I thought about it and felt hopeless waiting for the next leak, and not know when or where or what damage it would do. I decided I wanted to check out the pricing for the whole house.

My plumber  friend returned to the states from his European visit and a designer that I know suggested I look into Repipe.  This is being done almost exclusively in Europe and more and more in the US.  Bottom line is I got a quote and had the job done for about $5,500.    Yes there was wall breaking, and need for dry wall,  but Re Pipe put in all new flexible pipe throughout the house, and did the dry wall and plastering, got permits,  for the above quote and it was done in about 2-3 days.  Very clean no inconvenience at all.  I just had a painter come in for  less than $500. and had those areas touched up.

This to me is a no brainer.  I was very happy with the repair.  I only wish that I knew of re pipe at the time of the leak.  I only had short periods during the day in certain bathrooms and kitchen that did not have water.  I always had water somewhere to use while the repairs were being done.

Reasonable, fast, clean and very reliable. T 866-737-4731 CA license # 927892. REPIPE

I feel this is a reasonable way to protect your home and do it before you have the leak, so you do not get  stressed and get water shut off and have water damage. MaryAnn Mrkonic,.

 

 

From Kerri Tande,  5697 Spinnaker Bay Drive

I don’t know anything about plumbing or the issues other people have faced but when we removed our kitchen island in March/April 2014, we found our pipes to be corroded. They had not yet corroded through/leaked but it could have been a problem down the road had we not repaired it. Our plumber said that the pipes were made of soft, fine copper and were not wrapped in plastic. He corrected the problem by using type L copper and a plastic sleeve to protect it in the future.  Kerri Tande

 

From Cuyler Johnson, 334 Blue Cavern Point Plan 3
We had a leak in our slab which caused no “peripheral” problems. So we lined the entire plumbing system with Epipe, an Ace Duraflo product by Pipe Restoration, Inc., 3122 W. Alpine Street., Santa Ana, 92794. (www.RestoreMyPipes.com 800-359-6369).The cost was $8,340.00, done in December, 2012.
 
The service rendered was fine and so far has “done the job.” I negotiated a lifetime warranty from them. Their normal warranty is ten years. I can recommend their service. Their service sealed the leak as it was not too large to “plug” with the epoxy, in addition to sealing all of the rest of our pipes. They had to cut 2 or 3 holes in our walls for access, but replaced the drywall, perfect texture and all. We were responsible for painting the patches which was easy.
 
With the epoxy they used in our pipes, we must not raise our water temperature above 135 degrees F. I understand that they might have a new epoxy now that allows higher temperature of water. We have had no problems adjusting to 135 degree water. The water flow is slightly reduced with the reduced lumen of the pipes, but not really noticeable. Cuyler

 

From Robert & Paulette George,  339 Long Point      Plan 1

Our home was one of the first homes completed in Phase 1 of the original construction. Our first leak occurred approximately 8 years ago. The leak occurred in the laundry room. The first indication of a leak in the floor is a “hot floor”. Our pets laid on the floor at that location as if were a hot pad. We repaired this leak by re-routing the plumbing the above the floor level.

The second leak occurred in April of this year on the floor near the wall between the living room and kitchen. The floor was hot, the wall became damp (soft to touch), and by the time the leak was discovered water could be seen seeping across the living room, kitchen and bathroom floors. Again, the remedy was to re-route the piping above the floor (through the soffits and walls.) We incurred a third leak just a month late. This leak was detected in the garage floor, in a pipe under the water heater. Again we re-piped, but this time all of the remaining pipes in the floor. Our insurance does not recover the cost of repairs, but does cover any damage as a result of the leak (on each occasion). We used Tony from Guardian Plumbing (714 220-2600). The plumber must bring in a detection service, which Tony did. The detection service runs about $300. We brought in a new 1” main copper line to the house from the shut off valve. We used pex pipe to replace the leaking lines. Since we were re-plumbing, we added a  hot water pipe loop and a small pump, which has eliminated the lengthy time it takes to get hot water to the showers. Tony is familiar with the homes in Spinnaker Bay and related plumbing issues.

If you have a floor leak in the plumbing, I would redo all of the plumbing in the floor the first time. The copper used by Fieldstone appears to be the wrong type of copper to be used in cement, leading to the defects in the pipe. It appears inevitable that all of the Fieldstone homes will have this problem.