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Polybutylene “Big Blue” Pipe Replacement

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Polybutylene was once thought to be revolutionary within the plumbing industry in the United States.  This specific form of plastic was implemented in high volume for plumbing pipes and fixtures from the mid 70’s through the mid 90’s.  These plumbing pipe systems were installed in millions of homes before Polybutylene Pipes were discovered to be highly defective.

The problem with Polybutylene pipes can be found in their high rate of failure in standard operating conditions.  The deterioration has been linked to chlorine additives added to the water to sanitize, but failures have been reported by customers with private water supplies as well.  In North America, it has become unacceptable due to its history of failure over its decades of use.  Typically you will see a surge in Polybutyene pipe replacements when the seasons change.  The change in temperature causes the “Big Blue” to expand or contract aggravating its weakness.

It’s not a matter of when this style of piping will fail, but rather when.  Therefore, it’s important that Polybutylene pipe replacement be done before a break or burst since it usually costs less to repair or replace. Polybutylene pipe was used in many major areas throughout the country, including the Washington DC metropolitan area.

How can I tell if Polybutylene is being used within my home?

  • Is there blue plastic pipe visible where your water service enters your home?
  • Is there a gray plastic fitting visible when your water service pipe enters your home?
  • Polybutylene connectors are barbed with a crimp or compressing ring and it can be made of copper or plastic.

In many cases you may find that Polybutylene is completely hidden under the ground and cannot be seen.  What are some other ways I can tell?

  • Sump Pump is being over-run.
  • Neighbors have it, or have had it replaced.
  • Elevated water bill.
  • Home was built between 1975 and 1995

If a break occurs in the foundation wall, or near it, you could have water damage which could include personal property damage i.e. carpets, furniture, walls, even AC and heating equipment.  There is also a risk of mold developing in your walls or under your carpet which can get into your duct system and spread throughout your home causing health risks.

Contact John C. Flood today if you suspect you have Polybutylene piping within your home or we can have someone come out and inspect your home to determine if you have Polybutylene piping.