Why would NIBCO/CPI Durapex PEX split (lengthwise) and leak?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by celiason, May 27, 2008.

  1. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    I would really really like to see a picture of this split PEX.

    There seems to be a lot of drop a bomb on PEX and run postings. You see the plumbing industry is a bit gun shy on plastic piping. In the 1980's we went with a wrong material called Polybutylene while the rest of the world went with PEX. Who would have known chlorine eats Polybutylene? This led to a huge class action lawsuit and rest assured Shell the maker of the Polybutylene resin didn't suffer any where near as bad as the homeowners and installing plumbers. Shell at least stayed in business... Many of the plumbing companies were driven out of business. If you look back even on this forum you will see plumbers that are very negative towards PEX and frankly I'm surprised that no one has jumped in with a "The Sky is Falling" post. At the present time there are 2 companies that have had problems with their PEX systems. KITEC and ZURN are those companies and the problem was with the fittings not the tubing itself.

    With the price of copper as high as it is and PEX being so inexpensive and easy to install the copper pipe industry is losing its market share and is fighting back. In California the new code is allowing the installation of PEX. The war was fought on all fronts as the California Pipe Trades Consul was fighting it because of the skill level required for its installation they even made claims of chemicals leaching out of the PEX or, Contaminents in the ground water leaching through it. Interestingly enough copper in aggressive water conditions also fail the leaching tests as copper leaches into the water. One thing for sure the Pipe Trades Consul, The Copper Development Association, and Unions have a vested interest in this. Their claims have resulted in a conditional approval in California and they will do their best to keep making claims.

    What we see in these forums is someone making a post such as yours then a total lack of details...

    Please indulge me! Post that picture of the split PEX!
     
    flapper likes this.
  2. celiason

    celiason New Member

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    Working on posting a picture...

    Redwood,

    Thank you for your interest. I will work on honoring your request for a picture. The splits are lengthwise, about 1-2" long and I will have to use a "macro" lens for the close-up. It almost looks like a a split along a "seam" in the spot. There are no apparent scratches or injury to either the inside or the outside of the PEX. If I look down the interior of the pipe, I can see light coming through the split even though it is very narrow. (The split was really visible when water was coming through it and spraying in the attic!) I have sent one of the better samples to the manufacturer for analysis but I will see what I can show you...

    I did not mean in anyway to belittle the plastic piping industry or PEX products. From my research I have learned much about it and agree that in light of rising copper costs, it can be a great solution to affordable piping. I have also learned that any material can have shortcomings based on different applications. I also understand that even the best manufacturer can sometimes have a problem with quality control and have a bad "batch" slip through. I can only relate my experience with this particular brand/batch and what is occuring. (For the most part, I think PEX is OK!)

    I have tried to provide as many details as possible and address all questions and I check back daily to this board and continue to search for answers. Until I hear from the manufacturer, I myself have no idea what is going on.

    I am not running, just trying to wait patiently until I have an answer...
    Believe me, I am very frustrated and waiting and searching for answers is difficult...until I know something, I don't know how to proceed...

    Please bear with me while I get the photo up...(I have three children who are out of school now and they are requiring the majority of my time, an addition to my work...):cool
    :
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Thanks I appreciate that!
     
  4. celiason

    celiason New Member

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    pictures...

    Redwood,

    Here are some pictures I took of the second portion of pex removed...each picture is from the same piece of pipe at the same split location... They are the best I could do and I hope they come through OK...please let me know if they don't ( I am a little behind the curve when it comes to this technology stuff, but the children are helping me...)

    If you can see, the split happens in what looks like a "seam" along the length (note the outside) and appears to start on the interior of the pex, and on the outside you can see where the water actually came through (the sidewall of the pipe split through to the outside)...what could cause this? There are no scratches on the outside...and this is nowhere near a fitting, just in the pipe itself! I am hoping that the engineers and technicians at NIBCO/CPI can find an answer for me. I have receipt confirmation for the sample I sent them from 6-13-08 (Friday the 13th!:eek:) and have been instructed to wait 30 days before calling them for results...It is hard to be patient, but this board helps alot! For the most part, it appears that pex is usually pretty reliable (as well as any other material it seems, based on where you use it), and cost effective...

    Anybody else have a similar experience? What should I expect from the manufacturer? Any advice or suggestions are welcome...

    ...hopeful and optimistic...:eek:
     

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  5. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    :eek:Wow! The sky is falling! :eek:

    That is the first tubing related failure I have ever seen or, heard of!
    It looks from the end view that the damaged section extends past that point I do hope that it was cut back until any evidence of the cut inside was no longer showing when the repair was made.

    I am very interested in what they find was the problem. I know that any manufacturer would be very interested in finding the root cause of failure and I'm sure they will come up with answers.
     
  6. celiason

    celiason New Member

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    Thanks for your reply!

    Redwood,

    I am glad the pictures came through OK! Now you can understand my puzzlement and frustration about what to do...the split on the interior doesn't appear to run the the whole length of the pipe ( it is hard to tell). When I try to feel down inside the pipe (either end), I can fell a little "ridge" or seam inside. I don't know if we removed all the "bad stuff" or not...

    We have replaced as much of this run of pex that is accessible. The rest is behind drywall...I keep looking on the internet for answers, but i haven't found anything and the company website isn't very helpful. When I asked a question through the tech support on the website, I never received a response (in January 2008). I don't know what method NIBCO/CPI used to manufacture this Durapex in 1998. Silane,Engels or radiation? is this Pex-a? Pex b? Is it extruded?:confused:

    I will let you know as soon as I get an answer from NIBCO/CPI!

    Again, thanks for your interest!:)

    ...still waitin'...fightin' the urge to pick up the phone...
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
  7. celiason

    celiason New Member

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    ...one more picture...

    ...not to keep beating a dead horse...

    ...here is a picture that shows light coming through the split in the same piece of pex (tricky shot in full sunlight)...

    (It looks like the pipe started splitting from the inside out and eventually the water pressure was too much.)

    To repeat, residential application, county/city treated water, PRV, expansion tank, gas water heater, all professionally installed to code (no DIY) and manufacturer specs/clearances, no UV exposure...

    ...sigh...

    ...any ideas?...

    I'll keep checking the board, but I probably won't post for awhile until I hear something from the manufacturer. Thanks again to everyone and their 2 cents. I appreciate it!

    -c
     

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    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Yea I know it appears to have started inside, Thats why I was asking if it had been cut back far enough when the repairs were made...

    Well I'll definitely be watching for when you post what they say...
     
  9. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    I've never even seen a piece of PEX up close and personal, but I'm surprised there's any seam at all -- If I were making plastic tubing, I'd use a seamless extrusion process. It definitely was a weak point in this sample.
     
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
  11. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Maybe it was a cheap PEX knockoff made in China. Sure looks like a seam, both internally and in the external pictures. I can't wait to hear what NIBCO has to say.

    Interesting Wikipedia article. Where would we be without the Internet? How did I survive in my formative years?
     
  12. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

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    Maybe a defect in the extruding die that caused an internal scratch. If that is the cause it would mean the whole roll has the defect (as well as however thousands of feet made before the die was replaced.

    Just speculation from what has been said.
     
  13. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Definitely Possible... Wonder how many feet they spit out from when the mandrel got the burr til they detected it... Well as you said its all speculation... We don't know Jack!
     
  14. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Sensitivity trainer and plumber of mens souls

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    Nibco is next with troubles

    Unless this was just a bad run of pipe, my guess it that
    Nibco wil be doing about the same thing Zurn is now doing...

    heading for Canada with the lawyers hot on their tails....


    I thought most pexes had something to do with the materials
    being seamless "cross linked" material and this would not happen.....

    I will have to read the link you left here...


    It will be interesting to see if Nibco
    actually replies to this or they just delay the results
    untill they figure out what their legal options are...



    but in all truthfulness....
    my guess is that they laid off a bunch of
    Americans that knew how to do the work right
    and subbed out the work to the slaves in China..

    now they are gonna pay..100 times more ....for sellling
    their souls to China for the promise of a dirt cheap product...


    you might want to look into some of the skum bag lawyers out
    there who are just chomping to bits to file a class actioin lawsuit
    against these pex companies....

    you could be the test case
    .


    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2008
  15. celiason

    celiason New Member

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    What should I expect?

    Although I am trying to remain optimistic, I am becoming unsure of what to expect when I hear from this manufacturer...am I being completely naive here?

    I still plan to allow them time to complete their analysis and respond to me, but after reading y'alls posts, I am wondering if I should be exploring my legal options too...

    ...sigh...:(

    one more close-up pic I had to shrink so it would fit here...this is the manufacturer stamp on the last section we replaced...(I sent a copy of all the rest of info stamped on this run of pex to the lab also)...

    I am wondering where this particular pipe was actually made. That information was not stamped on what I have...

    Thanks for checking in ...
     

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  16. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

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    One way to maybe look at the rest of the cut out pex would be to get a bright LED and slide it into the tube to see if the scratch can be seen from the outside. You could test the idea on one of the pieces that you know are bad.

    Someone with a small diameter optical probe could look for a little way inside; maybe the stuff still in the wall. From the description, there is a real possibility of it splitting inside the wall if reconnected. The damage from that will probably exceed the cost of a preventive cutting of the drywall to replace the whole piece. If it is an extrusion flaw, there is probably more of it in the house from the same roll. It can be a very nasty situation.

    celiason, you might want to talk to the vendor about that aspect of the situation before the month is up. Explain the issue of liability for damage if it turns out to be the pex (and it sure feels like it is) vs having a preventative replacement at their expense. Maybe pull that whole piece and give most of it to them. They should pay for a whole repipe if the pex is faulty.
     
  17. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Sensitivity trainer and plumber of mens souls

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    find out who installed it....

    perhaps it would be best to figure out who was the buiilder
    of this home and then find out who was the plumber....

    if you are not the original owner, you will have to do a little homework
    but eventually you shoud be able to talk to the plumber who actually installed the stuff

    they should be able to answer your questions as long
    as you dont come across like you are going to sue them...
     
  18. Herk

    Herk Plumber

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    I can only think of two things that are possible that have not yet been mentioned:

    1) Somebody drove over the roll of pipe before installing it.

    2) There is a backflow prevention on a water meter or a pressure reduction valve that prevents water pressure from relieving as the water heater heats and expands the water, resulting in extreme pressure in the middle of the night or whenever the water isn't used for a while. However, a relief valve should be protecting in this instance.
     
  19. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    I know PEX can only be exposed to sunlight for a specific short duration, I don't know what sunlight does to PEX but maybe the roll was exposed longer than it was supposed to be before being installed.

    The pic almost makes it look like there was a problem during the extrusion process...a burr on the end of the mold maybe and your roll got through before it was caught or the plastic recipe wasn't the right %s and it shrunk, extrusion pressure wasn't right the temps were off?

    I can't wait to here what the Mfg. says.
     
  20. BRB19

    BRB19 Plumbing Supervisor

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    I'm in the office of a plumbing company in Charlotte NC and we do residential as well as other phases of plumbing. We used Dura-Pex for a number of years and had switched over to Rehau a few years back. We've experienced many of the instance that is shown in the photos here in the last couple years. It's ONLY Dura-pex ( so far ) , ONLY on the hot side , and in a couple year span of construction which leads us to believe it is a bad batch.

    The majority of the houses we installed it in had PRVs but not Expansion tanks which were not code at the time. We've put them on the houses that experienced the problems afterwards hoping to alleviate any further splitting.

    Here is what I know. Durapex was bought out by the Nibco INC. of Elkhart Indiana. Calling them or their reps is virtually worthless.

    We have been given a number that has helped many homeowners and will continue to issue it once the problem is identified as a defective Dura-pex pipe. The company is the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies of Warren NJ, and their number is 908-903-2000. Their fax is 908-903-2027. They seem to be the one in charge of handling claims on Dura-pex issues.

    I'm not buying the scratches on the exterior of the pipe having anything to do with this issue and having seen it first hand many times I'm convinced and it's obvious that it is a manufacturing or error in the chemical makeup of the pipe. I've been told before that recirculation pumps decrease the life of the pex on the hot side due to it replicating years of use in a short time. Either way the pipe can be defective but it's only on the hot, right near the heater ( usually ), and a very, very small percentage of pipe out there. I could list many problems and errors with copper fittings and tubing/pipe if you like. No pipe system is perfect.

    Bad batch seems to be the best explanation.

    FYI, I've also seen one instance of perpendicular splitting on a pex pipe and there is never a " scratch " or hole near the site that isn't caused by the defect splitting from the inside out.

    It would take a very talented plumber to scratch the inside of a 3/4" or 1/2" pex tube in the middle. ( insert rim-shot here ).
     

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