Recurring Product Problems

Recently, we have been engaged to investigate failures of products that we have seen in the past. The first product that has been reencountered is the In Sink Erator water filter, model F201R. This filter is part of an In Sink Erator, under sink, hot water dispensing system. On two separate occasions, the water filter housing was found to have been cracked on the bottom. In both situations, the water filter had been in use for between 0 and 5 years. Obviously, if the resulting water leakage is not immediately stopped, there can be a substantial amount of damage to floors, cabinets, walls, carpets, and furniture. Although the water filter housing appears to have been made of some type of plastic material, the properties of the material remain unknown. As a result, an engineering analysis of the stresses involved cannot be completed. However, it also appears that that the major contributor of the stress is the water pressure to which the interior surface of the filter is subjected. The shape of the water filter is simlilar to a bell and the stress causing the failure appears aas a crack on the bottom side, approximately 2 to 3 inches long. When viewed microscopically, smaller stress cracks are visible along the main crack.

We have also recently encountered another instance where PEX piping has been used in the plumbing system of a residence and leaked. This subject was covered in earlier blog post of July 21, 2012 and January 8, 2013. PEX piping is known to fail when exposed to certain levels of chlorine and ultraviolet light. Manufactures say that the levels of chlorine in city water supplies are too low to cause the failures. However, there is no way to be sure that plumbers are taking precautions to keep the pipe out of the sunlight when traveling between jobs. Regardless of the cause, the failures are most notably occurring when the lines are installed in the hot water supply lines leading from the water heater into the home. We are also seeing failures that occur when the pipe has been in use for less than 10 years.

Earlier this past week, we received a phone call from a builder in Houston Texas about a failed Vortens toilet tank, see news entry entitled “Toilet Tank Failures” on our website Apparently, a tank had failed in an upscale residence and caused significant damage. According to the builder, it was thought that the housekeeper had broken the tank and would not admit fault. Then however, the builder heard of another instance involving a plumber friend and began to question the cause. That’s when the article about the Vortens toilet tanks was found on our website. All this to say that some Vorten’s tanks are still out there and at least two were in the Houston area.

About R.J. Hill, P.E.
R. J. Hill is the author of two blogs: R.J. Hill Consulting and the Descendants of James Alexander Hill. Mr. Hill is a registered professional (mechanical) engineer with 42 years of experience, 37 years in private practice. Please visit to see the kinds of forensic investigations that Mr. Hill performs.

3 Responses to Recurring Product Problems

  1. Gemma says:

    I couldn’t get the link to come up about the builder in Houston. I would love to find out which builder it was because we are in Houston and had this happen 6 weeks ago. Our home is almost finished with the repairs, but it has been a long process. A Vortens toilet tank split in half on our 2nd floor and took out at least 1/3 of our home….we were gone when the split happened….and only for about 2 1/2 hrs, so I would’ve hate to have seen what would have happened if we were gone longer. Thank you for your help!


  2. Robert Disney says:

    I am the latest victim of a cracked tank. My neighbor checked in on my house while we were in Colorado Springs. On Christmas day we got a phone call that the entire first floor was under water. I called Servpro who showed up within a couple of hours. They pumped over 800 gallons. My house was built in 2011. There were 3 cracks which propagated from the hole where you mount the flush handle. My insurance company was very helpful but here I sit in a hotel on new years day waiting to find a fully furnished house for my kids for the next 3 months all because the builder of my $450k house was too cheap to use a quality tank. I hope my insurance company dues Vortens for negligence.


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