Plumbing Expert Opines on Negligent Piping Installation Leading to Leaks

    Plumbing Expert WitnessThis case involves a newly-built home that began to experience chronic plumbing issues shortly after it was purchased. The home, part of a larger housing development, was sold several months after construction was completed to a first-time home buyer. A few weeks after the homeowner moved in, a series of pinhole leaks in the home’s copper piping had begun to develop, causing water damage at various locations throughout the house. Over time, multiple pipes burst completely, resulting in extensive damage to the house and forcing the owners to vacate the premises. It was alleged that the original plumbing was installed negligently.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please describe your experience with plumbing pipes.

    Expert Witness Response E-160843

    I have been a plumbing engineer for the past 4 and a half years and one of my main job duties is to properly size the water pipe system for residential homes and buildings. I also review other engineer’s and contractor’s drawings to verify that the water pipe system is compliant with the plumbing code. I have a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Thermo-Fluid Systems. I have also worked for a plumbing contractor for one year installing copper pipe in residential homes. Copper pipe leaks can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as high-velocity flow through the pipe, high levels of chlorine in the water supply, high water pressure or due to other chemicals or particles in the water. Plumbing code limits the maximum velocity in copper pipe to 8 ft/sec for cold water and 5 ft/sec for hot water. The diameter of the copper pipe must be properly sized so that the water flowing thru the pipe does not exceed the code limits. If the pipes are not properly sized, the high-velocity flow rates will increase the likelihood of pinhole leaks. Pin hole leaks can still occur in properly sized and installed copper pipe systems due to the chemicals, water hardness or high pH levels in the water.

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