Topic: PEX destroyed by insect: Western Conifer Pine Bug

Uponor (maker of Wirsbo Aquapex) sent us a letter stating that a weeping section of their product was pierced by the Western Conifer Pine Bug (WCPB)

They commissioned a study on this very issue in 2005.

Our house was built in 2007.  This insect is native to the western USA (we live in Oregon), but has spread to the east coast.

My intent is to make everyone aware of this vulnerability.  It comes at great expense to us: Uponor refuses to honor the warranty.

Re: PEX destroyed by insect: Western Conifer Pine Bug

Hi Whatizit,
Welcome to the forum...

After reading your post I located numerous claims that PEX tubing can be damaged by the Western Conifer Pine Bug, these claims were made on everything from Plumbing Forums to Wikipedia, and all of those claims were made citing a single study listed below:

Damage to common plumbing materials caused by overwintering Leptoglossus occidentalis (Hemiptera: Coreidae)
Sarah L. Bates 1
Department of Entomology, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, 630 West North Street, Geneva, New York 14456, United States of America
1 Present address: BIOCAP Canada Foundation, Queen’s University, 156 Barrie Street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6

Would you care to add any information, pictures, correspondence with Uponor, etc. regarding the damage to your home and the plumbing system?

I would expect that damage by a pest in the home would not be covered by any manufacturer of wiring or, plumbing materials, but rather the expectation would be that the home is kept past free to avoid damage. A similar instance would be if a rodent gnawed through the insulation on wires or, gnawed through a plastic pipe the expectation would be that you keep the rodents from entering the home and exterminated them if their presence was noted. I would not expect a manufacturer to assume any product liability.

That said, I find this interesting and would appreciate any additional information you may have on the subject.
One of the things I would be very interested in is any additional information on what would make one home more vulnerable than others, any thing that would attract them to a home, where the damage occurred and if there is any location in a home that is more vulnerable. One of the things plumbers try to do is use the right material in the right location to avoid the possibility of failure. Any additional information you can provide will be appreciated.

Re: PEX destroyed by insect: Western Conifer Pine Bug

Hello Redwood,

Yes, it seems the Sarah L. Bates study is the only one addressing this topic.  The name of the insect is the Western Conifer *Seed* Bug.  I had called it the Western Conifer Pine Bug in error. 

I'd say the construction of our house is typical.  Hardie Board Siding, sheet rock walls, insulation, etc. I don't know what type of insulation we have, but it's the yellow fibrous stuff that comes in rolls. The pipe is Wirsbo Aquapex.  We live in a pine forest in North Central Oregon at 1500 feet elevation. The damage occurred inside an exterior wall on the second floor.

There were no insects or evidence of insects (other than the leaking pipe) in the deconstructed ceiling or walls.  Our house is by no means infested with insects, but I've yet to see a home that is 100% insect free.  The house sits atop a crawl space through which most of our plumbing runs.  Somehow I doubt any crawl space is insect-free.

Our letter from Uponor references the Bates study (remember, Uponor funded that study) and says the damage to our pipe is consistent with that caused by the Western Conifer Seed Bug.  They did not say it "was" caused by an insect nor did they say how many holes they found. 

I am fascinated by the dilemma Uponor faces over this.  They have a known (suspected?) vulnerability that they don't seem to want to make public (or rectify).  When the damage occurs, however, they have this study they can pull from their back pocket. 

If one microscopic hole from one common insect can cause so much damage, perhaps Uponor needs to rethink the product or at least their marketing areas.  They've had since 2005 to ponder this.  As an aside, I am not completely convinced that the damage was in fact caused by an insect. It just doesn't add up for me.  Unfortunately for us the section of pipe was sent to Uponor never again to be seen by us. 

Thanks so much for responding!