Some of you may know that years ago for my dissertation I wrote the only history of the US Army’s use of “spiritual fitness training.” It was a 400 page cultural and intellectual history that spanned from the 1940s until 2013, and it was a lot of fun to write. I’ll pass it to you if you need something soporific at night.
I am now composing a scholarly article on Zurn Pex Pipe Fittings as the outcome of my most recent research. Just kidding, but I thought I’d pass on some information that—let’s hope – doesn’t actually become relevant for you at any point.
Most people by now are familiar with polybutylene, a plastic resin pipe that replaced copper between 1978 and 1995. Those pipes failed with enough regularity to instigate a Class Action lawsuit.
Anyway, pex piping was also made to replace copper and many homes in this area have it. I’m under the impression that the pipe itself is ok, but particular fittings – those F1807 Fittings made by Zurn Industries, made of yellow brass and manufactured between 1996 and 2010. The fittings are stamped with “Qpex” on them, so you can locate them that way on pipes in your crawlspace or elsewhere. They can cause both leaks and occlusions in the pipes that can result in more damage. A few years ago, these bad boys spurned a Class Action lawsuit.
In my adventure to research these things and to assess risk of damage for a buyer client, I talked to numerous local plumbers, all of whom had been in the business for decades. Most of them were unaware of the class action lawsuit.
The main thing I wanted to know was: if your home has these Zurn fittings, what are the risks, how can you tell if the fittings are faulty, what are the options for fixing them, and how much will it cost? The answers varied, but here’s how those conversations went, more or less.
There’s no risk to having these in your house. They’re perfectly fine. No, I’ve never heard of a lawsuit or problem with these. It’s crazy to think that people would tear up their houses to pull pipes out of walls for these. It doesn’t make any sense! I’ve only ever had to do that once, and not for Zurn fittings. Any plumber that recommends that you’d have to tear piping out is just a racket. They’re trying to make money.
(Later that day….) I called my buddy and he told me about the lawsuit. I guess because of that I’d have to say you need to do something about it. Replace the fittings that you see, that’s it. I wouldn’t tear pipes out of a house! If they’ve held up this long, they’ll probably hold up for another 20 years.
I do know about a lawsuit, but I wouldn’t do anything about these. I know people don’t want to hear this, but I tell them to just wait and not do anything. If these fittings do fail, they’ll just start spraying a tiny bit of water first, not a whole dramatic break. What happens is that the fittings leach zinc and can cause a build up in the pipe and also make the fitting porous, which can cause leakage. The leak is slow, which can cause damage over time. In general, I do not think it’s worth it to cut pipes out of a house. If you start to notice your water pressure is low or that there’s a wet spot somewhere, then investigate. You can replace the fittings you can see if it will make you feel better.
Very occasionally we do cut pipes out of a house. It’s not often, but if the Zurn fittings look bad enough, we would consider it. If they don’t look bad enough, we recommend replacing the fittings you can see and installing a water filtration system that will filter out the stuff that breaks the fittings down. That should take care of the issue.
How much does this cost?
The quote we got to replace a few (5?) fittings and to install a water filtration system was $2800. If you got to the point of having to tear pipes out of the entire house, replace fittings, repair drywall and paint, then it would depend on how large the house is and how many stories it is. But you’re probably looking at over 10k at least.
Do you need a plumbing recommendation? Do your fears about pipes in your house keep you up at night? Call me! Happy to chat and/or direct you to someone who can help!