Have Questions About Polybutylene Piping?
We have answers.
In this Q&A article, we’ll cover the following common consumer questions:
- What is polybutylene piping?
- How do I know I have polybutylene pipes?
- OK, I have polybutylene pipes. What should I do?
- What does repiping involve?
- How long does repiping take?
- Can I stay in my home during repiping?
Read on to learn the basics of polybutylene piping.
Polybutylene Pipe Q&A
What Is Polybutylene Piping?
Polybutylene (PB) is a plastic used for piping in home plumbing systems that were manufactured between 1978 and mid-1995. The primary manufacturers of the pipe were Shell Chemical Company, Qest (pronounced “quest”), and Vanguard.
Initially, polybutylene pipes were popular because they were:
- Easy to install
- And resistant to freezing
However, many homeowners reported their polybutylene pipes were rupturing and causing property damage. And after a Class Action settlement of $1 billion in 1995 (Cox v. Shell Oil), these pipes were no longer acceptable by U.S. building codes and manufacturers stopped production of the pipes.
How Do I Know I Have Polybutylene Pipes?
The easiest way to tell if you have polybutylene pipes is to locate the “PB” lettering on the printed label (in the image below, look for “PB2110”).
Pipes are usually found in the following locations:
- Coming out of walls to connect with sinks and toilets
- Near the water heater
- Entering the home through a basement wall
- At the water meter or main water shut-off valve
OK, I Have Polybutylene Pipes. What Should I Do?
Because polybutylene pipes are prone to leaking and rupturing, we highly recommend that they be replaced. Polybutylene pipes take about 10-15 years to deteriorate, and sometimes you may not know you have a leak, especially if the pipes are behind sheetrock.
These leaks are a serious risk because they can create:
- Water damage
- Or even flooding
To replace polybutylene pipes, you’ll have to remove them and repipe your home’s plumbing system.
What Does Repiping Involve?
Repiping means removing the PB pipes and putting in longer-lasting, durable pipes and fittings made PEX piping (rigid plastic pipes), which have a lifetime guarantee.
Your plumber will follow these 4 steps when repiping your house:
- Shut off water to your home and then examine your home’s pipe layout
- Cut holes into the walls or ceiling to gain access to the pipes (they’ll find the most unobtrusive and easy-to-restore places to cut)
- Remove the old PB pipes and replace them with better-quality pipes
- Repair all holes made during your home repiping process. They will match any existing texture and leave it ready to be repainted
How Long Does Repiping Take?
Repiping generally requires takes 1 - 2 days, followed by 2 - 3 days of drywall repair and painting to return the home to its original appearance.
The actual time to repipe a home depends on:
- The size and complexity of the home’s existing piping system
- The plumber’s abilities
Can I Stay in My Home During Repiping?
Yes. But while the plumbers are working on your home during the day, they’ll have to shut off your home’s water. When the plumbers leave for the day, they’ll be sure to keep at least one bathroom working overnight.
Want a Trustworthy Plumber To Look at Your Home’s Pipes?
We’d love to help with any plumbing repairs or questions. And if you’re thinking about repiping your home, contact Aztec Plumbing & Drains today for a free estimate.
Aztec Plumbing & Drains has been helping Fort Myers, Florida families with their plumbing needs for 25 years.