Source of damage at heart of homeowner's dispute - Tucson News Now

Source of damage at heart of homeowner's dispute

Ryan says a water leak from a burst pipe caused his entire home to shift. Ryan says a water leak from a burst pipe caused his entire home to shift.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A Tucson man says his home is imploding in slow motion due to a type of plumbing that's known to fail.  The bigger problem is his homeowners insurance won't cover the damages.

First it was a few cracks, then uneven door jams, and finally the ceiling gave way in not one but two locations.

"Our claims adjuster told me at that time, ‘Don't worry, you're covered,'" homeowner Dan Ryan said.

Ryan says a pipe had burst and sprang a water leak causing his entire home to shift.

Ryan received a letter from American Family Insurance.  In it a claims adjuster says "a polybutelene plumbing pipe had failed" and the water leak combined with "expansive soils found under the foundation" caused the damage.  The letter says the policy does not cover damages resulting from "earth movement, settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging, or expansion of pavements, patios, foundations, walls, floors, roofs, or ceilings."

"We were absolutely stunned," Ryan said.  He insists the problem isn't earth movement but the polybutelene pipes.  It's a type of plastic pipe that was used in homes from 1978 through 1995.  PB pipes were the center of a now-expired class action lawsuit where manufacturers took the pipes off the market and paid settlements.

In an email from American Family Insurance, media relations representative Sandra Spann wrote, "We don't have a policy for those pipes in particular.  We handle each claim on its own."

She declined an interview.

In the meantime Ryan and his wife have been staying in a hotel.  They've hired a lawyer in hopes someone will help them salvage their home.

He said it's, "Heartbreaking, distressing, disappointing to know that a fellow person or people could do this when they know they can take care of this."

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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