Buying or selling a home is an excellent investment for the homebuyers and a source of income for the seller. However, when there is Polybutylene in the house, the story changes. One of the reasons for the twist to purchasing or selling a home is the presence of Polybutylene in the home, which has been banned by most building codes. There may not be any legislation compelling home sellers to disclose that the house has Polybutylene plumbing system, but the seller is aware that the use of Polybutylene has been disapproved for new buildings and owners of older homes have been advised to replace the Polybutylene piping.
What to Know When Buying a Home With Polybutylene?
As a buyer, if you have found a home you love so much, but it has Polybutylene installed, you may feel discouraged about buying the house. You are correct to be discouraged because it is only a matter of time before Polybutylene fails, which may be very expensive to fix. However, if the seller agrees to replace the Polybutylene piping before selling the home to you, you are fortunate.
It is, however, important to mention that sellers do not re-pipe homes before putting up their properties for sale as a form of marketing strategy. Meanwhile, some sellers may consider this as a good idea particularly if the real estate market is experiencing low sales.
Before you complete the purchasing contract with the seller of the home with Polybutylene pipes, inform your real estate agent to tell the seller to either:
- Replace the Polybutylene pipes with PEX or copper pipes OR
- Reduce the selling price of the home to allow you to replace the Polybutylene pipes before you move in.
What to Know When Selling a Home That Has Polybutylene?
If you are a seller, you should disclose all known conditions that the buyers need to know about the property including the likelihood of leaky pipes. If you decide to replace Polybutylene pipes in your home, that is good. But remember that many homebuyers are willing to take over risks that are fully disclosed. Some buyers may demand that you replace the Polybutylene pipes or ask for a price reduction to provide to a re-pipe after buying the home. Meanwhile, you should be aware that few buyers would withdraw their purchase offer completely. On the contrary, there would be some buyers who want to remodel the building anyway. Hence, any replacement you did would be a wasted investment.
If you will not re-pipe your home, you should ensure to inform the buyer of the possible risks of Polybutylene pipe in the house. You know that if they are not at home when a pipe bursts, it will cause water and structural damages worth thousands of dollars. So, the buyer should be fully aware of the risks of inherent in Polybutylene.
What Both Homebuyers and Sellers Should know about Polybutylene?
Polybutylene is also called Poly B or PB. It is a type of plastic pipe made from a resin called “Polybutylene,” and it used to be the most common plumbing material in residential buildings from 1978 to 1995. Besides, it was estimated that more than 10 million homes had Polybutylene installed in them.
The problem with Polybutylene is its high occurrence of a failure as it would rupture and cause structural and water damages. The U.S. building codes do not accept Polybutylene pipes any longer in recently constructed buildings and Polybutylene pipes in older homes are recommended for replacement. Also, the manufacture of Polybutylene has been discontinued.
One major factor that the homebuyers and sellers should know is that Polybutylene pipes are not reliable and will eventually burst. This kind of pipes gets degraded daily due to the presence of chlorine in the public water supply and other physical factors that contribute to their accelerated corrosion. Over time, Polybutylene gets too fragile and brittle to withstand pressure; so, they crack from the inside out.
Polybutylene has a high possibility of failure to cause severe structural damage to any building. To make matters worse, water leaks via Polybutylene may not be detected early enough to prevent significant damages except it happens in conspicuous locations.
As a result of the possible failure of Polybutylene, it is crucial that home sellers disclose if there are Polybutylene pipes in the home to allow the potential homebuyer to know the true state of the residence. If they are willing to purchase the home regardless of the Poly B pipes, they will gladly go ahead with the contract, and if not, nobody will be held in the dark concerning the state of the building about the Polybutylene plumbing system in the building.
The potential buyer should also go the extra mile to ascertain the condition of the home with a checklist that includes verifying the plumbing system in the house for possible installation of Polybutylene. In case the seller does not disclose, the buyer will know the risks involved in buying the home if Polybutylene pipes are installed.
How to Find Polybutylene Pipes
If you want to buy a new home, your inspector should find out the type of pipes installed in the home. However, you may want to check and see for yourself if Polybutylene pipes are installed in the house. There are two ways to identify Poly B pipes quickly:
- The color of Polybutylene pipes is usually blue, but it can also be gray or black
- There is always a “PB” inscription next to a set of numbers on the pipe.
The most common locations where you can find Polybutylene pipes are:
- Near the water heater and hot water tank
- Pipes connected to toilets and sinks
- At the water meter or main shut-off valve
- The pipe running across the ceiling in an unfinished basement
On a final note, Polybutylene pipes should be replaced either by the party selling a house or the potential buyer. And both parties must agree on how to share the expenses.