Building Management Hawaii August/September - (Page 24)

When Good Pipes Go Bad A neglected plumbing system is a ticking time bomb By Eric Lecky Plumbing A s buildings age, building components need to be replaced-some more regularly than others. The best property managers know what these components are, and they plan for (and, more importantly, communicate regarding) their replacement well in advance so building owners can budget and be prepared. Unfortunately, many building components are hidden and therefore easily overlooked. To make matters worse, some managers and owners operate under the false assumption that certain parts of a building are meant to last the lifetime of the building. This is simply not the case, especially with plumbing. Whether defective or age-related, plumbing issues can be some of the worst a property can experience, given the nature of flooding leaks and their total potential damage to a building's structure and the property of residents. Other interior wall systems (i.e., electrical wiring or HVAC ducts) tend to have longer lifespans than plumbing, and they fail less often and less spectacularly. It's one thing to have your lights not turn on when you flick the switch- but having water flowing all over your furniture represents a totally different level of urgency and crisis. As such, it's critical that building owners and property managers inspect their pipes regularly. Obviously a small leak or drain stoppage is the first warning sign, but as leaks or stoppages begin to occur regularly, it's a good indication that there is a more systemic problem. While repiping a building is not inexpensive, it can be far less costly and impactful than you might think. And it certainly beats the alternatives of losing insurance coverage or severe property damage as a result of a major flood. 24 August-September 2014 BMH and is highly dependent on local water chemistry and climate. In some regions, copper pipes can last a century or more, while in others they start to show pitting and pinhole leaks within 10 years or less. The same is true for plastics. While many of today's modern materials have excellent warranties, many of the older products, like polybutylene, have failed or been replaced under class-action lawsuits. Knowing what's in your building, when it was installed and how well it's aging are critical points in evaluating the length of time you may have before needing to repair or replace your pipes. Documenting Potential Risks Severely corroded pipe Determining Your Pipe System Most buildings have several different piping systems that should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure they're in proper working condition and not showing any dangerous signs of aging. In addition to the water supply piping that brings clean, potable water into the building, as well as the corresponding waste lines that take used water (and waste) out of the building, there are closed loop systems (i.e., HVAC piping) as well as other systems such as fire sprinklers. Some buildings even employ custom systems such as rooftop water heating pipes for heating pools in warmer climates. These systems are frequently comprised of one or more different types of pipe, which range from metals such as copper, steel and cast iron to a variety of plastics. The lifespan of each material varies considerably Log your leaks before any significant problems occur. Sudden changes in water pressure, discolored water or small leaks are early indicators of potentially more pressing issues. While a small pinhole fixed with a piece of foam and clamp may seem like a five-minute fix, it is almost always an indication of a larger problem. Repeated fixes like this mean that a more significant leak is right around the corner. Visible signs of corrosion-such as changes in water color, oxidization of metal pipes or a metallic taste- are equally important indicators. Track all complaints about the water and your leak/stoppage history in a journal and inspect any visible pipes on a regular basis. One rule of thumb is that if pipes you can see look bad, they probably also look bad behind closed walls. If water related complaints, leaks and other problems become more frequent, it's time for a professional inspection. Take a proactive approach. If too many insurance claims are filed for plumbing leaks, your insurance company might send its own inspector. At that point, it may be too late to avoid losing coverage. www.buildingmanagementhawaii.com http://www.buildingmanagementhawaii.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Building Management Hawaii August/September

Roofing Warranties: Read Them
Heeding Pacific Cyclone Warnings
Eco-friendly Metal Roofing
Cool Roofing Technology
When Good Pipes Go Bad
Why Cast Iron Pipes Fail
Is Your Sewer Squeaky Clean?
Water Heaters Versus Boilers
Preventing Backflow
Safeguarding Your Building’s Water
Safeguarding Your Building’s Water
Why Regular HVAC Inspections Matter
Why Regular HVAC Inspections Matter
Industry News
Industry News
On Site: A Well-Run Association
On Site: A Well-Run Association

Building Management Hawaii August/September

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