Beach family buys home, finds sewer pipe leaking into living room wall


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Matthew Muniz and his family in Virginia Beach live in a house that’s divided.

The barrier is floor-to-ceiling plastic that separates the living room from the rest of the home.

In the living room, the carpet is rolled back from a wall in the area near a brand new drain and sewer pipe that comes down from the second level.

The problem was the old pipe.

Muniz said he, his pregnant wife and two children were planning to spend a lot of time in the room as he pulled down a zipper that serves as the “entrance” to the quarantined space.

“From the moment I get off work to the moment I go to sleep,” he said of the plans to spend time in the living room. “The kids, we watch TV. My wife, she plops on the couch, she’s pregnant: ‘Hey, I need ice cream. Hey, can you run to the store and get a Snickers?'”

They bought the $450,000 home on Pine View Avenue eight weeks ago. Earlier this month, Muniz noticed some moisture in the wall and called a contractor friend to look at it.

“He literally pushed his fingers through the wall. It was that easy. He started ripping down the entire wall,” Muniz said.

They had discovered a five-foot crack in the cast iron pipe sewer running from top to bottom.

His carpet, floor, and walls were all damaged with dirty water and mold. Their State Farm homeowners insurance sent out an adjuster.

“His opinion was that this had to have been covered up for months to a possible 13 years,” Muniz said.

State Farm denied the claim, saying it was a pre-existing condition in the house the family just purchased.

Muniz had a home inspection and a termite and moisture inspection prior to closing. Now he has a $15,000 repair bill, a $900 hotel bill from when the family had to leave their home, and no idea when the main room of their house will be back to normal.

“This is where the kids were gonna wake up and open their presents,” he said.

10 On Your Side reached out to State Farm to see if the company would reconsider, and a public affairs representative gave us this statement:

“While we are unable to speak to the specifics of any claim(s) due to customer privacy reasons, we can share in general terms that when a policyholder has a claim, applicable coverage is determined according to each individual customer’s policy and any endorsements the customer may have added to their policy. We can also share that, in general, in instances of water losses, if it is determined there is seepage or leakage of water, steam, or sewage that occurs over a period of time and is continuous, repeating, gradual, intermittent, slow or trickling; for example, the claim may not be covered.”

– State Farm spokesperson

Global Pest Services of Chesapeake did the pest and moisture inspection on the home in August. The company says it did perform some repair work, but it was not adjacent to the area where the pipe was leaking. However, its report says it installed new insulation throughout the crawlspace.

Muniz is deciding whether to file a lawsuit — and, if so, who he will sue.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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