Questionable Materials or System Defects

ABS Drainage Pipes -

Some ABS drain pipe manufactured and/or installed during the years 1984 through 1988 has been found to have been manufactured with defective materials. Products manufactured under the names Centaur, Phoenix, Polaris, Gable, and Apache are reported to have failed, as have others not listed. Some of this pipe was installed into the 1990s. ABS legal

Polybutylene Pipes - Will the Pipes Fail?

While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in the public water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the Polybutylene piping and acetal fittings causing them to scale and flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result, and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property. It is believed that other factors may also contribute to the failure of Polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is virtually impossible to detect installation problems throughout an entire system. Other links: What is Polybutylene - Real Estate and Polybutylene

Galvanized pipe -

Galvanized steel piping is still in use, however, it is not installed in modern construction. It oxidizes from the inside out, the oxidation (rust) reduces the interior diameter of the pipe, restricting the flow of water and it usually first leaks at threaded joints where the pipes are joined. Adequate water supply can normally be restored, to some extent, by replacing the horizontal supply piping in the basement (assuming they are accessible) with copper piping. Replacing the vertical risers in the walls is much more difficult and expensive than accessible horizontal piping. It is common to see this type of pipe used from the main water meter to the main water shut-off valve on older homes and failures are common.

Problems with EIFS-

The problems with barrier EIFS cladding all stem from water intrusion. These problems include moisture accumulation in the wall cavity, subsequent wood damage and, in more advanced cases, mold growth and the infestation of pests such as carpenter ants or termites. There are many sources of water intrusion in barrier EIFS, including improper joints around penetrations, improper joints where EIFS meets dissimilar materials, and lack of proper flashings. Water can also enter the system through cracks in the face of the EIFS, regardless of how small the crack. Essentially, any joint or penetration in the EIFS material may be suspect and once water gets in, it usually has no way out. EIFS links, EIFS facts.

One Coat or Utah Stucco-

"One coat" stucco systems fail because they can actually hold moisture in and in part due to poor workmanship have experienced their greatest degree of failure. When compared to brick or siding, a stucco system requires the same care at window connections, roof to wall connections etc., however, with a "one coat" stucco system saturation and failure of the system through the field (i.e. open areas without architectural penetrations) can occur. Because an acrylic topcoat is designed to shed more water than the purely cementation color coat of a conventional three coat system, this same acrylic top coat by its nature also holds more moisture in if water penetration occurs. The dry rot period is also longer. The concept behind a stucco system since its conception has been one of minimal saturation and rapid dry out and drainage times. In thicker three coat systems ( a finish three coat system measures 7/8") water enters the system quicker, however, it also drains by gravity out of the bottom of the system much quicker and other dry out that occurs between storms is much quicker. Unfortunately three coat systems don't perform well in Utah's climate because of freeze-thaw conditions. Warm moist air which is pushed ahead of cold fronts generally produces rain which is followed by freezing temperatures. By the time a cold front passes a conventional three coat system is already saturated and then it fractures swells as the water contained in it freezes. Stucco link

Aluminum wiring -

Aluminum wiring, used in some homes from the mid 1960's to the early 1970's, is a potential fire hazard. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fires and even deaths have been reported to have been caused by this hazard. Problems due to expansion can cause overheating at connections between the wire and devices (switches and outlets) or at splices. CPSC research shows that "homes wired with aluminum wire manufactured before 1972 are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach "Fire Hazard Conditions" than are homes wired with copper. "Post 1972" aluminum wire is also a concern. Introduction of the aluminum wire "alloys" in 1972 time frame did not solve most of the connection failure problems. Aluminum wiring is still permitted and used for certain applications, including residential service entrance wiring and single-purpose higher amperage circuits such as 240V air conditioning or electric range circuits. Aluminum Wiring defined. Aluminum Wiring links.

Federal Pacific "Stab lock" Service Panels-

Information exploring the background of possible hazards associated with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-lok circuit breakers and service panels. Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panels and breakers are a latent hazard and can fail, leading to electrical fires. The problem is that some double-pole (240-Volt) FPE circuit breakers and possibly also some single-pole units simply may not work and could pose a fire hazard. FPC links. FPE pdf file

Zinsco Electrical Panels -

Some common beliefs in the electrical community concerning Zinsco Panels are that the attachment spring was sometimes looser than it should have been for full contact; the aluminum bars changed physically to a less conductive and "coated" or oxidized state once overheated (or even heated); and the breaker style seemed to trap heat near the attachment screws or at the attachment clip, damaging nearby breakers as well as the overheating breaker. These issues have resulted in what some people to believe is a higher than normal failure rate. Zinsco panels are no longer manufactured.

Component Life spans - Guideline as to how long different components should last. Component Guideline lifespan pdf file.

Material copied with permission from

Jerry Yost