polybutylene pipes

11 Replies

good morning all,

I'm looking into a potential property and I wanted to get some feedback on polybutylene pipes because I don't know much about them. The duplex I am looking at has these. should I avoid homes with these pipes?

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Polybutalene was a for-runner of PEX   Close to the same as pex but with thinner walls.

I have had in my home since I built it in 1992. Works fine. They sell fittings to change to PEX from the Poly if you need to add-on(which I have done). The  OD is the same as Pex.

Wouldn't bother me

If it had a basement, which I doubt it does in ca, I'd change it all in a matter of half a day and at most $400 in parts. 

See if there is a taste to it. Many of those pipes In the3 past were making th3 water taste "plastiky". Check google too.

Polybutlyene is an older form of pipe.  Not the same as pex, though both are plastic.  Polybutlyene has a bad reputation.  Not sure its entirely justified, though there have been problems and lawsuits about it.  

Polybutlyene pipe is always grey, AFAIK.  Pex is blue, red or white.

I have purchased a few rentals with this piping. My thoughts were to eventually replace when it failed with pex. That said it has not failed. I dont think I would let one component of the home dictate a yes or a now for the buy? I mean if the home is worth 100k and you are buying for 60k what does 2k-4k of potential plumbing matter?

There was a big class action lawsuit against the manufacturer of polybutylene back in the mid 90s. I can't remember what the problem was, but the only problem I've ever had from it was freezing and bursting. Obviously, that can happen to any pipe and is more of a user error than a manufacturing defect. 

You can maybe use it as a bit of a bargaining chip, but if you do purchase it, I would say if its not broken don't fix it.

I think the lawsuit problem was with leaks at the joints and crimp rings. In Mobile homes. I have been drinking our well water through Polybutelene for 22 years. Tastes like water. No issues.  Like I said before, pex and poly are the same outside diameter. Poly has thinner walls.  I wouldn't worry about it. And changing to PEX is fairly simple.

I have a townhouse that has it and have only had one recent problem with a pipe bursting in the wall, and the plumber said if they've been good this long, they're good, so don't worry too much about them, that if they were going to be the really bad ones, I'd have known it by now.  

I definitley wouldn't avoid the houses but as you already know the pipes are known to have issues. I have this type of piping in my personal home and so far it's still holding up. The inspection guy did casually mention it when doing the inspection so I didn't understand how big of an issue it was. If I were you (or me before I bought my house) I'd definitely use it as a bargaining chip. 

Again mine is still holding up but every year I see plenty of people digging up their yards to have it replaced.