Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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Plumbing problems may continue to grow

Plumbing failures in Southern Nevada may be more universal than the problem of just one system.

Already in the midst of a lawsuit regarding the Kitec plumbing system, Pulte Homes and its subsidiary Del Webb are investigating potential problems with Wirsbo brass fittings in some of its Sun City Anthem communities.

The Wirsbo fittings were installed in the majority of homes built between October 2005 and February 2008 in the Desert Sky, Shadow Canyon and Black Mountain communities, according to a letter Pulte sent to homeowners.

Pulte is offering to replace the Wirsbo yellow brass fittings with Wirsbo red brass fittings.

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and comes in a variety of types based on its composition.

Yellow brass typically has about 30 percent zinc. When the yellow brass is exposed to Southern Nevada's mineral-rich hard water, the zinc is removed and builds up inside the pipes leading to blockages and breaks, according to court documents in the Kitec lawsuit. The process is called dezincification.

Red brass typically has 5 percent to 10 percent zinc and is being used to replace the yellow brass in valley homes built by Richmond American and Pulte.

Jacque Petrolakis, a spokeswoman for Pulte, said the company is awaiting test results and additional inspections before it decides on a replacement plan for the Wirsbo fittings.

"We're taking a very proactive step here but we have not had significant issues with these brass fittings," she said. "We want to conduct inspections to determine possible future, if there are any, dezincification issues with the product."

Pulte has had issues with Rehau brand yellow brass fittings also.

Wirsbo was founded in 1620 forging steel and weapons for the King of Sweden, according to the company's Web site. Wirsbo changed its name to Uponor in 2006 but still sells products under the former name. Uponor, Inc. is headquartered in Apple Valley, Minn.

Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or [email protected].

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