A Guide to Polybutylene Piping

While polybutylene (PB) piping was once touted as a durable, cost-efficient plumbing solution, its perils are now becoming apparent. If a home is equipped with this type of plumbing, it’s only a matter of time until there’s a leak. In the sections below, customers can learn about PB piping and how to tell if it’s in their home.

What is PB Plumbing?

During the end of the 1970s, PB piping was promoted as the plumbing solution for the future because it was flexible, inexpensive, freeze-resistant, and simple to install. However, the chlorine in municipal water supplies started to erode the pipes from the inside out, and burst pipes have caused destruction in homes around the country. Production was halted in 1996 after countless lawsuits were filed alleging property damage from ruptured pipes.

The Hidden Expenses

There are multiple hidden costs related to PB piping, including a decreased home resale value. Additionally, some homeowners may find it difficult or impossible to get insurance, or that coverage may not be available for claims related to leaking PB pipes. A homeowner whose home is equipped with this type of plumbing must pay to have it upgraded or risk a costly and catastrophic plumbing failure.

How to Detect PB Plumbing

PB pipe can be blue, black, gray, or white, but not all pipes in these colors are PB. The best way to check is to hire a plumber for an in-depth evaluation. Many PB installations are disguised with copper fittings at the very ends, which makes them even harder to detect. These dishonest installations are a good reason to hire a plumbing professional for an inspection.

When PB Plumbing Should be Replaced

Most PB piping fails at the 10-15 year mark. While it’s impossible to determine when it will fail, it’s inevitable. A pipe that hasn’t shown any signs of an issue can rupture at any time. If a home is equipped with this piping, the right time for replacement is now.

PB piping can lead to costly and extensive plumbing damage even if the system shows no outward signs of trouble. If a homeowner believes they’re dealing with PB plumbing, they should call for professional help as soon as possible.