can a multi-turn shutoff turn itself on?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by dekelly, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. dekelly

    dekelly New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Chelmford, ma
    I understand that this is a real stupid question but I do not know where to turn. Basically I am being blamed and sued for using the standard multi-turn (NSF) shut-off valves when I removed a vanity. The claim is that these valves randomly turn themselves back on. I am not talking about a leaking condition. I am talking about a valve that goes from being off to spraying water on the ceiling. Additionally the valve still works! It was turned back off. Not a blown gasket. This claim is being made by a licensed plumber as well as the property manager. They claim this happens all the time! I was negligent since I did not cap off the valves. To add insult to injury, we are talking less than a day here.

    Of course the main problem is that I am being told by the association that I cannot be 100% sure that this did not happen since these “licensed professionals†say it happens all the time. Unfortunately that is the nature of science/observation, we can never be 100% sure. We cannot prove 100% that gravity exists, the Sun will come up in the east and set in the west, etc.. I have no means to prove something did not happen. I am just trying to find out if there is anybody who has actually seen this happen or has an explanation on how it could happen. Personally I think there would be warning labels on shut-off valves telling you not to use them to shut-off water if they are know to randomly turn themselves on. The manufacture would want to protect themselves from lawsuits. If it actually ends up in court, I guess I will be joining a manufacture. I have to be able to override testimony of “licensed professionals†.

    Like I said it is a stupid question, but I had to ask it.

    It is not like I do not know what happened. The Property Manager sees the condo complex as his territory. Historically he has been ripping off the condo owners for side work in the complex. I am starting to take his side work away. First he tried to get the board to pass a rule to prevent people he does not approve from doing work within the complex. Typical. Of course that is a joke and did not work. You cannot tell an owner who they can hire. Fortunately he is not really that smart.

    In this situation the fire department was called when the neighbor noticed a wet floor and heard water rushing in the vacant apartment. The fire department report that they found the apartment secured. All windows and doors were locked. So they had to literally chop the door down. (I had the dead bolt going into steel with 4-4 inch screws.) They report that the water coming from a shut off valve was hitting the ceiling. Plus the ceiling is damaged where the water was hitting it. The report says that they turned the valve off and then wrapped a rag around the valve. Then called the building inspector and property management company.

    The property manager claims that this proves it is my fault. It could not be vandals since the apartment was secure. Of course what he doesn’t mention is the fact that he has access to the apartment. The association requires that the management company has keys to all units. This was no exception. He had access to the master key. “Of course it is ridiculous to even think he had something to do with it!†Had he left a door or window open, he would still have done the same damage, but obviously I would not be blamed. (I guess it would not be good enough to collect on my insurance, He wants to specifically blame me.)

    There could even be merit in the case if he had broken a pipe. He could claim I broke the pipe in took off so I would not be blamed. Therefore I truly believe that this idiot actually believes that these valves turn themselves on! His plumber buddy is not that bright and perhaps he actually believes it to. I mean the property manager is good at the BS he flings. What it tells me is that somehow he got this concept that these screws back themselves off. More than likely something he misinterpreted. My real question is where did he get this idea?

    If anyone is curious, he has already ran the bill up to $35K even though there was no damage to other apartments or the hallway. Of course he had his plumber cap off the valve, has thrown away the carpet, torn out the wallboard, where the wallboard was not removed it was smashed with a hammer to test for mold, bent up the radiators, and broke the door jam because I secured the apartment with a lock I mounted into the broken door. Just today I walked into the 500 sqft apartment. He had 12 commercial blower going, along with 3 commercial dehumidifiers to demold the place. They even had to bring in additional power since there was not enough in the apartment. It is a challenge to even get in the apartment with all the equipment there. I guess when you are being charged per hour on equipment, you can never have enough.

    It has become a joke. But I am constantly being told that these valves turn themselves on. I just cannot figure out where that comes from.
  2. Joe the Plumber

    Joe the Plumber Pluumbing, of course

    Messages:
    48
    That statement is the stupidest thing I ever heard.
    And I've heard of plenty of stupid things.

    I'd like to see them take you to court with that stupid thing to say.
    If multi-turns did that, there wouldn't be a home standing today.

    The first thing a plumber does, is "Stop out the house"
    Once the stops are installed, you can just forget about it, and take your time.
    Is that freak of nature saying that his building is in some kind of time warp where there are black holes and space worm holes?
    He's freakin' out of his mind with that story.

    A multi-turn valve has a rubber seal, that snugs up against the seat.
    It takes quit a bit to make that rubber give up it's hold.
    What a dork!


    Brass body – one-piece construction
    The flow of water is controlled by the stem
    Washers act as a seal to keep water flowing to the stop while keeping contaminants out of the water flow
    The stops have removable handles
    Repairable in the field
    Wide SKU offering
    Made in the USA

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 19, 2009
  3. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Sounds like you are shit out of luck! You were the last one to touch the piping and no one else had access to, or broke in to, the apartment... except the care-taker.

    I have never seen any valve turn it self on however if you did install the valves correctly you'd have a case against the mfg of the valves. However the building is still going to sue you and you'll have to sue the mfg of the valves.

    Restoration isn't cheap and they have to make sure they do a THOROUGH job to make sure no mold forms etc etc.

    But I would ask why you, a non-licensed plumber, would be doing plumbing work in an apartment building, ESPECIALLY, in a unit that isn't owned by you. This is just asking for disaster and it sounds like you found it. Especially since I would be surprised if your home insurance covers this because (by the sounds of it) you weren't working in a property you owned?

    It sounds like maybe the care-taker did it however you'd have to prove this I would think and this will probably be impossible unless you find a witness who saw him in or around the apartment before the leak occurred.

    Good luck with it anyway!
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,246
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    The good news is that they are going to have to prove your negligence. If they cannot provide evidence of negligence and/or testimony from an expert to provide proof of negligence they will have a hard time convicting.
  5. ilya

    ilya In the Trades

    Messages:
    105
    Location:
    Akron Ohio
    condos,licenses and insurance

    I am not licensed but I DO have commercial insurance thru Nationwide. If you can get it you need to.Be up front with your agent abput no license! To do otherwise is fraud, and voids coverage. An attorney told me I was " running down the street naked in a hailstorm" without it. I was totally unaware of condo associations banning unlicensed work-good to know.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,985
    Location:
    New England
    Depending on where you live, most places only allow licensed workers in multi-family dwellings (condos, duplexes, hotels, motels, etc.). And, in some places doing any work outside of your own home without a license isn't allowed. Enforcement is spotty, but will bite you if there's a problem. Regardless of who does the work, permits and inspections are normally required except for the simplest tasks.
  7. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    If you lived in a Condo unit would you want your upstairs neighbour hiring some joe hack job to do some electrical or plumbing? Someone that has no insurance and no $ so if any problems arise you're basically out of luck because you can't sue them for anything because they have nothing and they have no insurance to cover you. Then the next thing you know a fire starts or you get flooded out and you're screwed.

    I certainly wouldn't want my neighbour doing that to me.! :D
  8. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Around here, they just demand a million or two in insurance coverage. You can't buy insurance without a license, so...

    I thought it was like that everywhere.
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,992
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    In Washington State, if you are doing plumbing or remodel work without a bond and license, they can drive by your job, and take your tools and your truck.

    Bond, License, and plenty of insurance.
  10. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    I just remembered - Ohio - Joe the Plumber?

    Ohio doesn't have State-wide licensing for plumbers. It's all at the local level.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,605
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    valve

    Whether a multi turn angle stop could turn itself on or not would depend on the "pitch" of its stem's threads. "Quick opening" valves have a steep pitch, and pressure CAN force them open, but I have never seen it happen with fixture angle stops. From your description, however, you will need your own "expert witness" to refrute theirs, since you do not seem to be a licensed, and maybe uninsured, person, without the credentials to testify about the integrity of the valve. Someone should have the actual valve, however, because without it neither side can "prove" what caused the problem and therefore you will have to deal with just the damage, and in that case, you are probably on the hook for that. IF you can get it, which may not be possible, a certified testing laboratory could pressurize it and see if they could MAKE it open by itself and testify to it, or testify how much pressure it would have taken to self operate if they could do it. If you want proof that "anything goes" when getting paid time and material because of some "accident", watch how many trucks and men show up when a telephone, cable TV, gas, water, or electric line gets damaged. EVERY one of them is going on the bill, even though only one of them may be doing the repair. Their policy is to make the repair so expensive that the person will NEVER do it again.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2009
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