Polybutylene  Pipe Replacement &  Repair

Polybutylene pipe is probably not a product you are going to hear about from your plumber, but back in the ’80s and early ’90s, it was used extensively as an alternative to copper pipes which were much more expensive. This type of gray plumbing material quickly gained a reputation for rupturing and not responding well to water pressure over time which prompted the transition to other materials like PVC and PEX. Unfortunately, there are still many homes and trailers that have Polybutylene pipes installed.

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What is Polybutylene Plumbing?

 

Polybutylene is a plastic resin that was created using a series of chemicals in the 1970s. Originally the inexpensive resin material was touted as the material that would eventually replace copper pipes in every home. But as the years went on and plumbers responded to more and more house calls in which faulty Polybutylene plumbing was the culprit, opinions quickly changed from optimism to disdain.

Polybutylene Pipe Repair

Since Polybutylene pipes are no longer used in new construction, finding the parts to repair an issue can be difficult. Depending on the size of the damaged area your plumber may suggest transitioning the whole system from the existing Polybutylene pipes to a newer material such as PEX. This solution can be costly, so there are other options including repairing one piece of the plumbing system at a time using specially designed parts.

  • Pinhole leaks can be repaired by using what are called push-fit fittings. These fittings are incredibly strong and are designed to go over the top of an existing pipe. For an outdated material like Polybutylene push-fit fittings are the only option to repair pinhole leaks.

  • For larger repairs that go beyond pinhole leaks, whole sections of pipe will need to be replaced. This is a great option if you don’t have the funds to get the plumbing system replaced all at once. With the use of push-on couplings, your plumber will essentially combine the existing Polybutylene pipe with newer material such as copper or PEX. Though not a permanent solution, this will buy the homeowner time and get the plumbing system back into working order.

Polybutylene Pipe Replacement

If you have decided to replace the entire plumbing system at once, it will ultimately be a better choice in the long term. The reason being that all Polybutylene plumbing has been shown to fail over time, and it is better to be proactive and transition to something else before you are dealing with a ruptured pipe or even flooding.

Pipe replacement will always begin with one of our talented plumbers coming out to your home to inspect the existing plumbing and provide you with a bid. Depending on the material you choose and how large your home is costs can range anywhere from $1,500 - $15,000. After providing the bid our team will develop a plan to replace every piece of Polybutylene pipe with newer and more reliable materials that will lengthen the life of your plumbing system exponentially.

If you are concerned that you have Polybutylene piping in your home and are unsure of how to find out give our knowledgeable team a call today. We will walk you step by step through the entire process.

Polybutylene Pipe Frequently Asked Questions

Should Polybutylene Pipes Be Replaced?

  • Polybutylene pipes were used starting back in the 1970s and up until the 1990s when it was found that these pipes weren’t holding up as expected. The different chemicals that are put into the water supply, such as chlorine and fluoride, are safe for our consumption but, over time, weaken the materials in polybutylene pipes. That means that these pipes are often an accident waiting to happen when they aren’t replaced in a timely fashion.

It takes about 10 to 15 years for these types of pipes to deteriorate. If your pipes are polybutylene and older than 10 to 15 years, you may be enjoying borrowed time before something terrible happens. It can be an excellent idea to have a professional plumber in to inspect your lines and get an idea of the best way to go around having them replaced. Waiting too long for replacement may result in a huge mess to clean up. Depending on where the pipes burst, it could not only mean a lot of water damage, but you may not have water in your home until the repairs and replacement can be made. It’s often the best idea to handle your pipe replacement before it gets to that point.     

Are Polybutylene Pipes Safe?

  • A person hearing that polybutylene pipes need to be replaced in their home even when they aren’t leaking may worry that polybutylene pipes aren’t safe. In fact, the material is safe when it comes to drinking water. The pipes have no safety issues for your family’s health and wellbeing. However, the fact that the material these pipes are made out of fails easily over a much shorter period of time than other materials makes it necessary to have it removed. Slow leaks, water damage, mold growth, and even more significant incidents when pipes burst can all lead to unsafe conditions in your home that are expensive to fix. It’s a more economical choice to have your old polybutylene pipes replaced. 

How Can You Tell If a Pipe Is Polybutylene?

  • Are you starting to wonder if the pipes in your home are polybutylene? You can use some clues to identify polybutylene pipes in your home. You’ll want to start in places where the lines are exposed and easy to see. You may want to check areas in your basement, under your sinks, by the water meter, or by your water shut-off valves.

Once you’ve found some pipes to investigate, here are some identifying features of polybutylene.

  • Color: Polybutylene is often gray, blue, or black in color. Most commonly, it’s gray.

  • Markings: Typically, you’ll see a marking of PB2110 on polybutylene pipes.

  • Size: Pipes of this material are usually between ½” to 1” in diameter.

Polybutylene is not meant to be used for vent piping, drains, or waste, so even if these pipes that are visible aren’t polybutylene, there is still a chance that you may have these types of lines in your home. One of the issues with identifying the types of pipes in your home is that in most of your home, the pipes are hidden in the walls or covered by dirt and dust from over the years. When you’re in doubt, you can always call in the professionals to verify the types of pipes and create a plan for removal if they do find polybutylene in your home.

Jolly Plumbing is your local plumbing and heating company. We promise to offer you upstanding customer service, experienced workers, and a job done right the first time. We offer affordable plumbing services to both residential and commercial sites, so no matter the size of your job, we can handle it. Contact Jolly Plumbing today at 719-473-8545 for any of your plumbing problems.