It's not usually if, it's when trouble with polybutylene pipes occurs. Polybutylene pipe (AKA PB, Poly, gray pipe) is a type of plastic plumbing pipe that waspoly pipe leaking commonly used in residential water supply systems from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. Polybutylene pipe was popular due to its low cost and ease of installation. However, it eventually fell out of favor due to concerns about its long-term durability and potential for leaks and failures. The greater Atlanta area has a significant number of homes with poly pipes and

Polybutylene pipes are susceptible to premature degradation when exposed to certain water disinfectants, high chlorine levels, and other chemicals commonly found in water systems. This degradation leads to brittleness, cracking, and leaks over time. As a result, many homeowners experienced water damage and costly repairs due to failures in their polybutylene plumbing systems. We see the "geyser" type failures most often on the outside connections, where the higher pressure breaks tend to be significant. Inside, we usually see smaller leaks first which if not caught, can develop into robust problems and complete failure. We didn't realize it at the time but this was due to failure of a PB pipe...

As noted in the video, this home was already set for renovation but this added a layer of expense and time. The source of this leak was a rupture of the ice maker line. Due to these issues, there have been class-action lawsuits and settlements related to polybutylene plumbing systems. Many experts and plumbing organizations now recommend replacing polybutylene pipes with more durable and reliable materials, such as copper, PEX (cross-linked polyethylene), or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes.

These pipes are well entrenched around the greater Atlanta area. If you suspect that your home has polybutylene plumbing, it's a good idea to consult with a professional plumber to assess the condition of your pipes and determine whether replacement is necessary to prevent potential water damage and costly repairs in the future. Be aware that PB pipe is one of three highly concerning building materials used during this time. The others are LP siding and synthetic stucco. They present additional major concerns that many owners and home buyers might not fully grasp. Think complete failure, termites, moisture and mold. It pays to work with professionals...

Posted by Hank Miller on


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