From about the late 1970s through the early 1990s, millions of homes across the country were constructed with polybutylene piping, one of many new building materials that were lighter, cheaper, and easier to produce than traditional metal materials. However, as these piping systems began to age, their reliability became questionable. Despite the manufacturer, Quest, staunchly arguing that studies done on these pipes do not prove they are dangerous and continually refuting claims of liability, their elevated failure rate led to the material being recalled. Today, class-action suits from homeowners who have suffered tremendous damage from these pipes are still continuing.
Since these pipes were largely utilized across the “sun belt” states, of which Florida is a part, it’s not uncommon for homes built between 1978 and 1995 to still have a polybutylene piping system. While many homeowners have undertaken the project of repiping their home for better reliability and security, there are plenty of homes still out there even today that have continued to use these pipes for upwards of 25 to 40 years or more. So if you’re considering buying a house in the Fort Myers area and find that the home still relies on polybutylene piping, you may have some doubts as to whether or not you should make the purchase.
Will My Pipes Fail?
First things first, it’s extremely important that we put something out there: there is no guarantee that Quest polybutylene pipes will fail. While studies have shown at least some small amount of a causal link to polybutylene plumbing being risky, the truth of the matter is that any material can fail. Even modern plastics, copper, galvanized steel, and other materials that have long been utilized for their durability and longevity will eventually wear out with continual exposure to water. Quest piping has simply been shown to fail at a higher rate than many other materials.
In fact, studies have even suggested that the reason for polybutylene pipe failure is similar to the reason why your copper galvanized steel pipes will eventually fail—substances commonly found in public water supplies like chlorine would react with the material in polybutylene pipes, causing them to flake and scale. This caused the pipes to become brittle, resulting in microfractures that could create everything from pin-hole leaks to complete pipe failures without warning.
Should I Buy a House With Polybutylene Pipes?
Polybutylene piping should not dissuade you from making a purchase on your dream home, particularly if you’re in love with just about everything else about it. However, you should absolutely take a few extra precautionary steps before making any deal.
- First, hire a licensed and experienced plumber to inspect the home and determine the health of the plumbing system. This is a good idea in general, but critical if you have polybutylene plumbing because you want to be sure there are no potential or imminent serious issues.
- Second, you’ll want to review your homeowners’ insurance policy to ensure you’re protected. This is important: some homeowners’ insurance companies will not insure homes with polybutylene piping against flood damage caused by plumbing failures. Because these businesses are all about reducing risk, any known risk factors will usually not be covered.
- Finally, you may want to consider talking with the sellers of the home and working repiping the home into the deal somewhere. You may be able to split the cost with them, or you may even be willing to pay for the cost of the service in order to have them do it before the deal closes. In any case, having a repipe service done before you close the sale and move in is significantly easier than trying to repipe your home after you’ve moved in with all your belongings.
Interested in replacing your Quest polybutylene piping? Call Aztec Plumbing & Drains at (239) 232-2012 today to request a whole-home repipe consultation.