Problem in the Pipes: West Miramar homeowners frustrated about recent leaks in copper pipes

(WSVN) - A leaky pipe is usually a minor problem for homeowners, but for residents in one Broward community, it has turned into a major issue. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek has his special assignment report: Problem in the Pipes.

Calling a plumber to fix a leaky pipe is a rare occurrence for most homeowners, but Victor Victores calls his plumber every year.

Victor Victores, homeowner: “Something’s either wrong with the pipes, or something’s wrong with the water.”

Victor moved into his Miramar house after it was built in 1995.

He never had any serious problems until five years ago when a pipe in a bathroom sprung a leak.

Over the next four years, there were three more leaks. The most serious one happened in the kitchen.

Victor Victores: “Cost about $30,000.”

The same thing is going on nearby at John Perez’s house. The first leak happened last summer in the living room.

John Perez, homeowner: “All the pipes had to be replaced.”

A few months later in December, another leak. This time in a wall next to their garage.

Eric Misch, homeowner: “I fear daily that I’m going to wake up to a massive flood.”

In the last three years, another neighbor, Eric Misch, has spent thousands fixing leaks in his home.

This was his kitchen just a few weeks ago.

Eric Misch: “We opened up the ceiling, and in fact, we noticed a big puddle up there. There was a pipe that had several pit marks in it.”

Eric and the others recently discovered through a neighborhood app they aren’t the only ones with leaky pipe problems.

John Perez: “It’s a big group of people. I’m saying hundreds of people.”

The affected houses are here in west Miramar. They all have copper pipes and were built 20 to 25 years ago. The homeowners say the leaks started within the last five to six years.

Victor Victores: “You can see holes. It looks like somebody took a drill and made little punctures in it.”

We called several plumbing companies that service Miramar.

They were all familiar with the issue, but split on the source of the problem.

Some say the homes were simply built with thin copper pipes. Others believe the city’s filtration process could be partially to blame.

Eric Misch: “The city’s using a reverse osmosis system.”

The city tells 7News that it added a reverse osmosis system at the west water treatment plant in 2010.

Some of the plumbers we spoke to say that type of filtration system can make water acidic and accelerate corrosion of copper pipes.

Eric Misch: “When you start seeing these kinds of patterns, you know there’s an underlying issue. There’s a systemic issue.”

We took the homeowners’ concerns to the city.

They say corrosion and water quality tests were performed and “Miramar’s water quality complies with all parameters of Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s regulations. As a practical matter, pipe leaks can be caused by a myriad of factors other than water quality. Therefore, a pipe leak does not mean that the city should be held responsible…”

A homeowner recently filed suit against the city, and “the court dismissed the resident pipe leak claims with prejudice.”

Eric Misch: “I do feel like there needs to be some type of restitution for our loss.”

The homeowners are faced with a big decision: replace the remaining copper pipes in their homes now or wait until there’s another leak.

Victor is closely watching this pipe that’s showing signs of corrosion.

Victor Victores: “It looks like I have a current leak. Something’s happening here. I got water.”

So, he thinks he’ll be facing yet another big bill to fix the problem in the pipes.

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