No, you shouldn’t buy a home with polybutylene pipes.
Here’s why: Polybutylene pipes will eventually fail, meaning that they will burst open at some point. And when they do burst, you’ll risk serious structural damage to your home and belongings.
Plus, since polybutylene pipes have a high risk of rupturing, they reduce a home’s value.
In this article, we’ll give a little more background on the history of polybutylene pipes and why they’re so bad.
Polybutylene (often abbreviated as PB) is a form of plastic that was used in residential plumbing systems from 1978 to 1995. Some experts believe as many as 10 million homes were built with these pipes.
Many plumbing professionals at the time whole heartedly recommended these pipes, often proclaiming they were the pipes of the future.
Unfortunately, time told a different story. Many homeowners started complaining that these pipes would rupture and cause property damage. Finally, after a $1 billion lawsuit in 1995 (Cox vs. Shell Oil), polybutylene pipes were no longer accepted by U.S. building codes, and manufacturers stopped producing these pipes altogether.
Research suggests that polybutylene pipes are too fragile to withstand common disinfectants found in the public water supply and will quickly become brittle and crack from the inside out.
Over time, once enough mini-fractures have formed in the pipe, it will wear out completely and rupture, causing a water leak.
Leaks in polybutylene pipes that are located underneath your home can cause severe structural damage to a home or building. And the worst part? These leaks are incredibly hard to detect immediately because they’re not underground and not visible.
If you’re looking at buying a new home, your inspector should let you know what type of pipes the home has.
But, if you want to see for yourself, you can also look at the pipe directly. Two features indicate that you have polybutylene pipes:
The easiest places to see polybutylene pipes in your home are...
Well, if you already have polybutylene pipes, you basically have 2 options:
Obviously, we recommend option #1—replace your polybutylene pipes with PEX pipes ASAP. That way you don’t have to pay more money in the long run and you can avoid water damage to your belongings and valuables.
If you’re interested in a home with PB pipes, negotiate with the seller to replace the pipes before the deal closes, or else you’ll be stuck with them.
PEX pipes are inexpensive, durable, and easy to install. They’re not affected by any of the disinfectants in your drinking water, so they won’t corrode or scale. Plus, PEX pipes don’t get pinhole leaks, unlike copper pipes.
Give us a call or contact us online. We’ll give you an estimate on the cost to remove polybutylene pipes in your home and repipe your home with PEX.