Could defective pipes be the cause of unexplained water leaks in your building?
Unexplained water leaks are an unfortunate fact of life for far too many high-rise communities. While your board and members may feel there is nothing to be done other than regular repairs and perhaps a prayer for good luck, the fact is that buildings constructed in Florida between the years 2003-2010 may contain defective pipes and, if your building received a Certificate of Occupancy between 2006 and 2010, you may still have a cause of action to resolve the problem once and for all.
Allied, a division of Tyco, manufactured metal vertical water risers that were joined to horizontal runs of CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride) pipe in many high-rise buildings. CPVC is a thermoplastic which is produced by chlorinating polyvinyl resin and is used most often in hot and cold water pipes. Often it is the CPVC pipes that service units off of the main risers and into units. Most frequently, these are fire sprinkler pipes.
Allied (or ABF piping) was used in buildings during the time period of 2003 through a portion of 2010. When used together, the CPVC pipe deteriorates at a more rapid pace than expected which, in turn, causes leaks. At some point, Allied became aware that there was a problem with the incompatibility between the ABF and the CPVC pipes and stopped using this combination in early 2010.
If your building was constructed between 2003-2010 and has this combination of ABF and metal piping and CPVC piping, the failure will ultimately occur even if it has not yet happened. While you do not need to be a high-rise to have this combination (it has been discovered in HOA clubhouses and low to mid-rise condominiums and cooperatives) it is much more prevalent in high-rise structures.
My law firm, Becker & Poliakoff, is investigating and pursuing these claims on behalf of our clients throughout Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.
How can you tell if you have this combination?
Often, you can confirm if you have the defective pipe combination by simply observing the pipes in locations where such observation is readily accessible. You will see the ABF or Allied markings on the pipes and should be able to see the joinder of metal pipes to plastic or CPVC piping. If not, our experts (some from MIT and others who are local engineers) can visit your community to readily determine if the problem exists in your building.
Who is responsible for this problem?
There are two classes of claims i) class action claims against the manufacturers of the pipe and ii) claims against developers and contractors. If the Board does not pursue these parties, then ultimately the Board or the members will be responsible to make repairs as the leaks surface over time.
How long do you have to address this problem?
The statute of repose, which is the longest time frame you have to resolve the issue, is ten (10) years from the completion of your building.