The 1970s were a great decade, weren't they? During that 10-year period, Afros, bell bottoms and 8-track tapes all came into their own. A lesser-known commodity also appeared on the scene for the first time as well: polybutylene pipes. Once considered the pipe of the future due to its ease of installation and relative cheapness (in comparison to copper piping), polybutylene has become the bane of many homeowners' existence. Why is that, you ask? Well, simply put, it's horrible. Here's what you should know:
- Polybutylene pipes were used in a number of construction projects from 1978 until around 1995. Residential homes, mobile homes, apartment buildings and commercial properties all used the material. Industry insiders believe it was used in about 6-10 million properties total. That breaks down to about one in four homes built during that 17-year span. So, chances are you probably have polybutylene in your home.
- Polybutylene pipes were used mainly for underground water mains and interior water distribution piping. The underground polybutylene piping is usually blue but may also be gray or black. The interior piping is almost always black.
The problem with polybutylene
Not all polybutlyene piping systems show signs of failure. It is believed, however, that many of the oxidizers used in the public water system (chlorine, fluoride, etc.) react with the polymer piping and cause it to break down. This leads to micro-fractures, which are very hard to detect and ultimately lead to leaks and total system failure. Not to mention that many insurance companies raise premiums or deny coverage outright to homeowners with polybutylene pipes on their property.
The only way to be sure that you do or do not have polybutylene piping is to call a professional, licensed plumber and have him or her look at the piping on your property. It's recommended that if polybutylene pipes are found, you should have them replaced immediately. Explore Kudzu to find an experienced plumber in the Atlanta area to help you solve you polybutylene problem!