CAST IRON PIPE DAMAGE
Cast iron pipes were used during the construction of homes throughout the last century. It was only until relatively recently, in the 1980s, when builders stopped using cast iron pipes during the construction of homes. Even though cast iron pipes are no longer used in construction, nearly 40% of all Florida homes have cast iron pipes. The problem with cast iron pipes is that they are susceptible to corrosion and leaking. The life span of cast iron pipes is even less in Florida compared to other parts of the county due to the weather conditions.
When these cast iron pipes leak, they can cause extensive damage. These pipes are behind walls and under the slab foundation where you do not see them. Unfortunately, like most things in life, when they are out of sight, they are out of mind. These pipes only get thought of when it is too late, and they are already leaking. Once they have leaked, the damage has already begun.
If you find yourself in this position, you are not alone, and we can help. The cost to repair and replace cast iron pipes can be enormous, not even considering the additional water damage from the leaks that they may have caused. We regularly help people that find themselves in these unfortunate predicaments.
WHY WERE CAST IRON PIPES USED?
Cast iron pipes were used due to their lengthy life spans, their ability to withstand heavy loads and high pressure, and their ability to deaden the sound of water flow. At the time cast iron pipes were used during construction, the life expectancy of the pipes was 50 to 75 years. These pipes were also used because plastic pipes had yet to be invented.
However, cast iron pipes tend to deteriorate over time, especially in Florida, where you have aggressive conditions for deterioration of the cast iron including the heat, humidity, and salt corrosion from the ocean. Due to these aggressive conditions, cast iron pipes only last 25 to 50 years and, sometimes, not even this minimum length.
The other issue with cast iron pipes is that they are not flexible. Any movement, such as growth of tree roots, can cause these pipes to crack.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOUR CAST IRON PIPES NEED TO BE REPLACED?
There are a few dead giveaways that cast iron pipes need to be replaced. These can include:
- Bad smells (sewer gases)
- When a cast iron pipe system deteriorates, the pipes corrode and develop holes. When a sewage pipe has holes in it, the sewage that’s in it leaks into the concrete slab. Concrete is porous and absorbs this smelly wastewater and, in essence, becomes a septic tank holding this foul smell.
- Warped or separated wood floors
- Tiles popping up or water stained grout
- Water stained or discolored carpet
- Pest infestation (rodents and roaches)
- Slow or clogged drains
- Bubbles in the toilet
If you are unsure, a skilled plumber can examine the cast iron pipes in your residence and determine if they need to be replaced.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE CAST IRON PIPES, BUT THEY ARE NOT LEAKING YET? DO THE CAST IRON PIPES NEED TO BE REPLACED?
Just because you have not seen water damage as a result of leaking from cast iron pipes does not mean that they are not leaking. Cast iron pipes are under your concrete slab and behind your walls. Leaks can start as small as a pinhole before they gradually become bigger. Pinhole leaks may go on for some time before they are noticed, usually once the leak has become larger, creating noticeable water damage. This is especially true for leaks under your concrete slab foundation. Again, just because you do not see water damage, it does not mean your cast iron pipes are not failing.
There are other signs that your cast iron pipes are failing and need to be replaced. Brown residue coming from sinks can is a sign the cast iron pipes are deteriorating and failing, as it is a sign of rust. These are pipes that need to be replaced.
An experienced plumber can come and inspect the cast iron pipes in your home to see if they are failing and need to be replaced. Plumbers have specialized equipment that can check your cast iron pipes, including inspection cameras. They also have equipment that can measure the moisture of your floors and walls. This can be crucial in detecting leaks that you cannot see. If you have cast iron pipes, there is a good chance they are already deteriorating and need to be replaced. We regularly work with experts that can examine and determine the condition of the cast iron pipes in your home.
WHAT IF YOUR HOUSE WAS BUILT PRIOR TO 1975, BUT IT WAS REMODELED, DO YOU HAVE CAST IRON PIPES?
Probably, but it depends. Even if your house has been gutted down to the studs and remodeled, it probably still has cast iron pipes. Even when houses are remodeled, the plumbing under the concrete slab of the house is generally not replaced because it is an additional expense and extremely time consuming. As such, the original plumbing is generally left in place during remodels. The only way to tell for certain whether your house has cast iron pipes is to have an expert come in and scope them. A video of the scope will quickly show whether you have cast iron pipes and the condition of them.
WILL YOUR INSURANCE COVER DAMAGE FROM LEAKS FROM YOUR CAST IRON PIPES?
They should. However, the damages from deteriorating cast iron pipes can be astronomical. First, it can be difficult to determine where exactly the leak from the cast iron pipes is coming from. This is especially true if the leak is coming from under the concrete slab of the house. Furthermore, the water damage can quickly lead to mold and other problems. Due to the expensive repairs, your insurance company will often try to deny the claim or parts of claim.
When your insurance denies your claim, whether it is be in part or whole, is when cast iron pipe property damage lawyers like us come into play. We immediately will gather your homeowner’s insurance policy documents and file a lawsuit. The sooner we file a lawsuit, the sooner we will be able to hold the insurance company accountable by forcing them to honor and payout your claim.
WILL YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE REPLACEMENT OF YOUR CAST IRON PIPES?
As discussed above, your insurance company should be held responsible for the repair of your failing cast iron pipes. This includes the other damages caused by the failing cast iron pipes. Keep in mind that just because you do not see the damage, it does not mean that it does not exist. For example, if the pipes are leaking in the concrete slab, there may be mold in the slab that needs to be taken out and refilled. The insurance company should be responsible for paying for the repair for the damage. One of the only things that an insurance company will not pay for is the cost of the PVC replacement pipes. The cost of PVC pipes is minimal compared to the cost of locating and getting to the cast iron pipes in the home.
You will also be responsible for paying your deductible, according your homeowner’s insurance policy. The deductible is relatively inexpensive compared to the to amount of the costs to repair the cast iron pipe cases. We can help you decipher the complex language used by insurance companies in your homeowner’s policy.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO REPLACE THE CAST IRON PIPES IN YOUR HOUSE?
There are a few factors that can affect the price. First, the size of the house—the larger house, the more expensive the cost. When cast iron pipes deteriorate, they are replaced with PVC pipes, which are lighter and last longer than cast iron. The cost of fitting a home with PVC is relatively inexpensive as is generally costs between $1.00-$2.00 per foot. The expensive part of replacing a cast iron plumbing system is the cost to gain access to the cast iron pipes.
Cast iron pipes are located beneath the concrete slab in homes and behind the walls in bathrooms and in kitchens. To gain access to the cast iron pipes below the concrete slab, the floors have to be trenched. This requires the entire floor to be torn up and replaced. To gain access to the cast iron pipes in kitchens and bathrooms, cabinets and vanities have to be torn out and replaced. This can equate to a remodeling of a kitchen and bathroom. As most people know, the costs for remodeling kitchens and bathrooms quickly add up and are expensive.
Another financial factor to consider in replacing cast iron pipes is the cost to live in another location while the pipes are being replaced. When the pipes are being replaced, the house is rendered unlivable, as there is no working plumbing system. The longer the repairs take, the greater the cost for other living arrangements.
Lastly, in certain cases, there are expenses related to moving and storing furniture in order to gain access to repair the pipes.
All of these expenses can be sizable and can leave you in financial ruins. However, it is a necessity to have safe and reliable plumbing in your house. This makes it imperative to force your homeowner’s insurance to cover the costs related to repairing and replacing your cast iron pipes.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE A CAST IRON PIPE DAMAGE LAWYER?
Nothing out of your pocket. We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing unless we win your case. In cast iron pipe cases, we can plead for attorney fees. This means that we file a lawsuit against the insurance company, and if we prevail, we can force the insurance company to pay for the attorney fees. This allows more money to be paid to the client for their claim.
HOW LONG WILL A CAST IRON PIPE CASE LAST?
Unfortunately, nothing in the justice system is fast, and these cases can take months to resolve. We try to move these cases as fast as possible so that you can pay for the repairs to your residence. Furthermore, as discussed above, we have the financial incentive to push these cases forward as fast as possible. We do not get paid unless you get paid.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF A CAST IRON PIPE CASE?
After we gather all of the necessary paperwork from your homeowner’s insurance policy, we file a lawsuit as quickly as possible for a breach of contract claim. In essence, we are stating that you had a insurance policy that you paid for, you filed a claim, and the insurance company breached the contract by not paying the claim. We file the lawsuit, and we also file requests for discovery immediately, including scheduling the deposition of a representative of the insurance company. We engage in discovery quickly so that the case progresses as quickly as possible. The faster the case progresses, the sooner you will be paid.
Cast iron pipe cases are unique cases. Insurance companies have numerous tricks to save money and shirk their responsibilities. A property damage lawyer with experience handling cast iron pipe cases has seen these tricks of the trade. The cost to repair cast iron pipes can be exorbitant. The money insurance companies try to save from the repair of cast iron pipes can financially cripple you if you must pay that amount.
Don’t risk this financial hardship. Call Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh at (561) 295-5825 for a consultation. We are experienced property damage attorneys that have a niche practice handing cast iron pipe damages cases.