Monthly Archives: December 2011

Hazards of Polybutylene Piping

When buying a house, checking it inside and out is very important. One thing that should be on the list is plumbing. In the plumbing area ask or check for polybutylene pipes. Having that installed may not be a problem now but it will be.

Polybutylene pipes are a resin-made type of plastic pipe. It has a gray color inside the house and a gray, black or blue color outside. It is between .5 and 1 inch in diameter. It was manufactured in 1978. Homes before 1995 have polybutylene pipes installed but it became the most popular in the 1980’s. It was inexpensive to make and easy to install because of its flexibility. These pipes are in about 10 million homes/properties mostly located in the Sun Belt region, the Pacific Northwest, and the Mid-Atlantic States.

In the inside of the house the pipes start in the basement ceilings and enter the water heater. Also check the pipes under the toilet, sinks, and bathrooms. On the outside the pipes start on the basement walls and attach to the shutoff valve and/or the water meter.

One hazard caused by these polybutylene pipes is when the pipes start to break or tear apart inside. That comes in the way of corrosion. When the water faucet pipe erodes the chlorine or other chemicals in the water wears down the structure of the pipes causing the breaking/tearing. With continued deterioration cracks scales and holes is visible. By the time a leak is seen it’s too late; the damage has been done to homes and businesses. The next hazard is incorrect installation. Installing these pipes may be easy but it requires special equipment to secure it in properly. Without the special equipment the pipe might not be as sturdy as it should be. Another hazard is old pipes. The older the pipes the more chance of a problem occurring. Mold on the pipes can also occur. Any one of these severe problems can take as much as 10-15 years to be noticed with the human eye. All of these hazards can happen without warning.

Insurance companies will not cover damages done to the home with these pipes installed. Selling the house will be hard to do because polybutylene pipes are not reliable plumbing. Lawsuits have been filed and settled as a result of polybutylene pipes. If a polybutylene pipe is found get rid of it now.