Firm-Wide blog

Sprinkler System Floods New Home

By Burg Simpson
October 27, 2017
3 min read

Imagine that, after years of working hard and saving every penny, you are able to buy the home of your dreams. Now imagine waking up in that home to a nightmare.

That is what happened to one Castle Rock family during the summer of 2017. They woke in the middle of the night to find that a large section of the fire sprinkler pipe installed above their kitchen ceiling had burst, unleashing hundreds or thousands of gallons of water into their home. The pipe, made of CPVC plastic and filled with a water-antifreeze solution, cracked and split open, causing the water-antifreeze solution and then just water to pour out of the ceiling. By the time the homeowners reached a valve in the basement to shut off the water supply, enough water and water-antifreeze solution had escaped that the ductwork hanging from the basement ceiling was bulging from the weight of liquid trapped inside the ducts after flowing into vents in and near the kitchen. The water and water-antifreeze solution also covered countertops, appliances, the kitchen floor, and spread across the floor into nearby areas of the main floor. A fair amount of the water and water-antifreeze solution also made its way into the basement.

Throughout the following day, in addition to removing the standing water and water-antifreeze solution on the main floor and in the basement, emergency remediation crews had to remove a significant portion of the kitchen ceiling to expose the broken pipe, remove most of the kitchen floor and dining area tiles, remove baseboard trim and about a foot of the drywall at the bottom of the walls around the entire kitchen and adjacent rooms, and set up dehumidifiers and fans to begin drying out the affected ceilings, walls, floors, finishes and structural components. Since the night the pipe burst, the entire area has been tented off with plastic, leaving the owners without any real use of the main floor of their home, including their entire kitchen.

Later, while a fire sprinkler contractor was removing sections of the CPVC piping from various areas of the main floor and basement, he discovered that the piping was breaking off in his hand whenever he applied the slightest pressure to it. Cracking on the interior surface of the piping that extends through the CPVC material toward the pipe’s outer surface is obvious to the naked eye in multiple sections of the pipe that have been removed.

Initial analysis by a CPVC expert indicates that the antifreeze used by the builder and its fire sprinkler contractor is incompatible with the CPVC, causing the CPVC to become extremely brittle and susceptible to spontaneous breakage due only to the pressure applied by the water-antifreeze solution within the piping.

If your home has suffered similar damage, or if you have detected any signs of leakage in your home’s fire sprinkler system, speak to an experienced construction defects lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Call Burg Simpson at 303-792-5595 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation here.

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