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Polybutylene Piping

Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used extensively for water supply plumbing pipes from 1978 until 1995. Polybutylene was viewed as “the pipe of the future” because it was much cheaper to produce than traditional iron or copper pipes, and its flexibility meant less work for plumbers when compared to rigid metal systems. Polybutylene has an excellent resistance to chemical damage due to its strong molecular bond with the molecules it comes into contact with. Polybutylene tubing was installed between 1986 – 1995 throughout many regions in North America including Northern California, Oregon, Washington State, Nevada, New Mexico, Southern California and Alaska.

History of Polybutylene

Polybutylene piping systems were popular for both residential and commercial buildings due their low initial cost when compared to traditional metal piping systems. Polybutylene was used for both distribution and supply lines, but also in appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and even sprinkler systems. Polybutylene pipe has not been produced since 1995 due to risk of failure, which can result in flooding or even burst pipes. Polybutylene pipes are most commonly found in the “Sun Belt” where residential construction was heavy through the 1980’s and early-to-mid 90’s. Polybutylene is also very common in the Mid Atlantic and Northwest Pacific states because these regions experienced a great deal of new commercial construction during this time period.

Polybutylene pipes have a high resistance to freezing temperatures, but they are more susceptible to damage from sustained exposure to sunlight than traditional metal piping systems. Polybutylene is also very sensitive to impact, which can cause rips or cracks in the pipe that may rapidly increase over time due to high pressure within the system. Polybutylene pipes are especially dangerous when damaged because they are difficult to detect until it is too late. Polybutylene pipes were never approved for use with potable water supply systems, so early detection of Polybutylene lines can prevent serious damage if your home’s plumbing system has Polybutylene piping installed.

Polybutylene Facts

  • Polybutylene was used as a substitute for traditional copper piping during the 1980s and 1990s
  • Polybutylene has an excellent resistance to chemical damage due to its molecular bond with the molecules it comes into contact with
  • Polybutylene is most common in the Sun Belt region where the majority of new residential construction took place during that time period
  • Polybutylene can be very dangerous because it is difficult to detect until damage has already occurred. Polybutylene should always be tested for after any type of plumbing repairs are made.
  • Polybutylene piping systems were popular for both residential and commercial buildings due to their low initial cost when compared to traditional metal piping systems
  • Polybutylene was used for both distribution and supply lines, but also in appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and even sprinkler systems
  • Polybutylene is sensitive to impact which can cause rips or cracks in the pipe that may rapidly increase over time due to high pressure within the system. Polybutylene pipes are especially dangerous when damaged because they are difficult to detect until it is too late
  • Polybutylene was never approved for use with potable water supply systems
  • Polybutylene can be very dangerous if your home’s plumbing system has Polybutylene piping installed and you might need a repiping plumber to replace the pipes.

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