Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Danger of Hard Water and Residential Plumbing Systems in Arizona

If you're experiencing problems with your home's plumbing (pressurization, leaks, etc.), there's a chance you may have a problem known as dezincification. It's particularly prevalent in the Southwest due to hard water reacting with certain styles of brass fittings. Our Firm, along with others, are pursuing class action certification for a number of homes and communities throughout Arizona that may be affected by this problem. Further details can be found at Below is a FAQ page along with pictures that can provide some insight on whether you may have the problem at your home:

Yellow Brass FAQs

What problems are associated with yellow-brass fittings and components?

The PEX plumbing systems are for residential use and have been widely used throughout the United States. These plumbing systems consist of plastic pipes and brass fittings. Only the brass fittings used to connect PEX pipe and the components installed as part of the PEX plumbing systems are the subject of these claims. These homeowners allege that high zinc, yellow-brass fittings and components are defective because they dezincification.

Dezincification is a process whereby zinc leaches from brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, thereby creating a white powdery buildup on the inside of the fitting and a weakening of the brass fitting. Dezincification can lead to, among other things, restricted water flow and an increased likelihood of the brass fitting leaking or breaking.

What is the claims process?

This process can vary by state and you are encouraged to seek the advice and you are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in your area. A lawyer experienced in handling yellow brass claims is best equipped to determine if you have a claim and the method required to protect your rights.

Various states have processes that must be followed to pursue claims against your home's builder and plumber. In some areas, you or someone on your behalf, must first provide notice to your home's builder. Experts retained on behalf of various homeowners have alleged the only proper method to repair these defective plumbing systems and to comply with the Federal Lead Free standards is to replace the entire system. This would include all pipes, fittings, shut-off valves and other components installed in connection with your home's PEX plumbing systems.

Do these allegations involve personal injury claims?

These claims do not involve claims for personal injury. If you have any reason to believe that you have suffered any adverse health effects because of these yellow-brass fittings and components, you should contact a health professional.

How do I find out whether I have a PEX plumbing system in my home?

A home plumbed with a PEX plumbing system may have a yellow or neon sticker on the inside panel of its electrical box. However, before you check, please be sure that you have experience with the location and safe use of your home’s electrical panel box. The purpose of these stickers is to alert electricians regarding proper electrical grounding procedures for nonmetallic plumbing. Often, homes with a plastic PEX plumbing system will have stickers such as the one to the right (on the website). Thus, if you find such a sticker in your electrical panel box, it is likely that your home contains a plastic PEX plumbing system which contains yellow-brass fittings and components.

Please note however that many homes that contain a yellow-brass plumbing system do not have stickers in their electrical panel boxes. Thus, if your electrical panel box does not reveal a sticker indicating that a PEX plumbing system was installed in your home, you may need to have your home inspected to determine the type of plumbing installed in your home.

As a claimant, am I responsible for attorney’s fees and costs?

Most attorneys experienced with handling yellow-brass claims do so on a contingency basis. This arrangement means the legal fees are contingenton the outcome of the case. In other words, a lawyer hired on contingencywill not take fees from clients unless and until a monetary award of damage is received either at or prior to trial. In simplest terms, fees are not assessed unless you win your case.

If my home has yellow-brass fittings and components, what are my repair options?

It is believed that the only adequate repair method is a complete re-plumb of both the hot and cold water lines of your home. Generally, a full re-plumb takes approximately five (5) days for most homes to be completed and does not require relocation.

If you decide to re-plumb your home at your own expense prior to the final resolution of the claims process or litigation, you may consider doing so, however, we would ask that counsel be notified of any anticipated repairs.

What do I do if I have a leak?

Treat it as you would any other leak, including taking steps to minimize any damage and contacting your homeowner's insurance carrier. If a leak occurs, immediately notify your plumber to stop the leak and to minimize any damage to your home. If a repair is required, keep all receipts and documentation of the repair. Please make sure to keep any fittings, pipe or plumbing components that must be removed to carry out the repair. Thereafter, please notify counsel so that we can also keep a record of your leak and repair.

What if I am contacted by my home’s builder?

We recommend you notify an attorney working for you.