Polybutylene Pipes in Your Home
If your home was built between 1978 and 1995 – you may very well have a plumbing system made out of polybutylene pipes, or “poly pipe.” For almost 20 years, poly pipe was used instead of copper pipe in most underground and interior plumbing systems because it was less expensive and easier to install.
It was discovered that poly pipe begins to degrade at 10 to 15 years, which means that this kind of plumbing will fail at some point in the future. Unfortunately, it’s not a question of “if” a poly pipe plumbing system will leak – it’s a question of “when” – and this can be a truly serious problem for homeowners.
What’s the problem with poly pipe?
Poly pipe actually breaks down as a result of the water that flows through it; the pipe oxidizes and disintegrates as a result of the chlorine in the water. What’s worse is that the pipe deteriorates from the inside; you can’t see the damage. When you look at the pipe it can look perfectly fine – right up until it breaks or leaks. There’s no way to tell where or when the piping will fail, it just fails all at once, without warning.
How much damage can it do?
Because it’s so difficult to detect where poly pipe is having a problem, it’s hard to catch leaks before it’s too late, and if the pipe breaks – it can cause extensive damage. There have been a number of class action lawsuits as a result; the cost of fixing a house can be more than the house is worth. This kind of piping is such a problem that some homeowner’s policies refuse to insure a home that has it. What’s worse is that others have been known to cancel a policy and refuse to pay damages if they are caused by poly piping.
What will poly pipe do to a home?
Poly pipe often does more extensive damage to a home than other types of plumbing material because it’s so difficult to spot a problem before it becomes a problem. The leaks and/or breaks can be larger and more serious, so they often result in more damage, the kind of damage that leads to severe structural problems. Because of this, if your home has poly pipe plumbing, it will bring the value of your home down considerably if you ever decide to sell it. It’s known that a home with poly piping is extremely difficult to market in the real estate world.
How do I tell if I have poly pipe?
Poly pipe is blue, gray, or black – and generally ½ to 1” in diameter. Inside it’s usually blue, and found around water heaters, basement ceilings, and attached to sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. Outside, poly pipe is generally gray, and it’s found entering a home through a basement wall, attached to the water meter, and/or the home’s main water shutoff valve. Sometimes poly pipe was used in combination with a piece of copper piping, and it may not be immediately apparent that you do have poly pipe because of this, so it’s really best to have a licensed plumber in to inspect your plumbing system.
What do I do to fix this?
The only fix for polybutylene piping is to replace it – all of it. When a homeowner hears the word “replace,” they generally panic, but we’d like to tell you that replacing a polybutylene system isn’t as bad – or as expensive – as you think it is. Most of our customers are surprised to learn that a plumbing pipe replacement job is only about $3,000 to $4,000, start to finish, depending on your home’s square footage, floor plan, number of bathrooms, and attic accessibility.
Your home is your largest financial asset, and when it comes to something like this, it’s best to take care of the problem sooner rather than later, because there’s no question that you will have to deal with it at some point anyway. This is a fix that could literally save your home, not just a few thousand dollars.
Replacing your polybutylene pipe is easer than you think!
At Moon Valley Plumbing dealing with “poly problems” is one of our specialties. Replacing the pipes in your plumbing will only take about 2 or 3 days, depending on the size of your home, and we always work with and around your schedule, and at your convenience. We’ll let you know exactly what we’re doing, when, where, and how much it will cost – ahead of time.
One of the things we’re known for is our attention to detail, and the respect we have for our client’s homes. We handle all our “re-plumbs” very carefully; inside we make sure we prep your home, and cover all your furnishings to protect them against dust. Afterwards, we will fix any walls or flooring we’ve had to open, and repair and patch any drywall we’ve disturbed. Outside, we’re considerate of your property and landscaping; we restore whatever we have to move, and – of course – we always clean up after ourselves when we’re finished.
Moon Valley Plumbing has years of experience in dealing with homes that have polybutylene pipe, so we know the best and most cost-effective methods to help you deal with what was once considered a homeowner’s “nightmare.” Not only do we guarantee our work but – when we’re done – we guarantee you’ll be happy with it!