Polybutylene pipes used to be one of the most commonly used pipes for the plumbing system. They are also called poly b piping. Contrary to their popularity, the damages caused due to their failure have been unprecedented in history. Due to the high possibility of failure of these pipes, homeowners who have yet to replace them are advised to do so as a matter of urgency. Polybutylene pipes are liable to fail at any moment without prior signs. Although Polybutylene pipes can last between 10 and 15 years, its corrosion and degradation can be accelerated by water chlorination. Besides, the damage of Polybutylene pipes happens from inside out; so, there is no way to know the extent of damage the pipes have already suffered. The best solution is to replace them as soon as possible.
Changing Polybutylene pipes is a time sensitive matter, and delay could result in costly damages and expensive repairs. Even though Polybutylene pipes are no longer manufactured, they are still found in most homes because they were the most popular plumbing material between 1978 and 1995 as one out of every four houses had them installed due to low prices and inexpensive cost of installation. Irrespective of the performance or how good the Polybutylene pipes in your home look, over time, they will leak. Therefore, it is recommended that you replace them.
Polybutylene pipes are no longer recommended for use in new buildings and construction done from around 1995 till date; they are, however, likely to be found in homes built from 1978 to 1995. As a result, you have to hire a professional plumber to examine the plumbing system of your home to find out if Polybutylene pipes are still there and replace them correctly with copper or galvanized steel pipes.
It should be noted that Polybutylene pipes get degraded by oxidants in treated water over time and that makes the integrity of the pipes questionable and unreliable. If you just bought a home, the onus is on you to find out if there are Polybutylene pipes in the home as there is no legislation compelling the disclosure of Polybutylene pipes by the seller.
Why Replacing Polybutylene Is Time Sensitive?
Replacing poly b piping should not be delayed for many reasons including, but not limited to the following reasons:
- Water chlorination of the public water supply breaks down Polybutylene pipes over time. Chlorine and antibacterial agents wear away poly b pipes. As a result, the pipes become brittle and flake, crack or break. Polybutylene pipes are highly vulnerable at fittings, which cause micro-fractures and the pipes’ structure breaks down. You would not wish to experience pipe burst or water leak into your property due to compromised pipes.
- Flaking pipe materials may leak chemicals into water and affect its quality badly. Degrading Polybutylene pipes can expose users of water from that place to chemical substances that may cause health issues over time. For this reason, commercial property owners replace Polybutylene pipes as soon as possible without waiting to see how long they will last.
- Unfortunately, Polybutylene pipes cannot be repaired or exchanged. Its production has been stopped over a decade ago. There are better options available that you can use instead of unreliable Polybutylene pipes.
- Most American and Canadian building codes have ruled out Polybutylene pipes for new and existing buildings. Therefore, you should ensure that the plumbing system in your building is entirely compliant with the building codes.
- With the high rate of failure of Polybutylene pipes recorded, most insurance companies refuse to insure homes with Polybutylene pipes installed. As a result, you will undoubtedly have difficulty getting insurance.
- If you want to sell your property, potential buyers can be discouraged from purchasing the home due to the existence of Polybutylene pipes. To have good value offered for your property, replace all Polybutylene pipes present in your home without delay.
How Can You Maintain Polybutylene Pipes Before Replacement?
Having discovered that you have Polybutylene pipes in your home, the next step should be to replace them. However, if you want to wait for some time before you replace them due to financial constraints, here are the ways you can maintain the Polybutylene pipes in your building to prevent accelerated degradation or damage to them and extend their lifespan.
Change Plastic Fittings
Contact a professional plumber to replace the plastic fittings with brass or copper fittings because plastic fittings fail over time. This is one of the steps you can take to prepare for the cost or replacing the poly b piping.
Obviously, pipes are held in place with metal bands. However, if they are crimped too tightly, it could cause hairline fractures, which will result in leaks. So, check and adjust any over-crimped metal bands.
Reduce the Pressure
There are pressure-reducing valves made to lower the pressure of water in your house and make pipes and fittings less stressed. Try and achieve about 40 to 60 psi because higher pressure could make already weakened Polybutylene pipes to rupture.
Lower the Chlorine
High levels of chlorine will accelerate the corrosion of Polybutylene pipes. If you perceive there is high chlorine content in the public water supply in your state, ask a certified plumber to install a filter at the point where water comes into your home to remove chlorine, not just on the faucets.
Reduce Water Temperature
Polybutylene pipes cannot handle hot water effectively; as a result, hot water weakens Polybutylene pipes faster. To reduce the rate of damage to the poly b pipes in your home, lower the temperature of your water heater. In the same vein, remove any Polybutylene pipes connected directly to the hot water tank.
Meanwhile, replacing Polybutylene pipes is a very time sensitive process; you should not delay more than necessary. Make sure you change the poly b piping as soon as possible. Sudden Polybutylene pipes failure is an unpleasant experience that can cost more to carry out. To prevent an unpleasant experience, get the Polybutylene pipes replaced quickly.