Polybutylene Pipes: What You Should Know

For homeowners with properties built between the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, there is a very real concern about polybutylene pipes. Widely used in the construction of residential homes during this period, polybutylene pipes have been shown to have a high failure rate under even normal operating conditions. Such was the extent of the problem that a class action lawsuit was filed in 1995, and still stands as one of the largest in United States history. If you own or are considering the purchase of a home built during this time period, there are some important facts you should know.

Structural Compromise

Chemicals commonly found in public water supplies, like chlorine and other oxidants, dramatically reduce the structural integrity of polybutylene pipes. Use of incorrect fittings was widespread, further complicating the integrity of the piping. Because it’s not possible to accurately assess the condition of polybutylene piping simply by looking at it, deterioration occurs internally and is difficult to detect. By the time leaks become apparent, they’re almost always considered an indicator of complete, system-wide pipe failure.

Solving a Polybutylene Piping Issue

If your home still contains polybutylene piping, there is an almost certain chance you will face failure or widespread leaks at some point. In fact, the only real way to avoid potentially devastating damage and expensive repairs is to have the entire potable water system in your home re-piped. Almost all professional plumbers will suggest complete polybutylene pipe replacement over repairs, which is only a short-term fix for a long-term problem. A temporary repair may stave off failure for a short while, but putting off the replacement of polybutylene pipes can have catastrophic consequences for your home.

If you suspect your home may be fitted with polybutylene pipes, contact a licensed and experienced plumber in your area to set up an evaluation. Setting up an inspection and following through with replacement in the event of polybutylene piping discovery is the most effective way of protecting your home and possessions from water damage due to pipe failure.

Posted on behalf of Shawn Bynum, Bynum Plumbing

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