Additional Homeowner Information
Offered by Advantech Home Inspections
Polybutylene Pipe ("gray pipe"): Class Action Settlement
Polybutylene pipe is a flexible pipe that was used in water-supply plumbing
systems inside homes from the mid to late Ď70s to the mid Ď90s. The pipe is
often gray but may also be silver or black. If used in underground water service
to your house, it may be blue, gray, or black.
Later corrections to installations (copper fittings) are less problematic.
You can also get more information at the following web sites:
http://www.spencerclass.com, or by calling (800) 490-6997 or (800) 392-7591.
During hot and humid weather, the warm moist air that migrates into the
crawlspaces and through the vents is condensing (turning into water) in the
metal ductwork, duct insulation, floor joists, floor insulation, and the curtain
walls. This water can rust and damage ductwork. The moisture contributes to rot,
mold, mildew, and fungus growth.
Radon, an odorless and colorless gas from decaying uranium, is the second
leading cause of lung cancer. Areas of most concern in North Carolina are Wake
County and the counties to the west of Wake County, particularly the mountainous
areas. More information can be found on our links page.
Stachybotrys atra (pronounced Stack-ee-BOT-ris) is an especially lethal mold. Studies have shown that people with prolonged exposure to this and
other fungi experienced chronic fatigue, loss of balance, irritability, memory
loss, and difficulty of breathing. A 1999 Mayo Clinic study attributed nearly
all the chronic sinus infections afflicting 37 million Americans to mold. Recent
studies also have linked molds to the tripling of the asthma rate over the past
How common are these molds? A 1994 Harvard University study of 10,000 homes
in the United States and Canada found half had "conditions of water damage and
mold associated with the 50 to 100% increase in respiratory symptoms".
When molds grow, itís usually in damp places, behind walls and under floors,
above ceiling tiles or behind shower walls; wherever there are wet cellulose
materials they can feed on, such as wood, ceiling tiles, areas become completely
saturated, thatís when a more lethal mold, such as Stachybotrys, can move in.
New houses are more prone to mold problems than older houses because of
modern home design and materials used, the way insulation can trap moisture
behind walls, and because the airtight construction allows air-conditioning and
heating systems to recirculate contaminated air. However, a bad leak in any
house anywhere in the country can cause a mold problem if not properly taken
care of as soon as possible.
How to Protect your home from Unhealthful Molds:
- Keep water out. Fix any leaks within 24 hours. Drain and dry the
- Be on the lookout for discoloration of walls, ceiling, or anything made of
wood or paper. Mold growth can be almost any color: white, black, green,
- Look behind cabinets or pictures on cold outside walls, where condensation
can occur. Keep furniture away from outside walls.
- Check around air handling units (air conditioners, furnaces) for stagnant
water. Keep these units serviced with regular cleaning of ducts and air
- Be aware of odors. Mildew can be pungent, or "aromatic".
- Know the symptoms of mold-related illness, which can range from chronic
sinus infections and asthma to nosebleeds, extreme fatigue, severe headaches,
dizziness, rashes, and central nervous system problems.
Septic tanks should be pumped every 3 to 5 years depending on usage. Systems
with a pump should be cleaned every year.
Water purity, mold, and radon testing can be done by us for additional
Homes built prior to 1978 probably contain lead-based paint.
Homes containing aluminum branch circuit wiring may need checking by a
licensed electrician. Single-strand aluminum branch circuits may be potential fire hazard.
GFCIs are ultrasentitive anti-shock devices.
Homes with range vent hoods not vented to the outside often set off smoke
Fireplaces, when in use, should be professionally cleaned on a yearly basis.
Ventless fireplaces should be monitored carefully and used sparingly. Be sure to read all directions.