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Construction Insurance Bulletin


By March 1, 2014No Comments

Chances are that you’re using chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, (CPVC) – a thermoplastic material in pipes and related products—because it’s less expensive and easier to install than copper or iron piping.  Failure of CPVC components can lead to extensive water damage; and repairs can be costly and complex because these pipes and fittings are located above ceilings, behind walls, and below floors,

In case of a piping mishap, here’s what to do:

  • Identify the material. CPVC pipes and fittings are usually yellow, cream, orange, or gray.  Don’t confuse them with components made of its distant cousin polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which has different chemical properties, physical characteristics, and functions. In general, it’s not advisable to combine CPVC components with those made of PVC.
  • Preserve the failed part for forensic analysis. This involves a complex  chemical/materials evaluation that requires unique skills and specialized examination methods, using such advanced techniques as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. To avoid contamination during analysis: 1) don’t tape labels on the damaged part; 2) handle it as little as possible; and 3)  if you can’t leave the part in its installed position, wrap it in aluminum foil before placing it in a plastic bag (the materials in these bags can leach out).
  • Never break open cracked pipes and fittings to see what’s inside. |Leave this to a forensic scientist under controlled conditions.

Because CPVC failures can have a variety of causes from raw material flaws and manufacturing defects, to improper installation and maintenance, determining which party is responsible can be difficult. However, safety proper procedures for installing and maintaining these components can go far to reduce this risk.

A word to the wise …