Uponor colored PEX degradation -- two leaks so far

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hppsocal

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New construction, 3 years old. First leak happened 11 months ago in the kitchen. You can see in the photos that both sides of the elbow have a hairline break near the fitting. Second leak happened a few days ago very close to the first leak, but in a T.

Some plumbers who came to inspect the issue hypothesized that they were exposed to UV light. However, I recently came across the class action lawsuit against Uponor colored PEX pipes. Do these look like the typical Uponor PEX failures mentioned in the lawsuit? Should we repipe the home?

We are considering filing a claim with Uponor but the website asks to accept a waiver that the pipes may be destroyed during investigation. Not sure if this would be a problem if we have to pursue legal action down the line.

Thanks in advance for your insights!
 

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Jeff H Young

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Youve got 2 tell them to come out take all the pictures they want and take one. or even if they take both and you never have a problem again well then why would you need to sue ? and if you do have more problems youve got a entire house piped with all the evedence you could need
 

Breplum

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If you haven't drilled into my stories posted here and elsewhere, I am a plumbing contractor who has multiple customers who have this exact problem.
Uponor is who to contact. We used the reps, but direct contact with Uponor is a good choice. They will reimburse you for past repairs and repipe your house if you are insistent.
One customer a few years ago got whole house repiped completely. Latest customer (as of March 2024) is only getting the underfloor crawl space repiped, by a contractor paid and supplied by Uponor directly. That customer has been told they won't repipe up the walls for now but the claim will remain on the books in case leaks start inside the walls later on. This home does have a dedicated hot water recirculation line on an aquastat.
 

hppsocal

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If you haven't drilled into my stories posted here and elsewhere, I am a plumbing contractor who has multiple customers who have this exact problem.
Uponor is who to contact. We used the reps, but direct contact with Uponor is a good choice. They will reimburse you for past repairs and repipe your house if you are insistent.
One customer a few years ago got whole house repiped completely. Latest customer (as of March 2024) is only getting the underfloor crawl space repiped, by a contractor paid and supplied by Uponor directly. That customer has been told they won't repipe up the walls for now but the claim will remain on the books in case leaks start inside the walls later on. This home does have a dedicated hot water recirculation line on an aquastat.
Thank you @Breplum for your insights. This is really helpful!

Few follow-up questions if you don't mind:
1. What's the typical turnaround for Uponor to process the claim from contacting them to getting a resolution?
2. Have you ever had a customer do a repipe on their own and them Uponor reimbursed them later?

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

hppsocal

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Got a really nice close-up of the recent pipe break waiting to be fixed. What's up with all these micro fractures near the fitting?

4.jpeg
 

Breplum

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that photo close up matches exactly the photos I have posted of damage.
As to your questions 1. Relatively timely...no major, just typical corporate slowness. I recall calling local Uponor rep, he met and picked up the failed sections and it took a week or so.
2. No, never had customer repipe then seek reimbursement. But, multiple repairs have been reimbursed. Most of the plumbers who came out early on didn't even know about the colored Pex Uponor issue until I told them.
 

JohnCT

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Should we repipe the home?

Yes, one leak can be an aberration, but two leaks means your pipe isn't compatible with your home and and three years in service has aged by a factor of at least ten. Your closeup pic shows pipe starting to literally fall apart.

But here's where it gets ugly - if you want Uponor to pay for the repipe, then you have to put the same crap back in. I wouldn't be able to sleep knowing I might be getting a leak in my kitchen ceiling while I'm sleeping or out for the day.

Before anyone says the colored pipe was recalled - it wasn't - they still sell it and the white pipe has also shown the same propensity for short life as the red and blue. Since Uponor doesn't know what's causing the failures that do happen, there's no way of knowing if any currently produced Uponor is any better than your three year old (three years old!!!) pipe .

Since labor is the majority of the cost of any repipe, I'd try to work a deal with the installer and supply him with PEX (or let him provide material) from a different company and see if he'll install it if Uponor is paying the labor.

If not, and if it was me, I'd repipe with something else anyway, eat the cost, and would hope a class action lawsuit mitigates my loss someday. Even if that never happens, I won't be kept awake by that time bomb in my house.

We are considering filing a claim with Uponor but the website asks to accept a waiver that the pipes may be destroyed during investigation. Not sure if this would be a problem if we have to pursue legal action down the line.

Seems to me that's a weasel way of getting out of a warranty claim, although Uponor has paid for some full repipes (but have denied others). Call them and ask them exactly how much pipe they need to "destroy" to make their diagnosis, then supply that much pipe. Get everything in writing, and good luck.

John
 

Jeff H Young

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I dont think wanting a sample is in any way being weasles and like I said if he has problems he has a whole house full of pipe to use as evedence ,
 

hppsocal

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Finally extracted the bad pipe. The longer side of the T was leaking, the shorter side had something brewing about to burst soon. Uponor asks for 4-7 inches of pipe on each side but, unfortunately, the plumber was not able to take more of the shorter side because the pipe was very hard to access. Hopefully they don’t deny the claim on that basis.
 

JohnCT

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Finally extracted the bad pipe. The longer side of the T was leaking, the shorter side had something brewing about to burst soon. Uponor asks for 4-7 inches of pipe on each side but, unfortunately, the plumber was not able to take more of the shorter side because the pipe was very hard to access. Hopefully they don’t deny the claim on that basis.

The reason they want a minimum of four inches is that connections made too close can leak and that four inch sample will guarantee that the expansions weren't too close and the cause of the failure.

In your case, it's clear the pipe is prematurely aged and has nothing to do with how close the expansions are, but as far as them denying the claim because the sample is too short..

John
 

hppsocal

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The reason they want a minimum of four inches is that connections made too close can leak and that four inch sample will guarantee that the expansions weren't too close and the cause of the failure.

In your case, it's clear the pipe is prematurely aged and has nothing to do with how close the expansions are, but as far as them denying the claim because the sample is too short..

John
Thanks for explaining it, John. We shall see.

@Breplum you mentioned in another thread that the markings on the pipe identifying it as Uponor are important for the claim. The local rep sent a PDF which said they want the date code and the footage marker -- the PDF had an example pipe showing both date code and footage marker next to each other on the pipe. However, the extracted pipe does not have the footage marker after the date code. It says "potable cnsf ..." after the date code. I looked up some Uponor material online and it looks like the footage marker comes at the very end of the print stream identification. To get a photo of that I'd probably need to cut a few extra feet of drywall. Was the footage marker a deal breaker in your experience? Should I open up more drywall to get that info? Thanks in advance for your help!
 

hppsocal

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Update: they accepted the claim and we've been fighting over the repipe, but it's been a nightmare. Their claims adjuster is horrible.

Long story short, they want to pay only for repipe of the hot line. I consulted with 3 different repipe specialists and they all agreed on the following:
1. They only do full repipes: hot and cold. I'd have to pay for the difference to do the cold line.
2. They all claimed that doing just hot or hot+cold is a minor difference in price since the lines run together to most places. There are only 4 places where the cold line runs alone: 3 hose bibbs (2 of them are in the same wall, one upstairs and one downstairs) and refrigerator which is back-to-back with a bathroom sink and that wall needs to be opened up anyways.
3. The price difference to do just hot or hot+cold was about 10-15%. For example, if the contractor quoted 10k for the hot line, it would be ~12k for both.

Then, almost a month later, Uponor comes back and says they want to get an estimate from one of their "trusted" contractors. This contractor essentially contradicts all the previous ones I met with:
1. They claim that doing just the hot is much easier than doing the cold and that doing the cold will result in a lot of extra work.
2. They quote a 50%+ price difference for me to pay out of pocket to do the cold line.

Who is making stuff up?
 

Jeff H Young

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depends how you look at it but the cold is more than 50 percent of the material and labor and wall patching.
that dosent mean I think its fair for you to pay half. but if they say problem is only the hot why would they pay ?I guess to make it right
 

Breplum

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In the case of a neighbor very recently, Uponor now sent out their own-hired plumbing crew. They only did the underfloor crawl (I haven't followed up on if it was both red and blue). They were not authorized to open walls, but, want the homeowner to just wait and see if or when the walls start leaking (shocking to hear).
A few weeks ago, I was called out to investigate water moisture on a nearby condo. It looks like the hundreds of units in this complex may all have the bad Uponor colored PEX. This was RED Uponor pex on a recirculation system. This is maybe the first in this complex....whoa, what a disaster. Only thing worse would be buying a condo in S.F.'s Millennium Tower that has advanced slightly under 29 inches at the northwest corner.
 

Reach4

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depends how you look at it but the cold is more than 50 percent of the material and labor and wall patching.
that dosent mean I think its fair for you to pay half. but if they say problem is only the hot why would they pay ?I guess to make it right
I think they are offering to pay about 2/3, the way I read it.
 

Jeff H Young

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Some of these contractors might figure homeowner only cares what he pays he dosent give a damn if Uponor pays 5 grand or 25 grand as long as nothing comes outta his own pocket (homeowner pocket) So he inflates the cost of the hot only for his clients benefit . and of cource for the benefit of the contractor because he gets a full repipe outta the job.
if homeowners were paying full price for these repipes they (some of them ) would be wanting to get it done cheaper and these contractors would need to be more competetive . Uponor dosent want to get screwed either tough position you are in but a good position for the repiping contractors
 

Taylorjm

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Only 2 years old until your first leak and signs of degradation in the piping, yet people are installing it like crazy today. I just don't understand. Why would you be loyal to a product that has the potential to drag your name through the mud because you were the one that installed it, and it's well known that there are failures in the product.
 

Jeff H Young

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Only 2 years old until your first leak and signs of degradation in the piping, yet people are installing it like crazy today. I just don't understand. Why would you be loyal to a product that has the potential to drag your name through the mud because you were the one that installed it, and it's well known that there are failures in the product.
Im not going through to re read stories but its not totally unheard of to have leaks on houses whether its pex cpvc or copper often its poor workmanship. thats the breaks dont install product that you dont trust I agree it can have nothing to do with the guy that installed it
 

JohnCT

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I'm sure the answer would be no, but I would ask Uponor if they would be willing to pay the cost of the repipe money directly to you if you would agree to sign a waiver absolving them from any further responsibility for your home.

In the unlikely even they would accept that offer, I would take whatever money that is and pay a contractor to repipe the home with something other than Uponor including the cold side - paying for the difference out of my pocket. Your home is 3 years old and had it's first failure at 2 years.

I don't know about you, but I would be checking for leaks every day of my life if it was repiped with Uponor as long as I lived there, and it wouldn't be worth it to me.

Whatever happens, best of luck to you.

John
 

JohnCT

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A few weeks ago, I was called out to investigate water moisture on a nearby condo. It looks like the hundreds of units in this complex may all have the bad Uponor colored PEX. This was RED Uponor pex on a recirculation system.

I think about the only thing we know for sure is that Uponor doesn't play well with recirc systems.

John
 
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