Many realtors and home owners ask me about polybutylene (PB) piping. These are two scary words that are sure to put a frown on any real estate agent’s face. I come across it every few months and this is what it looks like.
According to Polybutylene.com: “Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used extensively in the manufacture of water supply piping from 1978 until 1995. Due to the low cost of the material and ease of installation, polybutylene piping systems were viewed as “the pipe of the future” and were used as a substitute for traditional copper piping. While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in public water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the polybutylene piping and acetal fittings causing them to scale and flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result, and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property. It is believed that other factors may also contribute to the failure of polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is virtually impossible to detect installation problems throughout an entire system.”
I have seen real estate deals go south as soon as I announced that I found PB piping. If you suspect that you have PB piping in your home, you may want to seek counsel from a licensed plumber familiar with PB plumbing to get their expert advice with regard to the supply piping system replacement. Entire neighborhoods and municipalities have been involved with class-action suits against the manufacturers and installers of PB piping over the years with varying degrees of success.