Insurance companies are making it harder for clients to receive compensation for pipe-related claims.
If your house was built before 1975, there is a good chance you need to replace your pipes. An estimated 76 million older homes in the U.S. have failing cast iron pipes. Though these pipes usually have a lifespan of 50 to 75 years, in some environments they can start breaking down as early as 25 to 40 years after installation.
Damaged pipes can cause a host of issues, including damage to your home and the environment.
Making this problem even more of a nightmare, insurance companies are making it harder and harder for clients to receive compensation for pipe-related claims. Florida residents are taking legal action against their insurance companies to claim the money they are entitled to.
About Cast Iron Pipes
Cast iron was largely used for pipes until the 1980’s. It was the preferred pipe material throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and was even used as far back as the 17th century at the Palace of Versailles.
Cast iron is an alloy of iron, containing other elements like carbon and silicon. While it can be more brittle than pure iron, it is extremely durable and can withstand high amounts of pressure.
The downside of cast iron pipes is that they are susceptible to corrosion (rust), which causes 25% of pipe failures. Depending on the environment, corrosion can damage pipes in as little as 25 to 40 years.
Today, plumbers typically use plastic PVC. This material can last up to 100 years.
Pipe Corrosion Causes Premature Collapse
Moisture-rich environments like Florida are especially vulnerable to premature corrosion.
Cast iron pipe corrosion can happen internally or externally.
External corrosion is caused by exposure to toxins and high levels of acidity in the soil caused by hydrogen sulfide, salt, and other acids. Moisture-rich environments like Florida are especially vulnerable to premature corrosion.
Internal corrosion is more common. Waste running through the pipes can build up hydrogen sulfide gas, which, when oxidized, creates sulfuric acid—the most common cause of cast iron corrosion. In an EPA survey of 89 cities, 32 reported sewer collapses were from hydrogen sulfide corrosion.
Corrosion is a gradual process that causes thinning of the pipe’s inner and outer layers, ultimately weakening the structural integrity of the pipe. Eventually, internal pressure will become too great for the pipe to support, resulting in cracked pipes, leaks, and even ruptures.
What to Look for
Since pipes are out of sight, damage is often only spotted when it is too late. Though leaks occur underneath the foundation, there are some signs to look out for above ground that will indicate plumbing trouble below:
- Warped or separated wood floors
- Tinted (raised) floor tiles
- Broken or loose floor tiles
- Water-stained floor tiles (grout)
- Water-stained or discolored carpet
- Water-stained or discolored floor rug or mat
- Clogs / backups and slow drains
- Foul smells from sewer gases (including hydrogen sulfide and methane)*
- Pest infestation (rodents and roaches)
*Hydrogen sulfide is detectable by a “rotten egg” smell. However, humans quickly become desensitized to it. Just because it appears to dissipate, it doesn’t mean the gas is no longer there.
Why Cast Iron Pipes Should be Replaced
Upon noticing signs of damage, it’s important to immediately repair or replace them. Damaged pipes will only continue to damage your home flooring and cause drainage headaches.
What’s more, damaged cast iron pipes can cause homes to fail property inspections and suffer from a decrease in value.
Cracked pipes can also wreak havoc on the environment by leaking raw sewage into groundwater, ultimately contaminating local water suppliers. Each month, more than 216 million gallons of sewage is leaked into Florida’s aquifer alone.
Pipe Repair Costs Thousands
Replacing cast iron pipes can be an expensive project that can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000. The amount of piping that needs to be replaced and whether or not walls and floors have to be cut through to access them will affect the final price.
Water damage can result in additional costs, upwards of $10,000 to $30,000 for severe cases. If you notice water damage in your home, it’s important to minimize damage as much as possible by shutting off the main water valve, removing excess water and objects prone to damage, and sanitizing the area.
Contact your insurance company immediately to see if you have a claim. These claims are often time sensitive and require that you file within 72 hours of noticing damage. Depending on the extent and type of damage, you may also need to contact plumbers and/or cleanup specialists.
ClassAction.com Can Help You File a Claim
Insurance companies do not like footing the bill for cast iron pipe and water damage repair. They will often deny claims, delay payment, and provide low settlements. However, policyholders with legal representation typically receive payments that are three times higher than those without.
Florida residents that meet the following criteria may qualify for a lawsuit: your house was built before 1975 and you have water damage but have yet to file a claim, or if you have filed a claim but were denied coverage or received a low settlement.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review. There are never any costs unless we win a jury award or settlement. Even then, your insurance company could be responsible for paying the legal fees for both parties.