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Pipes constitute a major part of plumbing systems in homes across the US. These pipes are made from a wide range of materials, including PVC, plastic, copper, and polybutylene. Also known as ‘Poly’, polybutylene is considered perhaps the worst of all piping materials. The risk of failure in Poly pipes is unusually high compared to the other materials. Generally, homes which were built between 1975 and 1995 have polybutylene piping, as the material was developed and gained immense popularity during that period.
Hence, if your home was built before 1975 or after 1995, you probably don’t have polybutylene pipes in your home. Once the issues with the material were discovered, they were taken off the market and are no longer used in homes. In fact, most homeowners who discovered that their homes had Poly pipes had them replaced with copper or some other type of piping. So, the big question is why is polybutylene so bad? Here is a look at the risks it poses:
Wear Down Quickly
Polybutylene has low tolerance to oxidants. Oxidants are heavily present in public water supply and therefore, it is possible that oxidant-rich water runs through your pipes. Because of these oxidants, the pipes wear out quickly and this can lead to flooding, among other issues. The bigger risk is that the wear and tear starts from within, which makes it virtually impossible to notice any defects in the structure of the pipes from the surface.
Even if you get a professional plumber or inspector to check the pipes, they might be unable to report problems if there are no obvious signs of damage. This means that the problem continues to gestate and exacerbate and by the time it is discovered, the problem is beyond repair and you need to have the pipes replaced.
Leakages are a risk in pipes made from any material. However, if there is a leakage, it can be much worse if the pipes are made from polybutylene. This is due to the way the pipes start wearing down, as mentioned above. Because the deterioration occurs from within, detecting a leak can be difficult. By the time you see water seeping from the pipes, you could be at risk of major leakage. This not only leads to flooding, but water damage to the foundation of your home. Not to mention, the water leaking from the pipes can leave spots and stains on your walls, requiring a paint job.
Cost of Repairs
Typically, the damage caused by polybutylene pipes can cost a lot of money to repair. Even insurance companies don’t offer coverage for homes which have Poly pipes installed. Not only this, you will have a hard time should you wish to sell your home in the near future. Therefore, it is better to be proactive and have the pipes replaced.
It takes just over a decade for Poly pipes to show signs of deterioration, by which time they are beyond repair. The best approach towards mitigating these risks is having the pipes in your home checked. If they are made from polybutylene, you should have them replaced the first chance you get.