Polybutylene Plumbing what is it

Polybutylene Plumbing what is it?

Polybutylene plumbing was used extensively in the United States from 1978 and mid-1995 as a cost-effective alternative to traditional copper piping. While it was initially thought to be a durable and long-lasting option, over time, issues with the material began to arise. As a result, many homeowners with polybutylene plumbing have faced costly repairs and replacements.

There are two basic types of polybutylene, one is the supply or yard line from the street or well and the other are the distribution lines that supply the fixtures throughout the house.

The supply line is identified by its light blue color and is prone to failure from ne and sunlight during exterior storage. The distribution lines are typically gray in color with various connections some of these have a history of failure due to improper installation as well as water quality concerns.

Some of these connections and materials were in a few class action lawsuits which have all been sunsetted. When the homeowner becomes aware of the presence it is advisable to obtain estimates for replacement which would include the expense of opening the walls and ceiling installing the new plumbing and then closing the wall and ceiling coverings back.

There are a few types of plumbing to consider beginning with the supply line copper and Polyethylene (PE) are the most common. Sometimes a slitter chase cable opens the polybutylene which the new copper is pulled through. Other times the yard may have to be excavated. When running through a slab floor additional complications and considerations you will to discuss with your plumber.

For the distribution lines, PEX, CPVC, and copper are the most common choices to replace polybutylene throughout the house. Be sure all work has building permits obtained where required and all work should be performed by a licensed plumbing contractor.

Some other considerations are many insurance companies may not want to insure a house with polybutylene or requires replacement. During a real estate transaction as a seller, you may need to consider if this is a disclosure use and consult with your real estate agent.

Stephen Lee Showalter, NACHI® CMI, ASHI ACI
Home Inspector, Environmental Consultant
Maryland State Home Inspector License #29634 
ASHI ACI Certified Membership
NACHI® CMI Certified Master Inspector
InterNACHI® CPI Certified Membership
Certified Commercial Property Inspector Association
FAA Certified UAS Pilot #3987636
CRT Certified Residential Thermographer

Showalter Property Consultants providing quality home inspections and environmental testing throughout Maryland since 1988. For a quality home inspection contact us on schedule online.

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