Many older homes and offices were built with materials that wouldn’t be used today. Some of the materials that were once considered safe we now know are harmful – asbestos and lead paint are the most common examples. Polybutylene piping is now considered one of these dangerous materials. Unfortunately, it was used in many older Arizona homes and businesses. Many homeowners and commercial property owners are unknowingly at risk.
What Is Polybutylene?
Polybutylene is a type of plastic resin previously used from 1978 to 1995 to make piping for plumbing. At the time called the “pipe of the future,” polybutylene was cheap and easy to install. The average cost of a home was between $1,500 and $2,000 less when built with polybutylene piping instead of copper piping. The manufacturers claimed these pipes would last a lifetime. People listened and the piping was commonly used in the “Sun Belt” states as well as the Northwest and Mid-Atlantic states. Experts estimate it was installed in 6 million to 10 million homes.
Unfortunately, this kind of pipe is not fit for construction purposes and wears out quickly. It reacts to water-soluble oxidants like chlorine – which is an element in most water supplies – and begins to deteriorate under normal use, eventually flaking until it collapses or bursts. After a string of lawsuits in the 1980s and 1990s, polybutylene piping was taken off the market
What Are The Risks Of Polybutylene Pipes?
As the water flows through polybutylene pipes, they begin to deteriorate uniformly from the inside-out. This means that polybutylene pipes will not spring a small leak to warn you of the problem – instead, these pipes will likely fail all at once, which can cause catastrophic property damage.
Due to the expensive nature of polybutylene pipe failure, many insurance companies have rescinded coverage for homes with this type of plumbing. Its presence can lower the value of a property even if there has been no pipe failure yet. Some state building codes don’t even allow for polybutylene piping.
What Can I Do?
The first step you should take as a property owner is to find out whether polybutylene pipes were used in the construction of your building. If your home or business was constructed between 1978 and 1995, it probably was. You can take a quick look around your home, checking out the area around your water main, hot water heater, and sinks and toilets. Polybutylene pipes are typically gray or white with a dull finish. The most effective way to identify these pipes, however, is to have your plumbing inspected by a professional.
The only way to stop the dangers of deteriorating polybutylene plumbing is to replace it. A professional plumber can tell you whether your home or business is at risk for catastrophic failure, and he or she can give your building the refitting it needs to avoid problems in the future. Contact us today to schedule an inspection.