Polybutylene pipes

What is Polybutylene ?

Polybutylene was an economical and simple solution to the aluminum building boom in the mid-1975’s and was initially a popular choice for low-cost construction projects. They offered easy to install home plumbing means on millions of houses with the thinking that they’d outlast other pipe materials. Unfortunately, despite their low cost and long life span, polybutylene pipes started showing their age.

The polybutylene pipes problem has been brought to the attention of home inspectors and plumbers who can now identify and repair common plumbing issues with polybutylene pipes. Leaks are particularly difficult to locate and repair, as they’re often hidden inside the main water heater or connected to it via a small pipe, such as the main water tap.

Is polybutylene pipe safe for drinking water?

Polybutylene pipes The material is not very resistant to wear, and wears down over time. Eventually it breaks down completely, requiring complete replacement. To detect whether your polybutylene pipes have begun breaking down, run a part per million test on the inside diameter of each pipe joint, or apply a one percent solution of calcium thioglycolate to a small area.

These pipes have likely seen better days, and probably need to be replaced. Unfortunately, this means that many older homes will need to be demolished, which will make finding replacement plumbing fairly difficult. Your best bet for locating these pipes is to contact a local licensed plumber. These experienced professionals will be familiar with both new and old polybutylene pipes, and can help locate exactly where they’re located.

What inspectors look for home inspection?

The inspectors will tell you that one of the first places they look when inspecting any home is around its exterior doors and windows. They are highly visible, and polybutylene pipes usually end up on the outside of the home. The reason is simple

A polybutylene plumbing is used exclusively inside the home, so home inspectors are very familiar with its presence. It’s also easy for them to see the condition of your existing plumbing, since it will most likely be sitting outside.

Should I be worried about polybutylene pipes?

Any time there is a significant buildup of moisture, or a buildup of any other type of hazardous substance, it’s dangerous for anyone to use. For example, mold can often cause serious health issues in people, and is particularly dangerous to those with respiratory problems.

When polybutylene pipes come into contact with such dangerous substances, their internal components can become damaged, and start to release dangerous chemicals into the air. It can be dangerous for you, your family, and your home to ignore these dangers.

Do I have to replace my polybutylene pipes?

It’s smart for you to keep your polybutylene pipes and copper plumbing properly maintained. While most people think of a few joints here and there as needing maintenance, the truth is that your entire plumbing system will need to be checked at least once a year, and especially once each major plumbing job has been completed.

The polybutylene pipes may break free, causing massive amounts of water damage. This is typically what’s referred to as a ‘dry socket,’ because the pipe breaks off within the water supply. The resulting mess will likely be a very tight, very dirty stream, and you must work quickly to ensure that your home’s water supply is safe.