Do You Have Old Polybutylene Piping in Your Home?

If you home was built in the 1970s, 80s or 90s, there is a good possibility that the pipes in your home for plumbing were made from polybutylene. This piping was an economical option that was used for decades for interior and exterior plumbing. The pipe is known for its blue or gray color, and also for its unreliable nature. Unfortunately, after this piping was used in the building of thousands of homes, it was pulled from the market. If you have this piping still in your home, you could be facing possible plumbing problems. 

Polybutylene Piping Problems

The issue with polybutylene is the material reacts with chlorine that is in many city water supplies. This reaction causes the pipes to corrode and weaken. Over time, the pipes can begin to leak, or worse, rupture and cause substantial water damage to homes. Due to this major issue, the manufacturers of the piping were forced to stop making the product and were required to pay billions of dollars in damages to homeowners. 

So what should you do if you still have this piping in your home? The best solution is to have the piping replaced before it begins to leak or bursts. Water damage is an expensive home repair. It can ruin walls, flooring, ceilings and cause mold issues throughout the home. It is a wise investment to replace this piping before it becomes a much larger and more expensive problem.

If you are concerned that there may be polybutylene piping in your home, call your local plumber for an inspection of your pipes. Your plumber can offer solutions for replacing any old polybutylene piping with new safer piping options.

Posted on behalf of:
Bynum & Sons Plumbing, Inc.
2120 McDaniels Bridge Rd SW
Lilburn, GA 30047
(770) 736-8283

Identifying Polybutylene Plumbing

Polybutylene is a type of pipe that was used for the interior plumbing systems in millions of homes built between 1970 and 1995.  Estimates vary, but somewhere between 6 million and 10 million homes were built during this period with polybutylene plumbing.  Polybutylene was used for the interior water distribution lines throughout the house.  In addition, it was often used for the water supply line from the municipal water main to the house.  It was not used for drain lines or sewer lines.

Polybutylene pipe was popular because it was inexpensive, easy to work with, corrosion resistant and seemed to be very durable.  Unfortunately, it was discovered that polybutylene pipe reacted with chlorine in the public drinking water supplies and became brittle.  After a few years, the pipes would develop fractures and begin to leak.

However, some homes have never had a problem with their polybutylene pipes. One challenge of polybutylene is that it is impossible to tell if a pipe is about to fail by visual inspection.  There is some indication that some polybutylene pipe leaks were caused by improper installation techniques, but again a visual inspection will not reveal whether the installation was proper.

To be sure whether or not you have polybutylene pipes in your home, you need to be able to see the piping.  In some homes, copper stubs were used to connect faucets, toilets, and other fixtures.  The short copper pipes were connected to polybutylene hidden in the walls, floors and ceilings.  The same can be true for polybutylene water service lines.  A short section of copper pipe was used where the lien enters the home and the rest of the line buried in the yard is polybutylene.

Interior polybutylene is usually gray, but can be white or black. Exterior polybutylene used for water service is usually blue, but can be gray or black.  If you suspect you have polybutylene pipes in your home, talk to a plumber who specializes in polybutylene pipe replacement.  He or she can confirm whether or not your pipes are polybutylene and help you understand your options.