Plastic Piping Leak Causes & Symptoms
Cause, cure, prevention of plastic pipe leaks in water supply or drain piping
PLASTIC PIPE LEAK CAUSES - CONTENTS: causes of leaks in plastic piping systems, both supply and drain. Causes of well or municipal water service piping leak.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe properties, installation, leaks & failures. Characteristics of a leak in the pipe between well or municipal water supply & the building. Effects of well or municipal water service piping leaks, diagnosis, effects, remedy. DEFECTIVE PVC PolyVinyl Chloride PIPING LAWSUIT, leaks, explosions, whistleblower; JM Eagle. Kitek® PLASTIC PIPE LEAKS, CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT, PlumbPex® PEX PIPE LEAKS, CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
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Leaks in plastic water supply or drain piping:
This article series describes the causes of damaged or leaky buried plastic water pipe & resulting poor water pressure, poor water flow, or water leaks in water piping between a well or municipal water service main & the building. We include links to in-depth reports of pipe leaks occuring at various types & brands of plastic water supply piping & building drain piping and we provide a catalog of the most frequent causes of damaged or leaky plastic piping at buildings.
Knowing just what kind of leak is occurring in a building helps pinpoint the problem and also helps specify the necessary plumbing repair. The articles at this website will answer most questions about diagnosing and repairing pumps, wells, water supply systems, and building piping.
Driving over piping that is not properly bedded in sand or not buried at a safe depth can cause leaks or crimps in piping. Even if the buried water pipe is not leaking, if it has been crimped or crushed water pressure and flow into the building will be reduced.
Freezing pipe damage: while plastic pipes can tolerate limited freezing better than some metal pipes, neverthelsess a water supply or drain pipe that remins water-filled and exposed to freezing can crack or burst.
See WATER PIPE FREEZE-UP POINTS
See FREEZE-PROOF PIPES for advice on preventing freeze damage to supply or drain piping
Gluing errors: Improper gluing procedures when assembling plastic supply or drain piping. Failure to properly prepare the pipe, mis-application of primer and glue, or failure to respect both gluing procedures and set and cure times specified by the pipe cement manufacturer, failure to allow for high or low temperatures during pipe assembly and gluing, failure to allow for high humidity during plastic pipe installation and gluing all cause significant risks of a future pipe leak or failiure.
See PVC & CPVC PIPE INSTALLATION STEPS
see PVC & CPVC PIPE GLUING SET & CURE TIMES
Plastic connector leaks in plastic piping occur if the stainless steel (or equivalent) clamp is insufficiently tightened or is not properly positioned when making the connection between plastic connectors and ABS well piping or equivalent piping; other damage can occur if the clamp is over-tightened on over-heated ABS tubing and less often if the connector itself is cracked or damaged.
Plastic well (or water main) piping damage during installation: What caused the well piping leak that we describe above? My soil is 18"-24" black topsoil, then sandy, silty clay soil.
No rocks or sharp objects were found. We were careful digging around the line. We checked about 10 foot of line, but only found leaks near the fitting at the casing.
After removing the leaking section, I cleaned it up for further investigation. It appears to me the pinholes were a result of careless installation work. The pipe exterior surface had cuts and nicks where the pinholes were. What people may not know is that HDPE pipe needs to be slightly heated to fit over the fitting.
If it's overheated it could change the integrity of the pipe. The previous installer may have overheated and nicked the pipe with the clamps or a screwdriver. Maybe they didn't know the pipe needed heat and used brute force with pliers or channel locks to slip it over the fitting.
Overheating plastic piping during joint fitting can chemically change the plastic, making it brittle and crack prone near the connector
Over tightening metal connector parts such as hose clamps can (rarely) crack or crimp a pipe or fittings as cited earlier.
Under heating plastic piping during joint fitting can cause the pipe to crack when it is forced over a fitting or connector
Under-tightening metal connector parts such as hose clamps often leads to immediate or near-term leaks in the well piping connector. That was the problem that caused the leak in our photograph just above.
CONTACT us to suggest other leak causes in plastic well piping
Inspect your plastic pipings connections carefully with the well piping under full pressure before burying the water piping.
JM Eagle produces roughly 60 percent of plastic water piping sold in the U.S. and also distributes its products in Canada and Mexico and describes itself as
JM Eagle is the leading manufacturer of PVC and PE plastic pipe.... JM Eagle recently announced a 50-year warranty on its products*. Plastic-pipe products from JM Eagle will maintain their performance for the next 50 years or the company will replace them.
Early in 2010 New York Times reported that John Hendrix has accused PVC piping manufacturer JM Eagle of falsifying PVC pipe quality testing results, covering up the discovery that pipes that should last 50 years are failing as early as in one year, risking costly leaks and dangerous explosions.
In a review of news reports through March 2015, the failure rate and extent of failure of JM Eagle's PVC piping raised some troubling questions about the actual extent of and occurrence of damage.
Kitec PEX plastic piping was / is a composite tubing produced by IPEX and consisting of an aluminium tubing laminated between two layers of polyethylene or PEX of various comositions described by several U.S. Patents cited below.
Kitex® tubing was sold in Canada and the United States (and possibly other countries) for a wide range of applications including pressurized potable water piping and heating water piping for radiant heat floor systems.
Meacham's figure above, edited for clarity by InspectApedia, shows a cross-section of the three concentric sections of Kitec tubing. Flexible outer and inner layers 62 and 64 in the illustration are made of resilient and flexible non-metallic portions coating the extgerior and interior of a thin-walled flexible metallic pipe-66.
The Kitec piping system included both the flexible tubing collection of brass plumbing fittings & connectors intended for use with PEX type plastic piping. Kitec, also in some sources spelled Kyetec is a brand of brass plumbing fitting that was recalled in 2005 by its manufacturer, IPEX, due to its tendency to quickly corrode.
Plumb-PEX Plumbing System Class Action Settlement - PEX piping leaks
In March 2012 the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota court-ordered homeowner notification program was scheduled to begin.
People who own or previously owned a building where Plumb-PEX plumbing components were installed are notified of a proposed class action settlement involving Radiant Technology, Inc. and Uponor, Inc who sold Plumb-PEX insert fittings and stainless steel PEX tubing clamps.
Those components may have leaked, or may leak, causing building damage. The defendants denied all claims of the lawsuit but have agreed to settle the case. 
Plumb-PEX Settlement Details
RTI Plumb-PEX Plumbing System fittings and components including
ASTM Standard F1807 brass insert fittings
Stainless steel clamps used with the installation of these components
Installed on or after 15 May 1999
Where a leak in the system [using those components] occurred or
Where water flow differential of 50% is found between hot and cold water supply lines feeding one or more fixtures
People or "entities" whose structure has already suffered a qualifying leak and have already paid for repairs
Plumb-PEX Settlement Provisions
The settlement reimburses for property damage caused by a qualifying leak in the Plumb-PEX installation, and it provides for possible repair or replacement of the RTI Plumb-PEX installation in structures suffering two or more "qualifying" leaks.
Plumb-Pex Class Action Settlement Deadline
Watch out: If you are eligible for a claim under the Plumb-PEX settlement, you must file your claim within 18 months of the notification date of 22 March 2012
Leaks in Municipal Water Service Piping
In 2015 JM Eagle, a large plastic pipe producer posted this remark on the company's Facebook page:
Cold weather dramatically increases the chance of a break as pipes expand and contract with temperature changes. On average, 400 to 500 water main breaks occur each year in [Washington D.C.] - JM Eagle on Facebook, retrieved 22 March 2015, original source: https://www.facebook.com/JMEaglePipe
Photo at left: the report cited above at Facebook.
Plastic water service piping may be polybutylene (PB), polyethylene (PE), cross-linked
and Tubing Tubing Tubing Tubing Tubing Tubing Tubing polyethylene (PEX), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC). Most plastic piping is buried at least 18 inches deep. [In freezing climates water piping is buried below the frost line, a depth that can exceed 8 feet in some areas.] Exposed piping may be subject to mechanical damage and deterioration from sunlight.
Since the supply line from the street cannot be seen, no comment is offered during a home inspection. If there is a leak, it may go undetected for some time. In some cases, water can be heard running outside the basement wall. Water accumulating in the basement or a wet spot on the lawn is often the first indication. Leaks may be caused by building settlement, excavation, poor connections, faulty valves or a flaw in the pipe itself.
The underground water service line from the property line to the house is owned by the
homeowner. Beyond the property line, the pipe is the responsibility of the city. A leak in
the pipe requires excavation, and it is often difficult to know whether the leak is on the city’s or the homeowner’s side.
The city is usually contacted and they excavate their section of the pipe, correcting the problem if they discover it. If no problem is found, the homeowner is left to correct the problem on his or her own. In some cases, the homeowner must pay for the city’s work if the city pipe is not at fault. Some municipalities use sophisticated leak detection equipment.
While the comments below originally described the cause of a leak in plastic well piping, the same conditions can cause a leak in buried municipal water supply piping between the building and the street. As Carson Dunlop's Home Reference Book points out,
Poor water pressure in the house may be the result of a partially closed or obstructed valve in the street. It may also be because of blockage, such as a stone or other foreign body in
New piping may be crimped during installation or become pinched under a rock during back-filling operations. This can also cause low water pressure.
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"New Electric Heat Tapes Help Prevent Fires," US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) #00936
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
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"Freezeproof Your House," Mike McClintock, Rodale's New Shelter, p. 30, October 1985 (approximate date)
"How to Winterize Your Pipes," Mike McClintock, Homeowners How-To Magazine, p. 59-62, Nov-Dec 1979.
"PVC pipe extruder JM Eagle hit with whistleblower lawsuit", Plastics News, 11 Feb 2010, web search 11/19/2010, original source: http://plasticsnews.com/headlines2.html?id=17829
"A Trail of Broken Pipes, In Lawsuit, Fired Worker Cites Defective Plastic", Mary williams Walsh, The New York Times, 12 Feb 2010, pp. B1, B5
"Facing Suit, Pipe Maker Extends Guarantee", Mary Williams Walsh, The The New York Times, 5 April 2010.
"JM Eagle PVC Pipe Lawsuit Information", law suit and class action information sponsored by law firm of audet & Partners, LLP. - web search 11/19/2010, original source: http://jm-eagle-lawsuit.com/jm-eagle-pvc-pipe-lawsuit/tag/lawsuit/
JM Eagle Corporation, Global Headquarters, 5200 West Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90045, Phone: (800) 621-4404 Quoting JM Eagle is the complete manufacturer of PVC and PE plastic pipe. With greater strength, capacity and geographic reach than ever before, our resources provide an unmatched capability for new products, new materials, new applications and new processes. We consistently produce the highest quality plastic pipe in the industry and are committed to ensuring ongoing product excellence.
JM Eagle 50-Year warranty - web search 11/19/2010, original source: http://www.jmeagle.com/warranty/ Quoting from that source: April 5, 2010, Dear Valued Customer:
At JM Eagle, we have always stood behind the quality of our plastic pipe as our commitment to serving you. Now we are taking that commitment a step further with the introduction of our 50-year warranty on the design of our innovative engineered thermal plastic-pipe products.* This means you can trust JM Eagle pipe to maintain its performance for the next 50 years or we will replace it.** No other manufacturer makes this claim.
The warranty covers issues associated with new verifiable manufacturing defects on pipe. The warranty also covers plastic-pipe products sold and installed since JM Manufacturing’s inception, manufactured by JM Eagle or JMM. It does not cover products made by other manufacturers acquired by JM Eagle at later date or products manufactured by PW Eagle prior to the 2007 merger.
Plastic pipe is the safe, long-lasting and stable solution for a modern infrastructure. Millions of miles of plastic pipe have been installed throughout the country. It outlasts any other material. It complies to strict industry standards that confirm its strength, durability and longevity. And it keeps the water flowing without bursts, flooding or disruptions.
Plastic pipe from JM Eagle is of the highest quality. It has always met—and will continue to meet—the standards of the American Water Works Association, and it has always been—and will continue to be—certified by NSF International and Underwriters Laboratories.
We are excited to bring this warranty to you, for the betterment of your business and the industry as a whole. We hope that you will continue to choose plastic pipe, and choose it from the only plastic-pipe manufacturer that stands behind its quality with a 50-year warranty, JM Eagle.
Information on this Web site tells you more about our warranty, our products and our commitment to serving you with quality plastic pipe. We hope you find it helpful as we continue our long and fruitful partnership.
Vice President of Marketing, JM Eagle
* Plastic pipe certified to AWWA for water distribution and transmission and force sewer mains.
** See warranty for full details
 Kitec Plumbing System Settlement Website, web search 08/05/2011, original source: www.kitecsettlement.com.
Thanks to reader Dan Babb for discussing well piping leaks, July 2010
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