Frost-Free Pipe busrt, installed wrong

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Glowrdr, May 18, 2008.

  1. Glowrdr

    Glowrdr New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Need advice on bad plumbing by contractor

    I came across this forum while looking online and thought someone might be able to help.

    In April 2006, I had a professional plumber come to my house and replace both the front and rear spicket on my house due to leaky seals.

    Everything has been fine until a few days ago (time unknown). My wife told me that when she turned on the faucet, water came out from behind the siding. She told me this at like 10 at night, so there really was no reason to check it at that time.

    Well, this morning I wake up to hear my CO2 alarm going off. It got wet, and sent it into hysterics. So did everything else in my basement get wet too.

    Long story short - After some cleaning up and investigating - the frost free valve was installed with a slant running towards the house - so the water would not have drained out of the line as intended. The front faucet is fine - just the rear of the house is the problem. I have read about leaving the hose on after freezing conditions, and feel this was not the case. Either way - I feel that the faucet was installed incorrectly, so hose or not - it would not have functioned properly regardless.

    Do I have any recourse to hold the plumbing company responsible for the damages (will need carpeting, 1 wall sheetrocked, and replacment of items that were on floor, not shelves). I believe this is a direct relation to their installation, but I do not have a good reason why it took 2 winters to freeze. Am i past the period for going after them? The damage is too much just to eat, so I may have to file a homeowners claim if the plumbers are not willing to work with me.

    Any suggestions on this? Thanks

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2008
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    If you found out that water was leaking at 10 PM and didn't check on it until the next AM you might just find limited sympathy about the damages... Common sense would say it there is a leak you should check it out immediately.:eek:

    If the sillcock is installed incorrectly as you state you may have a claim of some nature against the plumber.
  3. Glowrdr

    Glowrdr New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I see where you're coming from - but just to clarify a bit... My wife told me that the faucet was leaking when she was out watering her plants earlier in the afternoon (when I was gone), and last evening we had a gathering at her families house - that was when she remembered and told me.

    Definately if I were home and would have known about a leak, it would have been taken care of immediately. In this case, I got somewhat lucky in that the leak appears to be contained once the spicket is turned off (so it wasn't leaking all day/night).

    Has anyone heard of or experienced any type of liability like this? My first thought is that the plumber is going to tell me to get lost, and will more than likely not want to admit responsibility. Or am I looking at it wrong, and they will be more than happy to correct the issue, replace my property, and perhaps keep some good word out there since they are insured for this type of incident?

    Oh well - keep sending me your advice, and I will let you all know what happens once i speak to them tomorrow.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Which plumber?

    The one that drilled the hole without slope when the home was built?

    Or the one that replaced the faucet?

    I've seen a few holes that were drilled wrong.
    If the hose is taken off, it's not going to freeze and split.
    There wouldn't be enough water there, and it would be open ended.
    When what little water is there, has a place to go as it freezes.
    You must notice that your ice cube trays don't split.

    Insurance companies are there to pay for water damage.
    Call yours.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
  5. Glowrdr

    Glowrdr New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I did speak to my insurance agent, and she suggested that I contact the plumber to see how to proceed.

    I never really thought about the spicket being at the wrong incline before it was replaced. I guess my only question there would be whose responsibilty is it to check that? I am not an expert, and am not trying to sound like one. If I hire someone to do a job, I don't think it's my decision whether they did the correct job or not. If I had hired an electrician to rewire some lights for me, and he wired 100 amp worth of pre-existing lights to a 20 amp fuse and there is a fire - Is he at fault for doing the wiring to begin with, or should he tell me that isn't code and suggest alternate methods? I guess that's what I'm not sure about with the faucet. I've never personally checked the angle of the spicket outside of my house (have you?) - so if there was a problem, shouldn't the professional have noticed it? Maybe my questions are a moot point because I guess not knowing much about the subject, it sounds like there is no possibility that the frost-fee piping could have froze even if it was full of water? I cannot say for sure the exact date I put the hoses away for the season, but at the same time I can say for sure that it wasn't the middle of winter either.

    I will know for certain what will happen tomorrow, but here is what I am expecting: Contact the plumber and realize that isn't the road to follow (not saying that as a negative thing, just that I may be barking up the wrong tree). I will contact my homeowners then, and get the ball rolling on having someone come inspect the damages and inform me of what all needs to be done to fix the problem. Apparently, my homeowners will try to mitigate with the plumbers if they feel there was negligence during the installation that resulted directly in the issue at hand. Depending on the outcome of that investigation, that will decide whether this goes as a chargable claim on my policy, or if the insurance will get reimbursed and they will change the status to a non-chargable claim.

    I guess a couple last questions - Will the insurance pay to have the faucet replaced again (I would assume so)? And besides the obvious - checking carpet pad for molding in a couple weeks, sheetrock, and personal items that have water damage, is there anything else that i should be concerned about? I noticed the floor joices are wet, I don't know if there is anything to worry about behind the siding that needs to be inspected.

    Thanks again for all of your help. Being a homeowner definately leaves lots of time for learning - good and bad.
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    There is no way a frostfree will split if the hose is removed.

    Yours would be the first.

    That's why I like to remind people to remove the hoses.
    Every Spring, I replace frostfree faucets.
    It's the rite of Spring, that and other things.
    I would love to see proof that a faucet with a hose removed will split.
    That would be easy to test.
    Maybe we should start there.

    Fill a frostfree with water,
    set it in the freezer proped to the exact same angle as the one in your house
    Check in the morning.
    I know where my money will be.

    The insurance company normally pays for the damage the water caused, not the repair of the plumbing.
    The agents involved would know better though.
    [​IMG]
    This is how much water would be in the pipe, if the homeowner had removed the hose in Winter.
    The deep end would have contained 1/8" of water at the deep end at a 2% slope.

    [​IMG]
    This is how much water if the homeowner forgets to remove the hose.
    So if the homeowner forgets, the plumber should pay?

    Doesn't it make more sense, for the homeowner to remove the hose in Winter?
    Maybe the plumber can walk the homeowners dog while he is there.
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
  7. Glowrdr

    Glowrdr New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Like I've mentioned before - you're the expert here, not me. But - I do have a question about your mentioned test above. I see a flaw in this theory. The problem is that a frost free (without the hose) will freeze from the outside in - essentially creating an ice "plug". This would cause the water to expand inward, against the seals - thus blowing the ridgid pipe.

    Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong, and overanalyzing things trying to convince myself "it's not my fault". I guess I just tend to be a pretty detail oriented person coming from an IT background, and sometimes things don't quite translate from situation to situation.

    Maybe it's just time for me to goto bed since tomorrow everything will work itself out one way or another - and I'm not getting anything accomplished on a Sunday at 9pm anyways.
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Unless when the hose is removed the bib stays full of water, it will never burst. If there is a slight incline in the wrong direction 98% of the water will still drain out and a small amount will remain in the very bottom of the bib. If this freezes it will do nothing to the bib. It will just make long thin icicles.
    I know you would like to blame the plumber but there is no way, as long as nothing is connected to the bib during freezing weather, that it can burst.

    Even if the incline left the bib 1/2 full of water it wouldn't burst, the pitch is not just to prevent bursting it is to prevent water from stagnating when the bib is not in use.
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,811
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    faucet

    The replacing plumber had to work with two things that could not easily be moved. The hole in the wall and the pipe in the wall. If they did not line up with downward slope, then he would have had to make adjustments which could have required damaging the house, so he connected them back the same way they were. Why was the faucet replaced in the first place? If it was the same type of faucet, then it must also have had back slope and if so why didn't it freeze if that were the cause of the break. Why did a water leak turn on your CO detector? The plumber and his insurance company are going to rely on the standard 1 year after installation warranty period.
  10. Glowrdr

    Glowrdr New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Minnesota
    The original reasons the faucet was replaced was (1) I only had 1 handle for the 2 faucets, and was unable to locate a replacement, and (2) the seals were bad on both faucets, causing water to spray about 3 feet out of the screwhole that the handle would have been attached to (if it was attached, but I had to carry it around the yard with me)

    As for the CO2 detector, it was beeping once every 10 seconds or so (like a smoke alarm with a low battery) - I checked it out and it said ERR on the screen. Probably due to the sensor getting wet.

    I have also wondered why I have never had a problem with leaks in the past - but I do know that I have never been concerned with the angle of the spickets previously, so I could not tell you if it was angled previously. The placement of this pipe is in an unfinished part of a utility room, so the access to the pipes is very easy - unlike the one for the front yard where we had to cut a hole in the ceiling.


    As for the 1 year warranty period - Even if this was 100% their fault, I can understand that there is a 1 year warranty and will just claim this on homeowners - this is why I pay my dues in the first place. Thanks for actually providing me with some hard facts that I can deal with (like them or not). I'm still not convinced that there is no way the pipe could burst if it was full of water. But 1 year is 365 days - there is no debate on that.

    Thanks again for all of your help. I was rather suprised to get such quick responses - I was not quite sure of the popularity of a plumbing site, and how soon someone would find my post. Have a great day everyone - and keep helping us noobs :eek:
  11. Glowrdr

    Glowrdr New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Spoke to the plumber today and he admitted that the installation was not done correctly, and he will be out next week to replace the bibb free of charge.

    He did ask though if I drained the system for winter, and I said no. I do not think I have the ability (or requirement) of draining these water lines for winterization. I let him know that I was unaware I had to drain the lines, and was not sure I had a means to. I asked him to show me how/where to drain my lines, or let me know if the plumbing is inadequate as these outside lines are hard-piped into the house without any shutoff valves.

    As for my "stuff" - I am working with an insurance adjustor to find out the cost of replacement, and then I can weight the decision of chalking it up as involuntary cleaning of the storeroom (most of that stuff ends up there for a reason - cause you don't use it anymore), or if it's worth dishing out a deductable (1k) to replace stuff that I may or may not even need again.
    [​IMG]
    Only this much water could be in the pipe. How could a little sliver of water burst a pipe.
    Wouldn't the frozen water have plenty of room to expand?
    If the pipe is 6" long, and sloped at a 2% grade the wrong way, there would be a depth of 1/8" at the deep end.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2008
  12. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    We talking about removing a hose from a frostfree hosebib right?
    They are maybe 6" to 8" long.
    If you remove the hose in Winter, there is maybe at most, 1/4" of water in the deep end of the pipe, that gradually becomes no water near the end.
    It's kind of like frost on your windshield.
    A very thin coating of ice, but it doesn't split it.
    For a pipe to burst and split, there has to be no place for the expanded water to go.
    A 3/4" pipe with 1/8" to 1/4" of depth at one end, has maybe 1/2" to 5/8" of room to expand into before it even becomes full, much less bulging.

    There are no special arrangments for these to shut them off, if the water seal is in a warm space. That is why the draining portion of the faucet is 6" to 8" long.
    The only part that can freeze, is beyond the seal.
    And if the hose is taken off in Winter, it never happens.

    If you leave the hose on during a cold snap, then the pipe is full.
    My question to you is,
    Do you know enough not to put beer cans in your freezer?
    Those will split too.
    Is this something you didn't learn in school?
    That water freezes at 32 degrees?
    And that as it freezes, it expands?
    That is why a beer can left in the freezer will split.
    They use anti-freeze in cars, so the radiators don't split the copper tubes that make up the radiator.

    I feel for the plumber going out there to replace a faucet that was good before you let it freeze.
    It's common sense, that hoses are taken off in Winter.
  13. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Just an interesting note on water freezing...
    Did you know that water expanding as it freezes can generate a pressure of about 40,000 PSI?:eek:
  14. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,129
    Location:
    New England
    Another interesting point on water expanding...if it didn't, life as we know it probably wouldn't happen since the oceans, lakes and streams would freeze up as the colder, denser (assuming it didn't expand), water fell to the bottom and froze.
  15. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    Here, most hydrants are 12" in length.

    And please don't call them "spikets." That hurts my head. The correct spelling is "spigot," and hydrant is a much more exact term.

    And I agree completely that unless the hydrant is pitched at about a 30 degree angle toward the house it is impossible for it to not drain.

    Every spring I get a rash of these too. And the homeowner always says that they did not leave a hose on in freezing weather. Of course, they did. They just don't realize that in September it feels nice and warm during the day but is dropping below freezing and even below zero at night.

    New Woodford hydrants are designed to help prevent freeze bursting but I don't know how well that works. Their higher-end hydrants are designed to empty water when you shut them off even if you don't remove the hose, but even those can be destroyed if you don't remember to turn them off. (If you have a spring-loaded sprayer on the end of the hose, for example.)

    Were I called in to look at a job like this, the first thing I would do is check the hydrant with a level, then observe exactly where it burst. That would tell me a lot about how much water was in it. Also, I find that people often insulate the hydrant from the heat rather than from the cold, putting the insulation where it will do more harm than good. And these type of hydrants should always have an access when covered by ceiling or wall. Always.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2008
  16. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Just FYI, the pioneers when clearing land and coming across a large bolder that couldn't be moved would drill holes in it them, and when cold weather would come would fill the holes with water then plug them. In the spring they would come by and pick up smaller rocks.
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