We are your
experts. Polybutylene is a form of
plastic resin that was used extensively in the manufacture of
water supply piping from 1978 until 1995. Due to the low cost of
the material and ease of installation, polybutylene piping
systems were viewed as "the pipe of the future" and were used as
a substitute for traditional copper piping. It was used through the
1980's and early-to-mid 90's.
These are typically gray or white in color with a
dull finish. Most are shown with pipe attached. Figure (4) is a
The piping systems were used for underground water mains and as
interior water distribution piping. Industry experts believe it
was installed in at least 6 million homes, and some experts
indicate it may have been used in as many as 10 million homes.
Most probably, the piping was installed in about one in every
four or five homes built during the years in which the pipe was
Will the Pipes Fail?
How to Tell If You Have Poly
Exterior - Polybutylene underground water mains are
usually blue, but may be gray or black (do not confuse
black poly with polyethelene pipe). It is usually 1/2"
or 1" in diameter, and it may be found entering your
home through the basement wall or floor, concrete slab
or coming up through your crawlspace; frequently it
enters the home near the water heater. Your main shutoff
valve is attached to the end of the water main.
Also, you should check at the water meter that is
located at the street, near the city water main. It is
wise to check at both ends of the pipe because we have
found cases where copper pipe enters the home, and poly
pipe is at the water meter. Obviously, both pipes were
used and connected somewhere underground.
Interior - Polybutylene used inside your home can be
found near the water heater, running across the ceiling
in unfinished basements, and coming out of the walls to
feed sinks and toilets. Warning: In some regions of the
country plumbers used copper "stub outs" where the pipe
exits a wall to feed a fixture, so seeing copper here
does not mean that you do not have poly.
Oxidants in the
public water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the
polyethylene piping and acetal fittings causing them to scale
and flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result, and the
basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the
system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage
to the building structure and personal property. It is believed
that other factors may also contribute to the failure of
polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is
virtually impossible to detect installation problems throughout
an entire system.
Contact us today at 604-739-2000
water line repair or
Why replace water
What causes water
Types Of Pipes: that
may be in your home