Smart Plumbing Solutions Inc. is a Pioneer in polybutylene repipe since 2001. We were part of the execution of the biggest class-action lawsuit (Cox vs. Shell Oil Co.) filed against polybutylene manufacturers and resulted in payouts to homeowners reaching $1 billion.
Polybutylene is a plastic manufactured between 1978 and mid-1995 for use as piping in home plumbing systems. It was inexpensive and offered plenty of advantages over other materials, such as flexibility, ease of installation, resistance to freezing. Pipes made from polybutylene were installed in up to 10 million homes in the Unites States during that period. Production was ceased in mid-1996 after scores of allegations surfaced claiming that polybutylene pipes were rupturing and causing property damage. Certain water disinfectants can react with the polybutylene and cause it to flake apart at any location within the polybutylene piping system. Small fractures can deepen over time and eventually work their way to the pipe’s exterior, allowing water to escape In the homes that still contain this material, homeowners must either pay to have the pipes replaced or risk a potentially expensive plumbing failure.
Polybutylene Pipes Should Be Replaced
Although no regulations require the replacement of polybutylene piping with other material and Smart Plumbing Solutions Inc. recommends doing this. Leaking can happen without warning and can result in flooding and serious damage to a home’s interior if it is not immediately stopped. Polybutylene pipes installed behind sheetrock can leak unnoticed for long periods of time and cause mold and water damage. Polybutylene pipes also reduce a home’s value or prolong its time on the market. Homeowners might face higher insurance premiums or be denied coverage entirely.
How to identify polybutylene plumbing. Polybutylene pipes are:
- usually stamped with the code “PB2110”;
- flexible and sometimes curved, unlike rigid piping materials such as copper;
- most commonly grey in color, but they can also be white, silver, black or blue.
- ½” to 1” in diameter.
- Polybutylene pipes can be in a home’s interior or exterior in any of the following locations:
- protruding from walls to feed sinks and toilets;
- running across the ceiling in unfinished basements;
- near the water heater.
- entering the home through the basement wall;
- at the water meter;
- at the main water shut-off valve.