The Fine Print: How Water Voids Many Plumbing Warranties
When a plumbing system fails, homeowners – and often builders and contractors – are left seeing dollar signs and wondering who is responsible for repair costs.
This is where a plumbing system manufacturer’s warranty often comes into play, and where the fine print can leave you vulnerable to footing the bill.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety reports that 65% of all plumbing system failure insurance claims are due to material failure, not freezing or installation-related issues, making the manufacturer’s plumbing system warranty extremely important.
These failures are often a result of chlorine degradation or otherwise aggressive water conditions and can occur in less than 10 years after installation.
Here, we provide an overview of various piping manufacturer warranties so you know how to protect your business — and your clients — before or in the unfortunate instance of a plumbing system failure due to water conditions.
FlowGuard Gold Has You Covered with Two-Layer Warranty Protection
FlowGuard Gold CPVC is the only plumbing system on the market today with a 30-year warranty that specifically applies regardless of the water treatment methods and is made from the only material that is 100% immune to chlorine degradation.
On top of that assurance, with a FlowGuard Gold CPVC plumbing system, you are eligible to receive two layers of warranty protection from:
- The manufacturer of the pipe and fittings, and
- Lubrizol, the manufacturer of FlowGuard Gold CPVC raw materials.
Your manufacturer warranty comes automatically with purchase of the pipe and fittings. To qualify for the Lubrizol warranty as a builder or contractor, contact us, to receive training and a customized warranty certificate.
Coverage Under PEX & Copper Piping Manufacturers’ Warranties
Unfortunately, for most PEX and copper plumbing systems, the warranty is essentially void as soon as water touches the pipe.
Most warranties from PEX and copper piping manufacturers contain “exclusions” for damage to the system caused by water conditions. These exclusions mean that when/if a PEX or copper system fails due to corrosion or degradation caused by the water flowing through it, the warranty will not cover any damages or repairs.
Regrettably, water-condition-related plumbing system failures are quite common. Since 2001, there have been at least 22 class-action lawsuits alleging failures of PEX, galvanized pipe and copper systems caused by incompatibility between the plumbing system materials and the local water conditions.
To help the industry better understand the limitations of chlorine resistance ratings for PEX, the Plastics Pipe Institute issued a technical note on the subject which states
“The use of PEX tubing in a potable hot-water plumbing system with an operating temperature above 140°F OR system pressures above 80psig or highly aggressive water quality OR any combination thereof can significantly reduce the service life of the tubing.”
The Fine Print: Exclusions in PEX & Copper Piping Manufacturers’ Warranties
Copper: “The manufacturer does not warrant against failure...caused by, contributed in whole or in part by, or resulting from...external causes, where external, physical or chemical qualities produce damage to the Product, such as, without limitation, aggressive water.”
Read residential copper pipe warranty here.
Uponor (2012 – 2017): “this limited warranty does not apply if the product failure or resulting damage is caused by ... external physical or chemical conditions, including, but not limited to chemically corrosive or aggressive water conditions”
Read Uponor PEX pipe warranty here.
Uponor (2017 – Present): “The warranty does not apply when product failure or resulting damages are caused by...external and internal physical or chemical conditions”
Read Uponor PEX pipe warranty here.
Zurn PEX: “This warranty does not apply and you do not have a right of reimbursement if the failure or resulting damage is cause by... any form of corrosion... or damage attributable to water discharged as part of a systems normal operating process... [or] exposure to harmful, unauthorized or unanticipated chemicals or substances”
Read Zurn PEX pipe warranty here.
Viega: “You do not have a remedy or right of reimbursement under this warranty and the warranty does not apply if the failure or leak or resulting damage is caused by...chemically corrosive or aggressive water conditions.”
Read Viega PEX pipe warranty here.
Sharkbite: “This limited warranty does not apply and you do not have a right of reimbursement if the product failure or resulting damage is caused by...exposure to harmful, unauthorized or unanticipated chemicals or substances or corrosive water conditions”
Read Sharkbite PEX pipe warranty here.
Rehau: “In order for this limited warranty to apply...products must not be exposed to harmful chemicals, aggressive or corrosive water conditions or any external influences that cause damage to the products”
Read Rehau PEX pipe warranty here.
NIBCO PEX: “This warranty does not apply and you do not have a right of reimbursement if the failure or resulting damage is caused by... exposure to damaging chemicals, substances or corrosive water conditions.”
Read NIBCO PEX pipe warranty here.
Apollo PEX: "This Limited Warranty does not apply and you do not have a right of reimbursement if the product failure or resulting damage is caused by...exposure to harmful, unauthorized, or unanticipated chemicals or substances or corrosive water conditions."
Read Apollo PEX pipe warranty here.
How to Protect Yourself from Piping System Failure
So what can you do to ensure you’re covered?
While a lot of factors go into your piping system decision, knowing the warranty coverage for the materials you use can help you be prepared. Here are six simple steps to protect yourself from piping failure and ultimately reduce your risk:
- Ask your piping system manufacturer for a copy of their current warranty
- Ask your piping system representative about their specific coverage in instances of piping system failure due to water conditions or material failure.
- Research water conditions in the areas where you work.
- Contact your county water district to be aware of any water treatment updates that may impact the integrity of your piping systems.
- Specify products that are immune to chlorine degradation and are warranted regardless of local water conditions.