Homeowners and Polybutylene Plumbing

By
Real Estate Agent with Tierra Antigua

Homeowners and Polybutylene Plumbing

Lurking beneath your home could be an unknown danger that can damage your home and personal property. It's called polybutylene plumbing and it can fail with no warning.

It was called The pipe of the future when developed in the 70's. Shell Oil Corporation was the manufacturer. The cost was minimal compared to expensive copper and these pipes were much easier to install. Polybutylene piping was used for waterlines and is a gray or blue color. Most of these pipes were installed in homes between the years of 1978 and 1995.

A decade later buildings with these poly pipes started to have leaks. Although the pipes looked fine on the outside, the inside had broken down. There were flakes on the inside where the material was separating. Chemicals in water systems have been blamed for the breakdown of these pipes along with poor installation. These pipes will breakdown; the question is not if, but when.

What should a homeowner do?

Full replacement is highly recommended. Like other home maintenance issues, a delay could mean disaster. Insurance companies can charge higher premiums and limit their coverage on homes with these plumbing. Homes with this piping can also take longer to sell. Even worse, these homes can sell for less.

Homeowners should check their homes for these pipes. Look at the pipes near the water heater for the gray color. In unfinished basements, check the overhead pipes. Other places to search include sink and toilet piping. On the outside of your home, check the water main and crawlspace for pipes that are gray, black or blue. The pipes can appear intact on the outside while danger lurks inside.

 

When replacing this type of pipe only use companies that are licensed and specialized in poly system replacement. The process can take five days to complete. For scheduling purposes, it is best for the homeowner to be away.

Cost estimates depend on your location. There have been class action lawsuits throughout the 1980's and funds were put aside to help consumers with this problem. Unfortunately the lawsuit Cox v Shell settlement has been closed since the May 1, 2009 deadline. On the website www.pbpipe.com there is additional information and a list of licensed professionals who are experienced in replacing poly pipe systems.

Homeowners, take heed. Don't delay replacing your home's water piping system if polybutylene plumbing has been found. These pipes are a ticking clock to disaster and should be addressed promptly. The investment costs to a homeowner can be well worth the value of your home and prevent a disaster.

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Additional Information

Chris Pendleton is a Professional Real Estate Agent in Tucson, Arizona. Former Fire Chief and current Real Estate Investor, Chris knows Tucson Real Estate. Chris is a Certified Short Sale Professional, Certified Short Sale Negotiator, Certified Negotiation Expert, and Foreclosure Specialist. He serves buyers and sellers in Tucson, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, Vail and unincorporated Pima County.