A typical Polybutylene system is found in homes, hotels, multi-family housing, and mobile homes built between 1978 and 1996. Polybutylene was an inexpensive alternative to PEX and copper. It was much easier to install and one-third the cost of copper piping to purchase, and nearly half the cost of PEX. Builders and plumbers welcomed the pipe as efforts to maintain profits in a slumping economy increased in the late 70's and early 80's. Approximately 7 million installations of Polybutylene pipe occurred all across the United States in both interior distribution and exterior water service applications.
Do I have Polybutylene piping? Conduct an inspection of your home to see if you have Polybutylene piping on your property. The first thing you should look for is dull gray (picture labeled: #14 or picture labeled: #15) or black piping near the water heater area and running to the fixtures (toilets, sinks, etc.) throughout the home. You will also find acetel or copper fittings with copper or aluminum crimp rings (see the fittings pictured in the photos below). Do not be fooled by copper "stub outs" which may appear under sinks and toilets, because quite often they have been crimped to Polybutylene behind the walls of the home. Additionally, you should inspect the main line or yard service line entering the dwelling from the meter (street).
These three photos will help to identify Polybutylene pipes in a home:
Items 1 through 8 in the above photo illustrate the different types of acetel fittings used to connect Polybutylene piping together. With the exception of item #4 (pictured) these fittings were cut from their original dwelling where they were installed. The pipe is held to the fitting via a copper ring or an aluminum ring. The rings are crimped at the time of installation.
Items 9 through 12 illustrate examples of copper insert fittings used to connect Polybutylene pipe. Items 9 through 10 were cut from their original installation. Items 11 through 12 are new unused fitting. Brass fittings, which have a more square appearance, were also used.
Items 13 through 15 illustrate the three types of Polybutylene pipe. Item 13 illustrates the blue Polybutylene used on exterior yard service lines. Item 14 is the typical gray most commonly used on interior installations. Item 15 is a less frequently used black Polybutylene pipe.
What Now? Over a period of time Polybutylene is alleged to fail and cause damage to the home and/or property. The acetel fittings, as well as the pipe lose their solubility, then shrink and become brittle, resulting in the failure of the calibration on the crimp ring. Failures occur without warning and often go undetected for some time. Several lawsuits were filed throughout the 1980's and a Class Action has been funded by the manufacturer. Due to contractual agreements with the patent holder of Polybutylene piping, we are limited to the amount of information we can publish regarding this product. Please use the links below to find out if you qualify under this settlement for funded replumbing. Please contact us if you have any questions, would like an inspection, or if you would like a FREE QUOTE, please click on the link below.