Florida’s population has been booming for over half a century. As a result, in the early 1970’s, homes or commercial properties were being built en mass and, as such, cheap materials we being used. More specifically, in homes built in Florida in the mid-70s or earlier, cast iron plumbing systems were primarily being installed in Florida homes and have proven over time to be faulty.
Why do copper pipes or cast iron pipes fail? Cast iron pipes corrode and deteriorate causing plumbing system failures in older Florida homes. Copper pipe deterioration typically leads to water damage, mold, blocked plumbing drains, leaking or “seeping” sewage, bugs and pests infiltrating your home, as well as health risks for copper-pipe building occupants. Said differently, while cast iron pipe failure or copper pipe failure may cause property damage, it can also cause a much broader array of damages, both to persons and non-obvious property.
Damages from Copper Pipe Leaks
Additionally, the effects of such property damages can last over the course of time. And if you, the policy holder, do not notify your insurance carrier of the leak and properly remedy the problem, any future water damage could be excluded under your policy for failure to both notify the carrier and take appropriate steps to remedy the problem and mitigate future loss. As such, identification, communication and problems solving around cast iron pipe leaks is critical!
Typical Responses to Copper Pipe Claims
Many times, however, your insurance company will deny coverage for copper pipe claims, asserting either that the damage is the result of normal “wear and tear” or “deterioration” of the pipes over time, thereby denying your copper pipe claim. Another well cited reason to deny a copper pipe claims is the policy’s “water damage” [LINK TO IDC.com Water Damage sub-page] exclusion. Alternatively (and less likely) your insurance company might pick-up and accept your copper pipe insurance claim, but do so only by providing a low settlement offer. Either position is problematic for you, the homeowner, facing serious problems from failed copper pipes in you home that, if not properly addressed, could keep causing problems to your home.
Have you suffered property damage from cast iron plumbing in your home? LeavenLaw’s attorneys can help you with your claim.
LeavenLaw’s consumer advocates fight for Florida policy-holders to maximize their recovery for damages caused to their home or business by failed copper pipe plumbing. Systems. To that end, LeavenLaw fights against insurance companies who deny copper pipe claims in bad faith, breaching its obligations under the insurance policy’s terms, obligations and provisions. LeavenLaw’s policy-holder attorneys will also discuss and assist you, the homeowner, on how to secure funding to replace or repair his or her cast iron pipes.
Cast iron was prevalently used for piping in Florida homes until approximately 1975, at which time PVC thereafter became the material of choice for plumbing systems in Florida homes. Research has shown that, under ideal conditions, cast iron pipes have an average life expectancy of roughly between 50-75 years. In conditions that are less than ideal, however, cast iron pipes may last for a much shorter period of time, typically between 25-50 years. By way of comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that, on average, the age of a broken water main (that also uses copper piping) is 47 years. Logically, homes 50 years old or older that also used copper pipes for their plumbing systems also are likely nearing their point of failure.
So what is the scope of this potential copper-pipe problem? Consider that in the United States, an estimated 76 million homes have cast iron pipe plumbing systems that must likely be replaced in the near future. From these numbers, Florida-specific estimates show that over 2 million homes likely have this cast-iron pipe problem.
What Causes Cast Iron Pipe Failure?
Pipes break. Pipes wear down. And pipes break down for many reasons. The most common cause of cast iron pipe deterioration is corrosion. What causes corrosion? Typically, corrosion is caused by acids continual contact with such pipes. Further, salt and moisture-rich environments—conditions present throughout the state of Florida—can exacerbate and accelerate such pipe corrosion. As such, it is common to see copper pipe failure in Florida within 25 years or less from when such copper-piping plumbing systems were installed. So, if your home was built prior to 1975 and had copper piping and you see signs or symptoms of leaking plumbing (see immediately below), you could have failed copper pipes or cast iron pipes in your home.
What are Signs of Pipe Failure?
How do you know if you have failed copper or cast iron pipes in your home? I mean, they are covered up! Good question. The following are signs that copper pipes in your home’s plumbing system may have failed:
- Water backups
- Slow draining sinks and tubs
- Sewage leaking
- Foul smells
- Bug infestation
- Water damage
- Water stains on floor, baseboards or walls
Homeowners will sometimes suffer a covered loss from failing, old cast iron pipes and are unaware of the leaks and corresponding damage to your home. Importantly, however, if the cause for an otherwise covered loss originated off your property, your case against your insurance company is not crystal clear. If your home was built before 1975 and was built with cast iron pipes, they could fail and cause a covered loss under your policy. If you see unexplained water leaks or stains in your floors or walls, you could have leaking copper pipes. The most critical actions you need to immediately undertake if you see signs of such water damage in your home is to (1) notify your insurance company, and (2) call LeavenLaw’s insurance dispute lawyers today.
Have your Copper Pipe case Reviewed for Free
Historically, insurance companies will deny and/or underpay homeowner insurance claims for water damage, especially if such water damage allegedly comes from failing copper pipes. Your insurer might say that “plumbing losses are not covered” or that it “will not cover losses caused by regular wear and tear of cast iron pipes.” If your insurance company makes either of thes initial statements, realize that the answer to your coverage question will be in the terms of your policy and frequently will be, at least in part, a covered claim if in fact your home’s water damage is caused by a deteriorating copper pipe.
If you’re insurance company has denied your cast iron pipe or has offered a low-ball settlement offer to replace your cast iron plumbing system, or perhaps if you are preparing to file a claim over your copper pipe damage, contact LeavenLaw’s insurance dispute attorneys to discuss next steps. If LeavenLaw is retained for representation for your copper pipe claim, we will immediately arrange a video scope of your plumbing system to evaluate its condition and the location of the leak. We will then assist you in applying the terms of your policy to the facts at hand, coming up with a recommendation and ultimately a demand for your insurance company to perform.
But the Insurance Company Has Already Denied My Copper Pipe Claim
In the end, realize that insurance claim denials are often written by the insurance company in a way that makes them appear that the decision is “clear-cut” and already made, and that nothing else can be done. You are essentially made to believe you have one option: take the offer and nothing else. But an insurance company “No” should not the end of your inquiry; instead it is where you start.
If you are a homeowner in Florida and think you have a failing copper pipe system, the insurance dispute attorneys can help walk you through your policy and claim process, providing you counsel along the way and trying to maximize your recovery. Call today! Statewide and toll free: (866) 514-0556. #insurancehunter