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What is Polybutylene Piping?

What is Polybutylene Piping?

Does Your Home Have Poly?

If your home was built between the years of 1978 and 1995, you may very well have had polybutylene piping installed. At the time, you were promised great things; it works just as well as previous piping systems, but it’s low cost and easy to install. You couldn’t ask for better! After a while though, your beautiful new home started springing leaks. First you noticed a slow drip under the kitchen sink. Then, before you know it, there’s a water stain above your dining room table. And then a pipe bursts! The damage costs you more than you could ever begin to imagine. The piping needs replacement, the drywall needs to be cut out, and the building structure itself has even been damaged. Worst of all, the personal belongings you’ve lost are irreplaceable.

What is Polybutylene?

When polybutylene was first discovered, it was thought to be the next great advance for plumbing pipes and fixtures. The piping is a form of plastic resin that was used extensively for water supply piping between the years of 1978 and 1995. It’s estimated that 1 out of 5 homes had polybutylene piping installed within the years of manufacturing. It was thought to be a resilient product, but soon thereafter proved to be exactly the opposite.

The Dangers

Over time, polybutylene piping loses its strength and becomes brittle, sometimes even scaling or flaking. Micro-fractures result and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. It’s believed that the oxidants in water, such as chlorine, are what cause polybutylene to break down and lose its resilience.

Throughout the 1980’s, lawsuits were filed complaining of defective manufacturing of polybutylene piping. It caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and although the manufacturers never admitted to it being defective, they agreed to a Class Action Settlement. Therefore, polybutylene piping is no longer accepted by the United States or Canadian building codes.

How to Tell If You Have Polybutylene Piping

Polybutylene piping can generally be found by looking at the exposed piping in your home. This can be found near the water heater, running across the ceiling in unfinished basements, and feeding sinks and toilets. It’s typically gray or white in color with a dull finish.

Note: Some plumbers used copper “stub outs” when installing polybutylene piping. That means that you could see copper where the piping exits the wall to feed a fixture, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe from polybutylene piping.

What You Should Do

No matter what the case is, the wisest thing to do is to replace your polybutylene piping immediately. It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s going to burst, it’s a question of ‘when.’ Because poly deteriorates from the inside, there is no way of knowing when it’s going to start leaking or split under pressure. Therefore, it’s extremely difficult to determine the condition of polybutylene piping simply from looking at it. Most home inspectors cannot give a reliable assessment unless there’s already a visible problem. When a leak occurs, you not only have to replace the piping (which would’ve prevented the issue in the first place), but you could easily be left with thousands of dollars in damages - Furniture, personal belongings, appliances, etc. As noted earlier, the structural integrity of your home could even be compromised!

It’s best to replace polybutylene piping before it fails. It will not only save you from leaks and damage in the future, but it will even increase your homes market value and ability to sell. It could also open up the possibility of receiving home insurance. Most insurance companies refuse to insure a home with polybutylene piping anymore due to the high risk factor.

Repiping

With Aztec Plumbing, the repipe process is easy and efficient. Our office will handle all of the permit and inspection paperwork so that you can be sure it’s being handled in the most effective manner. We pride ourselves in being the #1 repipe specialists and can complete most repipe jobs in only one day! After the repipe is completed, you will receive a city inspection as well as a walk through with one of Aztec Plumbing’s technicians to make sure everything is in proper working order. We even have an amazing sheetrock subcontractor who will repair the holes, match the existing texture, and leave the walls ready to be painted!

You deserve quality work and exceptional customer service when it comes to repiping your home. You deserve Aztec Plumbing.

Call us today at (239) 542-2284 and we would be happy to send a technician to your property to provide you with a free repipe estimate!

Categories: plumbing tips.