When we find Polybutylene piping during the plumbing component on a complete home or 4-point inspection here in Florida, it will be designated on the report as a material defect - an item that has an impact on the value of the property, and also, it may affect the actual insurability of the property. **Important note - Polybutylene discovery should not necessarily come as a surprise, as this is required to be disclosed by the seller in the disclosure statement - if of course they knew about it.**
A Brief History Of Polybutelene Piping
Polybutylene (commonly abbreviated at PB) is a form of plastic resin used in residential plumbing systems and piping from 1978 to 1995 - in fact, as many as 10,000,000 homes are thought to have Polybutylene piping installed throughout there plumbing systems, and this material was thought be be a revolutionary product in the industry and trade.
By 1995, based on numerous complaints from homeowners with flooded properties and ruptured piping, and after a $1 billion lawsuit (Cox vs. Shell Oil), Polybutylene pipes were no longer accepted by US building codes, and manufacturers stopped producing the pipes altogether.
Why Its An Issue
Research suggests that Polybutylene pipes are too fragile to withstand common disinfectants found in the public water supply, and will quickly deteriorate from the inside out - causing sudden rupture and ultimatly, a large water leak.
What Can Be Done About It?
Ultimately, for current homeowners the best recommendation is to have to home re-piped - this will be significantly more economical than the cost of a pipe rupture, subsequent damage and of course the re-piping after. For prospective buyers, requesting concessions and replacement of the poly piping prior to closing would be the best option.
Polybutylene Piping Gallery
Realtors / Agents
When Polybutylene is noted on the inspection report, knowledge is essential - and although a material defect, we always highly recommend further evaluation and a re-piping quote from a licenced plumber. The plumber will evaluate the extent to which polybutelene has been used, and the cost associated with replacement.
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