During the inspection on a home we are looking to purchase, our inspector found that chicken wire was being used to hold insulation in between the floor joists in the crawl space. The chicken wire is touching many of the water lines, and where the two metals are touching there is corrosion. At the points where they are touching, there is a very small amount of water. Possibly pinholes, possibly just condensation.

Our inspector says they need replaced, theirs says it's no problem. Who is right?

Here's a photo of one of the worst pipes. enter image description here

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    If it is not leaking now it probably will in the future. Galvanic corrosion is the reason dielectric unions are used when changing from galvanized to copper plumbing. I would stick with your inspectors recommendation. – Ed Beal Aug 9 '16 at 19:36
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    Psst... Ed. Answers go down there. :) – isherwood Aug 9 '16 at 19:55
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    There should be equal concern for that galvanized strap holding the water pipe. – brhans Aug 9 '16 at 19:58
  • Thanks for the replies. @isherwood - I'm not looking for opinions, but an answer about whether or not this pipe will likely fail soon. Since I'm not a plumber, I can't gauge the extent of the damage. – kthornbloom Aug 9 '16 at 20:20
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    @kthornbloom, it's hard for us to make that call from behind a computer. We can however point to the eventual failing due to differential metal corrosion. – Chris Aug 9 '16 at 20:49

If it were my problem, I'd cut the chicken wire clear of the pipe—permanently. A three or four inch gap won't cause any problem with the insulation falling out, and the pipe will help hold it.

The photo is showing advanced galvanic corrosion. The depth of it is not clear, but it is certainly solid leverage for a price reduction to cover replacing the pipes. Which any self-respecting owner should have done years ago.

  • Once the chicken wire is removed, would the pipe continue to corrode on its own since the process has been started, or would that effectively prevent further damage? – kthornbloom Aug 10 '16 at 12:44
  • @kthornbloom: The deterioration will continue for years: some iron (from the chicken wire) is deposited on the copper. – wallyk Aug 10 '16 at 14:12

Obviously, your inspector is aiming to cover both your butts, while the other inspector has an incentive to help sell the house- that's a strike against the sellers' inspector. Moreover, think about when you need to sell the house. Do you want to tell the next buyer it's fine? When can afford to replace it? Chances are, it will need to be replaced eventually... it looks like it's ticking to me.

But since you are asking, you must be doubting your own inspectors' experience or intelligence. Caution is also age related; older people tend to be more cautious, and wiser. Bear that in mind, it's only a tendency. So, do some people work... find out about them. And try to get another opinion from someone who can be there to physically inspect it. Maybe you could get two new inspectors. If they don't agree, then expect to replace the pipe since the owner will not.

Rationally, both inspectors work for themselves of course and have their reputations. Check with BBB and/or Yelp and/or Angie's list, and/or Facebook and/or ask them for references and figure out which guy has the reputation. Pay attention who their clientele is. If the sellers' inspector's clientele is primarily people selling houses, this would make me less apt to believe what he's selling.

  • The sellers inspector has no incentive to sell the house, they'll get paid either way. – Tester101 Aug 10 '16 at 12:02
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    @Tester101 you might think so, but perhaps his clients refer him because he doesn't nitpick. That's why I say look at his clientele. Often decisions that are borderline are subject to mood and politics. Obviously, the pipe is not in great shape, and the new owner will have to deal with it... either by replacing it or explaining it to the next buyer. – Ben Welborn Aug 10 '16 at 12:31

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