Bathroom roughened with new PVC
In recent years, many older homes in South Florida have had their cast iron sewer pipes fail.
These are the pipes that lead to the septic tank. Unfortunately, this is becoming commonplace in older South Florida homes, and affected homeowners must be smart and vigilant to survive this extremely unfortunate situation.
If you’ve ever heard a gurgle after a load of laundry or a long shower, you might be hearing the first warning signs. Also note if a toilet flush seems to be slower than it used to be or requires multiple flushes. An increase in roach sightings and general random bad smells can also indicate problems. A backup is a more serious sign, and one you just don’t want to toss and forget about Drano. In my experience, it’s better to call in a professional to look around early and take care of it right away. Here’s why.
As you might expect, insurance companies are doing what they do best as more and more homes are found with this problem. Denying and delaying current policyholder claims and quickly rewriting new policies to eliminate coverage of this issue. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you will not be paid or will be paid very little.
I will not go into all the details about cast iron degradation other than to say:
• The bottom of the tube first thins and develops pinholes
• Internal deposits impede the smooth flow of solids
• Water seeps along the pipe run and begins to wash away the underlying soil
• Which can then lead to the collapse of the pipe and even create potential for small sinkholes.
Kitchen raw with new PVC
In most cases, the only correct solution after diagnosing deteriorated cast iron plumbing is to replace it with PVC. This involves cutting through the slab of your home, removing the cast iron and running new PVC pipe on top of the properly re-compacted fill along the same path and slope. You can expect a lot of chaos and time in this process.
Don’t treat this problem as a typical home fix. Reaching the cast iron pipes leads to further repair work and can result in an almost complete interior makeover. Therefore, understand that you are managing a project involving your insurance carrier, a plumber who specializes in this type of work, the local government permitting process, and probably a contractor or two to repair the damage to your home, after accessing the pipes under the plate.
While I’m no expert and every case and solution is different, I live in Palmetto Bay and recently had first-hand experience. My advice is:
Don’t fight your insurance ahead of time. Contact your expert and avoid the legal route. I think my score was a lot better than if I went into the insurance claim looking for a fight and making the first hit. You can always consult a lawyer and a public expert later.
Choose a plumber who has plenty of experience replacing cast iron. There are only a handful in South Florida. When choosing your plumber, don’t just choose based on their plumbing skills, but ask about their ability to work with insurance companies on claims.
Don’t believe your insurance. Most will tell you that plumbing is a consumable item that is not covered by your policy. That’s usually true, but they should cover access to the lines for repairs and restoring your home once the work is complete.
Use the current building codes and permitting process to force the insurance company to pay for what they have to pay for, called code compliance coverage. In my case, they had to redo my power supply because it ended up not complying with the current building code.
Make time each day to take plenty of photos of the work being done. Digital images are generally free. You might also want to shoot a video. I ended up submitting about 100 photos to my insurance carrier to cover additional items.
Even if you don’t want to be a project manager, you probably will. I firmly believed in hiring different people for each phase of my project. This created natural friction and gave me multiple opinions on each task. Yes, it made it more complicated, but it also did a better job than just having the plumber bring in a bunch of other trades to “get it done”.
This topic has so many facets. As a real estate agent, I see everything. Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions at [email protected]. I will do my best to help.
REAL ESTATE UPDATE
The Pinecrest real estate market is cooling off. This is a healthy move and should bring stability to what has been a rollercoaster ride for us over the past five years.
Sell faster, sell smarter! There is nothing more important than reality when you want to buy or sell. Don’t hire a “yes man”. Hire a professional who will provide an honest picture and present pricing facts.
Hal Feldman is a broker at RE/MAX Advance Realty. Contact him with story ideas or real estate questions at www.MiamiHal.com.
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