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Piping Failures in luxury Seattle high rise

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,681
    The company I used to work for got on the Aquatherm bandwagon a few years back. Difficult to manage the fusion equipment in sizes larger than 2". I have only installed a small amount of it myself.

    They (my old company) had a few failures. Did a complete renovation of a hot water heating system in a giant high school with it. Every size up to 6". From what I saw it was all installation related. I think the product is tough as nails if installed right.

    Problem is:
    expansion contraction
    the stuff is big $$$
    Fittings not readily available (in spite of what the sales people say.
    Needs a ton of hangers
    Buying or renting the fusion equipment

    6" if I remember correctly needs hangers every 3' (or less)if run at "normal" heating temperatures of 180 deg

    I am guessing it's all installation related
  • info43
    info43 Member Posts: 51
    Lol. I googled Aquatherm and the first video i saw has Dan in it. https://youtube.com/watch?v=sNbTkWF_Bro
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,222
    My son was just telling me about this yesterday.I don't know what the tenants problems are about having to get kicked out during the day. I mean, if they were actually paying a lot of money for the places, then they could maybe be a little more upset. I mean, they are only paying $3200 per month. What else would you expect for something this cheap, right? ;)
    The place I am staying at is less than a mile away. I wonder if they need any help with this. Maybe a little sideline work. Give me something to do. :*
    Rick
  • DanInNaperville
    DanInNaperville Member Posts: 37
    Since it's polypropylene (which is what the site says it is) it should be every bit as good with chlorinated water (halogens) as polybutylene. https://www.professionalplastics.com/professionalplastics/ChemicalResistanceChartofPlastics.pdf
    Of course, many insurers will refuse to insure a house with polybutylene piping since they pretty reliably burst at between 5 and 30 years.
    The phrase "run screaming" comes to mind...
    :smile:
  • Steve Ebels_3
    Steve Ebels_3 Member Posts: 1,290
    Do my old "Wall" ears detect faint echos of Ken Secor extoling the virtues of copper piping for ALL uses? ;)
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,419
    No, I'm only interested in why the system or piping failed.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    Copper is failing on Long Island and no one knows exactly why.
    Retired and loving it.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,868

    Copper is failing on Long Island and no one knows exactly why.

    And pex has been know to fail under certain conditions, hot, over chlorinated water constantly circulating for example.

    I'd suggest chronic failures lead one to believe the fluid and materials are not 100% compatible.

    Assuming the product was properly selected, sized and installed.

    Water, the universal solvent :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Timtheplumber
    Timtheplumber Member Posts: 1
    PPR pipe has limitations. Make sure you install it per recommended plastic pipe institute guidelines. Be careful with high flow rates, hot water over 140 degrees Fahrenheit and copper ion's in PPR systems. Be careful of using boilers with copper heat exchangers in a PPR hot water system.
    https://plasticpipe.org/pdf/tn-57.pdf
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,597
    There are lead pipes in Rome which the Romans put in, 2000 or so years ago... and they're still OK... but they are lead. Sorry.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MaxMercy
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    But look what happened to them, Jamie. ;-)
    Retired and loving it.
    CanuckerforesthillsjdErin Holohan HaskellIntplm.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,331
    I am also wondering why it failed.

    I'm also curious if anyone has any experience with the Aquatech pipe that is similar to the Aquatherm. Have there been similar issues? Can the two be mixed or used together?

    The article above is the first I hear of such failures. Not pushing the "Panic" button. Just want to know.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,764

    Do my old "Wall" ears detect faint echos of Ken Secor extoling the virtues of copper piping for ALL uses? ;)

    Except for steam, that is. I miss Ken.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,680
    Blame the engineer. I can plumb four floor buildings. But no idea how to do fourteen floor let alone forty. Why aren't there enough shut-offs so that one doesn't need to evacuate whole building for repairs or modifications?
    Intplm.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,871
    Well, it's engineered right, and there's no possibility of any failure, so isolation valves are just an unnecessary expenditure.
    ZmanMaxMercy
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,597
    ratio said:

    Well, it's engineered right, and there's no possibility of any failure, so isolation valves are just an unnecessary expenditure.

    How's that again? I hope that's meant as a joke! If it's engineered right, there are isolation valves. If there aren't isolation valves, it's not engineered right.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,871
    Yes, a joke; I was making fun of the engineers who are invincibly certain that any problem is an installation issue.
    Intplm.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,597
    Actually high rise buildings are a fascinating engineering challenge when it comes to the plumbing. There are a number of ingenious ways to ensure that the pressures on all floors are at least vaguely reasonable -- but none of them are particularly simple (on the other hand, I've seen some outrageously complex solutions, too...)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,680

    Copper is failing on Long Island and no one knows exactly why.

    In the good old days copper was copper and water was water. In modern times,say the last fifty years,particular copper was specified for particular water. But then the water changed. Sometimes only cold ate copper;sometimes only hot water did,and sometimes the new water ate both.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    We had most of the copper in the house replaced recently when we redid the kitchen and downstairs bath. We left just what is in the boiler room. This green spot wasn't there last a few months ago. Copper and Long Island do not get along well.

    Retired and loving it.
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 386
    edited May 2019
    Dan, I remember some of your copper piping woes over the years. If I recall, the original copper tubing lasted about fifty years without issues, is this correct? I'm guessing that water chemistry may have changed over the years in your area (same may be true for many areas) and these changes may have a negative impact on the copper?

    For what it's worth, we've worked on at least two hundred homes, businesses, schools, apartment buildings and churches in my town here in NJ. Every one of them have copper for domestic hot and cold water supplies. Very few, if any have developed leaks that I know of. However, in my own house a 28 year old section of copper that I installed 28 years ago, was removed when I relocated boiler and indirect two years ago. It had a blueish tint to in on the inside, almost turquoise in color. What's really odd, is this is the first time I've ever noticed this bluish tint on copper pipe in our town. I am very aware that in recent years our city water often smells like bleach. I am often reminded by the family that the water tastes salty in the winter months and "leaves a film" on your body after showering.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    @ScottSecor, we do have a toxic plume in the aquifer under our houses that the water folks are heavily treating with chemicals. I suspect that has something to do with the copper problems since it's in the domestic pipes and not the heating pipes. But that old copper still lives on without problems, so there's also that.
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    I haven’t, @Larry Weingarten. Thanks.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Kuertchen
    Kuertchen Member Posts: 5
    Trenton, NJ- Copper is failing, old, new, "L", "M" on both domestic hot and cold. Municipal systems water treatment seems to be a cause, and I am confident that a bad grounding system will also contribute to it.
  • bridgeman
    bridgeman Member Posts: 1
    Aquatherm PPR pipe ..
    Clean and generally a non-reactive material that can be reprocessed after use and made into new plastic products so it is a highly recyclable and unusual plastic.
    I was the first person to apply for code approval of the Aquatherm potable water Pipe use in King County, State of Washington together with Jim Pascal, P.E. We were the first to receive that approval in that State in early 2000’s.
    I no longer have a relationship with Aquatherm’s German based owners having transferred my interests to the current Utah based distributor in 2007.
    What do I think of the product? I think it is a good alternative to other potable water supply systems including CPVC, cross linked P.E., (PEX), and copper. It’s use can be driven by site specific needs. Aggressive PH water can defeat copper in a short period of time and pit it to the point of leaking in a matter of a few years and PPR can be the perfect option. PEX installations use mechanical connections like Shark-Bite, stainless compression bands, and stretch bands to hold fittings together with varying results. PPR’s socket welds are almost bulletproof to leaks but the fusion welding tools are expensive to buy and can be hard to find if you want to rent one.
    I have personally installed over six residential projects with good success. One included a ground source radiant heating system. All were with smaller diameter piping less than 1.5 inch. About the time I transferred my interest in Aquatherm and my Aquatherm.com website to the Steve Clark of Utah, there was a commercial project done in Portland, Oregon at the Old White Stag building. The mechanical contractor had problems with leaking joints for a couple of reasons as I understand it; no pressure testing in accordance with Aquatherm published methods, improper expansion loops, and correct pipe supporting as shown in the Aquatherm documents.
    Because the pipe is plastic, it has large expansion and contraction coefficients with temperature changes. This material movement needs to be accommodated.
    Other limitations of PPR pipe are it lack of resistance to sunlight. Subsequent Aquatherm products addressed sunlight resistance but like PVC without certain additives, sunlight can make it brittle. PPR is also very good at resisting breaking when temperatures drop below freezing and are full of water as it is somewhat “stretchy” It is not a good product when frozen to resist impact and can fracture if hit hard and if impact is likely, it should be protected.
    Would I use it again? Certainly. PEX is cheaper, but does not offer the same level of purity as PPR in terms of leaching plastic monomers into your drinking water. You absolutely need to follow the manufacturers installation instructions for PPR as you may be lulled into submission by it’s easy of making welded connections at fittings and overlook expansion loops or support needs of the product.
    Zmanrick in Alaskaicy78
  • 426hemi
    426hemi Member Posts: 63
    We used to use it back when I did dredging from 12 to 18 in diameter sometimes over a mile long with booster pumps virtually indestructible if you pay attention and check the temperature and time the heating cooling ect fusing it is “idiot proof” but one day someone decided that this “mindless job” was perfect for the two dumbest people in the company the welds started failing a few days later! If you make something idiot proof god will invent a better idiot
  • B_Sloane
    B_Sloane Member Posts: 56
    jumper said:

    Blame the engineer. I can plumb four floor buildings. But no idea how to do fourteen floor let alone forty. Why aren't there enough shut-offs so that one doesn't need to evacuate whole building for repairs or modifications?

    realistically,
    you need a separate system say, every 10 floors
    I work in many 20-30 story buildings
  • B_Sloane
    B_Sloane Member Posts: 56
    jumper said:

    Blame the engineer. I can plumb four floor buildings. But no idea how to do fourteen floor let alone forty. Why aren't there enough shut-offs so that one doesn't need to evacuate whole building for repairs or modifications?

    realistically,
    you need a separate system say, every 10 floors
    I work in many 20-30 story buildings
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 415
    edited December 2020
    All the more reason for Victaulic pipe couplings for PVC pipe.

    when the new hospital was built here in 1979 they used Victaulic
    pipe and clamps for the large diameter fire suppression feed water standpipes in the stairwells and I am going to assume this was done for the sprinkler runs as well

    Fused pipe is a wonderful thing as long as its done CORRECTLY; we have 20 + miles of it underground where I used to work. The butt weld electro fusion machines mounted on carts work very well and they need 480 volts if I remember correctly.

    The hand held 110 volt fusion melters have a dual element on them that requires you to pay attention as the smaller 2 inch heavy wall black PVC pipe has a time window to fuse the couplers to the pipe ends to mate rolls of pipe together.

    The McElroy folks have been building pipe fusion machines for a long time.

    About the building in question is this high rise residential building in Seattle the one that is tilting due to shorter pilings or is that high rise residential building in San Francisco?
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 170

    Installer or pipe manufacturer? Only the attorneys know for sure...

    “Installing the stuff is super tricky,” Robles said. Sometimes, he said, “plumbers take on the project without really knowing what they’re getting into.”

    How scary is that quote..

    Intplm.