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raylo32 11-18-2013 05:11 AM

spontaneous crack in cpvc
At my GFs condo ground floor yesterday and all of a sudden there was a lot of activity outside including a fire truck. One of her upstairs neighbors (2nd floor front, not directly over her), had water coming into her unit. They suspected the 3rd floor unit above her leaking so the fire crew broke in. Nothing... Someone had the presence of mind to shut off the water to that part of the building before too awful much damage was done but I am told Servicemaster is coming today to assess and clean up.

Later that night a plumber arrived and found the problem... the feeder pipe in the wall before the unit's shutoff valve had just broken. What I heard 3rd hand so take with a grain of salt: a pipe clamp was skewed or misaligned and over time its edge worked into the cpvc until it broke. I wonder if settling of the structure and/or piping might have been an issue?

But the way these places are plumbed seems a little scary. There are only 2 exterior shutoffs for the 12 units, one for the left 6 units and one for the right 6 units. Then each piping branch apparently branches into front and rear vertical risers from the ground floor to the 3rd floor, with each unit's supply tapping those with the only shutoffs inside each unit's utility room. AFAIK these riser pipes are all cpvc.

This place seems like a leak waiting to happen and not a lot of good ways to stop it quickly. Not good when it is "raining" inside....

Ghostmaker 11-18-2013 06:35 PM

Cpvc is a plastic pipe so as water heats the pipe it will expand and contract. It sounds like someone possibly used a metal pipe holder. That is usually not an allowable thing in most new construction. The metal pipe strap is harder then the plastic pipe so it will erode it eventually. The other possibility is if the plumber did not allow for the expansion and contraction of the CPVC pipe it will cause undue stress and break eventually. CPVC on a hot water line can expand up to 4 inches over 100 foot. That is why good tradesmen install the stuff with proper expansion loops and make sure they do not butt it up on wood joist.

If you want to read more about it

raylo32 11-18-2013 07:51 PM

Thanks, Ghost.... interesting. This building I guess is about 17 years old and I think it was the feed line to the unit so would have been cold. Not sure about the length or orientation of the pipe run or what kind of clamp since I didn't get to see the damaged area. I don't think it was a total break off but more of a spraying leak. Still a lot of wet carpet and drywall... but apparently not a total loss and it was luckily found and shut off quickly enough to not get into the unit below.

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