Is there California law regarding asbestos testing before plumber can inspect a leak?

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GTN

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a week after moving into a 1973 year built house in Costa Mesa California, a leak was noted in the wall. A couple days goes by before Home warranty program sent local plumber out and he looked at the wet wall for a couple seconds and walked out saying we need asbestos testing first before he could even punch a hole in the drywall to check the pipe. He said EVERY house older than 1989 needs this first. (Would take a few days). He didn’t do anything and him and home warranty program are trying to get paid. I feel scammed because if that was policy/law, why did they not reveal that requirement when the visit was scheduled. A couple hours later I get a very pushy stranger guy call and offer to estimate water damage costs. Of course no testing or abatement of asbestos would be covered by warranty program.

We called other plumbers who denied this was a law. Does anyone out there know if it is a law? All I can find talking to people I know in the industry and reading online literature is if there needs to be demo over 100 square feet or so then that may be needed. Mine was a small residential leak. I offered to open the wall myself but he refused. It turned out to be a pinhole in the copper and another plumber fixed it as soon as he came out, no questions asked.

I’m fighting the charge. If anyone can help please let me know
 

FishScreener

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Just a guess, but I would venture that the California Attorney General’s Office has a consumer protection division, that will know the answer.
 

Jeff Handy

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Home warranty companies usually hire the lowest bidders, regardless of reviews or reputation, or newbies with no clientele, anyone who has a heartbeat and works cheap.

Just like when you have towing or road hazard insurance, and when you call for help they send some toothless chucklehead from 30 or 50 miles away, they don’t care if you wait for hours, they cross their fingers and hope you will get back on the road for the least cost. Same for your plumbing issues.
 

GTN

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Home warranty companies usually hire the lowest bidders, regardless of reviews or reputation, or newbies with no clientele, anyone who has a heartbeat and works cheap.

Just like when you have towing or road hazard insurance, and when you call for help they send some toothless chucklehead from 30 or 50 miles away, they don’t care if you wait for hours, they cross their fingers and hope you will get back on the road for the least cost. Same for your plumbing issues.
Yea, I suspected so. I just didn’t want to be totally off base in my refusal to pay, but something feels fishy
 

Rickyman

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That pushy stranger that called to estimate water damage and clean up will give the plumber 10% of the total job. That’s probably why the plumber said he can’t open the wall. That 10% is much higher than what a warranty company will pay him to repair the pipe.
 

GTN

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That pushy stranger that called to estimate water damage and clean up will give the plumber 10% of the total job. That’s probably why the plumber said he can’t open the wall. That 10% is much higher than what a warranty company will pay him to repair the pipe.
Right! That’s what my gut was telling me. I’m so sad that there are people like this that prey on people in rough times. ☹
 

GTN

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Update! Today I talked to a higher level customer service person at the home warranty company and gave her the whole sob story. It seemed like she believed me and actually finally waived the service fee and even asked me to send the invoice for the plumber I paid to actually fix the problem. It took a bit of time to get her there but I was surprised she even called me back today I almost didn’t answer the phone thinking it was a scam call. Let’s see what they do about the invoice I sent. I would still like to know if there is a law out there that I haven’t found yet, just for future reference. Thanks for all the comments, makes me feel like I’m not totally crazy for thinking something is up.
 

wood4d

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There is a lead paint law for anything above 10 sf which was making guys get certified for lead paint removal in nj for a while. I was a batchmaker for a local paint manufacturer in the 70's and never heard of any manufacturer who put asbestos in the paint. As far as lead paint goes the locals only cut walls open in small squares to avoid the 10 sf issue. On bigger jobs, plumbers are not carpenters or sheetrockers and we let contractors do the demo.
 

PlumbGate

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Sounds like the plumber was trying to scam you for sure. Hopefully the warranty company will mark him off their list and not use him for any job. You could, as a public service, file an official complaint in your area for whatever agency handle shady business practices.
 

Joe W.

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I just stumbled upon this old thread...as an almost 20 year veteran in the industrial hygiene industry (includes asbestos related work as a certified asbestos consultant in CA), I can tell you that YES IN FACT the work is regulated. Cal/OSHA regulates worker exposure to asbestos regardless of the square footage of material, and in the greater LA area SCAQMD regulates environmental emissions and requires specifically that a survey or testing of the material be done prior to disturbing a suspect asbestos containing material in a structure. Here are a few links:

http://www.aqmd.gov/docs/default-source/compliance/Asbestos-Demolition-/1403-frequently-asked-questions.pdf

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/acru/acruregistration.htm

https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/1529.htm
 

Jedi_Knight

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Yes, it is required and has been for the past several years.
You shouldn't assume the original guy was behaving dishonestly or unprofessionally.
He was probably referring to testing for lead paint (although asbestos is also a OSHA requirement, lead paint is a specific requirement from the EPA)
I am a former piping contractor and recall when these regulations were implemented. In my experience, many contractors were not properly educated on them and they are largely ignored in some areas.
If the plumber had employees and he neglected to check for lead paint or asbestos, he would could be in violation of the law and risk criminal and civil charges, all for a home warranty call that probably doesn't even cover his overhead expenses.

Here is a link to the EPA which explains it: https://www.epa.gov/lead/lead-renovation-repair-and-painting-program
These people renovate homes on television and weren't following the rules and were fined $40,000 so the EPA could make an example out of them: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/us/chip-joanna-gaines-fixer-upper-lead-paint.html

Do you think the plumber should risk a $40,000 fine for the home warranty call?
 
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Sichuan

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I have found that most "home warranties" are absolute garbage and aren't worth 10% of the money paid for them, which is why I'll never purchase a home warranty. Having said that, I favor any law that forces the removal of asbestos.

In 1983 I was sent to a job site with several other company employees to demolish the interior of an "experimental" lab owned by a multinational chemical company, which I will not name. We spent one week demolishing the entire interior of the building. The VERY MINUTE we were done with the demolition we were escorted outside the building, at which time one of the chemical company's employees put a sign on the door that said "NO ADMITTANCE-ASBESTOS DANGER". I was dumbfounded, needless to say, but then again, it's common knowledge that profits will always be more important than the health, safety and welfare of employees. That's just the way it is and it will always be that way unless companies are forced, by law or regulation, to protect employees. No industry will voluntarily and adequately "self-police" itself. Money is the name of the game.
 

bartleyhs

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As a homeowner, every time I have moved into an old house (even if renting), I do lead and asbestos testing on certain surfaces of my home just for my own piece of mind. You can buy the kits at amazon and send them to the lab for analysis. I do old vinyl flooring, popcorn ceilings, attic insulation, paint and soil. The first time I did this was a couple years AFTER we moved into an old house in CA and it turned out it had high levels of lead in the interior paint, and the soil outside where my kids were playing. Since then I do the testing before we actually move in.
 
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