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Does Your House Have Poly B Plumbing

What is Poly B Plumbing and the Risks Associated With It


Over the past few years, homeowners in Canada have been increasingly concerned about their home’s plumbing. Many houses built before the 2000s contain a type of plastic pipe called Poly B.

This type of plumbing is known to cause many problems for homeowners, and it’s important to know what to look for if you have this type of plumbing in your home.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about Poly B plumbing, including what it is, why it’s problematic, and what you can do to protect your home from its potential problems.

What is Poly B Plumbing?

poly-b-pipe with code

Poly B plumbing was once a popular choice for home construction, but other materials have since replaced it. The polymer known as Poly-B or “polybutylene” was originally developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of its low production cost compared with a steel pipe.

Over 700,000 Canadian households between the years 1978 and 1995 are using this type of pipe, but after a few years, it was no longer used due to the high number of issues.

What is the Problem with Poly-B pipe?

Poly B is a type of plastic that becomes brittle over time. Though there was a time when it is the best option as a safe and durable material for plumbing, it has been found to be susceptible to degradation and leaks over the years.

As a result, many homeowners are now opting to replace their Poly B piping with more modern and reliable materials such as PEX tubing. If you have Poly B plumbing in your home, it’s important to be aware of the potential problems it can cause, for you to take steps to protect your home.

How Long Will Poly-B Pipes Last?

The average lifespan of Poly B pipes is between 15 and 25 years. However, many factors can lessen the lifespan of these pipes, including:

Material Composition

Poly B pipes are made with a thin wall of plastic that can be easily damaged. It’s this thin wall that makes the pipes susceptible to leaks and breaks. Poly B is also susceptible to degradation from sunlight and chemicals.

Installation Methods

Since these types of pipes were installed in many homes during the late 1970s and early 1990s, the installation methods were often not up to today’s standards. This can also lead to problems down the road, such as leaks due to poor connections.

Water Quality

The quality of your water can also play a role in how long your Poly B pipes will last. Hard water can cause mineral deposits to build up inside the pipes, which can lead to clogs and breaks.

Weather Condition

In Canada, the changing seasons can take a toll on Poly B pipes. The freezing and thawing of water can cause the pipes to crack and leak. While in the hotter seasons, the pipes can become soft and brittle, leading to leaks.

Age of the Pipes

Poly B pipes are advertised to have a lifespan of about 20 years. However, many homes with Poly B plumbing are finding that their pipes are failing much sooner than that. In some cases, homeowners are reporting problems with their pipes after only 10 or 15 years.

Since it was first installed in the early 1970s, Poly B has been the subject of much controversy. The material was touted as being cheaper and more durable than other types of plumbing at the time.

However, as the years have gone by, it has become clear that Poly B is far from being the perfect material for plumbing. In fact, many experts now consider it to be one of the worst materials that have ever been used for plumbing.

Poly B Failure Rate?

polybutylene pipe issues

Almost every home that has Poly B plumbing will eventually experience a problem with it. In fact, the estimated failure rate for Poly B pipes is about 95 per cent. It means that in every 10 homes with Poly B plumbing, 9 of those homes will experience a leak or breakage in their pipes after months or years of use.

This caused a commotion in the 1990s when many homeowners were forced to replace their piping, at great cost. Many home insurers also stopped offering coverage for homes with Poly B plumbing, which left homeowners on the hook for the entire cost of replacement.

When Was Poly B Piping Discontinued?

In 1997, the National Plumbing Code made an announcement to ban Poly B™ piping. This product will no longer be recognized after 1997 and cannot legally be used on any building as it was discovered that they were using this material without being aware of its properties which could cause major problems with water flow or even lead to structural damages.

When the polybutylene resin manufacturers stopped producing it in 1998, suppliers immediately suspended production as well. This left Poly-B piping without a supply and soon after that date all kinds of pipes made from this material appeared on store shelves with an expiration date and were marked unsafe because there’s no guarantee about when their batch was last updated or manufactured.

Poly B Pipe Lawsuit Canada

In the year 2005, the government of Canada officially announced the banning of Poly B pipes due to increasing lawsuits filed against Shell and Dupont, the two companies that manufactured the pipes.

The announcement came after thousands of homeowners claimed they were victims of property damage caused by brittle piping material that broke when the water hit it, or simply leaked everywhere internally. The two companies lost the lawsuits and were ordered to pay the homeowners for the damages their product had caused.

While Poly B pipes are no longer being manufactured, there are still many homes out there that have them installed. If you live in a home with Poly B plumbing, it is important to be aware of the risks and be on the lookout for signs of failure.

Consequences of Having Poly-B Plumbing

There are a few different consequences that can occur as a result of having Poly B plumbing, and these are:

Leaking Pipes

burst poly b pipe under the house

One of the most common problems associated with Poly B plumbing is leaking pipes. This can occur due to the degradation of the material, and it can lead to significant water damage in your home if left unchecked.

High Repair Costs

If you have a leak in your Poly B piping, it’s important to note that the repairs can be quite costly. This is because the material is no longer manufactured, so replacement parts can be challenging.

In addition, the repairs themselves can be complicated and time-consuming, which means that you’ll likely have to pay a professional to do them for you. Also, it is required to replace the Poly B pipes because they are no longer safe to use and it is illegal to do so.

Foundation Damage

Another serious consequence of Poly B plumbing leaks is foundation damage. This is because the water that leaks from the pipes can seep into the ground and cause the soil to expand, which can put stress on your foundation and lead to cracks or even collapse.

Health Risks

In addition to the physical damage that can be caused by Poly B leaks, there is also the potential for health risks. This is because the water that leaks from the pipes can contain harmful bacteria and contaminants that can cause illness if ingested.

How Do You Tell If Your Home Has Poly-B?

poly-b pipes in your plumbing system

If you’re not sure whether or not your home has Poly-B plumbing, check the pipes in your basement or crawl space. If they are made of Poly-B, they are commonly grey, black, or blue in color. Another way to tell if you have Poly-B is by the fittings that are used to connect the pipes. These fittings are typically blue, and they will be plastic or metal.

If you’re still not sure whether or not your home has Poly-B plumbing, you can always contact a professional to come and take a look. They will be able to tell you for sure and help you determine the best course of action.

What Should You Do If You Have Poly-B Plumbing?

If you have Poly-B plumbing in your home, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect your property. There is only one thing to do if you have this type of plumbing, and that is to replace it.

Replace Your Poly B Pipe As Soon As Possible

The best way to protect your home from the risks of Poly B plumbing is to replace the pipes as soon as possible. This is a big job, and it will likely require the help of a professional, but it’s the only way to be sure that your home is safe. If you have Poly B plumbing, don’t wait – get it replaced as soon as you can.

If you live in the Lower Mainland of BC and are in need of a Poly B replacement, look no further than Your Guy Plumbing. We are experts in plumbing and have been helping homeowners with Poly B replacements for years.

We’ll work quickly and efficiently to get your pipes replaced so that you can rest easy knowing your home is safe. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

Cost of Replacing Poly B Pipe

The cost of replacing Poly B pipe can vary depending on a few different factors, such as the size of your home and the number of pipes that need to be replaced. However, in general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 for a small project up to $15,000 or more for an extensive replacement.

You can also check our comprehensive Poly B Pipe Replacement Cost Guide article for more information. Or give us a call to get a more accurate estimate for your specific project.

If you’re concerned about the cost of replacing your Poly B plumbing, keep in mind that the cost is worth it when you consider the alternative. The consequences of not replacing your Poly B pipe are much greater than the cost of the replacement itself, so it’s definitely worth the investment.

Conclusion

Poly B plumbing was once a common type of piping used in homes, but it has since been discontinued due to the risks it poses. If you have Poly B plumbing in your home, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect your property.

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors or InterNACHI advises homeowners to replace their Poly B piping with a safer material such as PEX or copper. If you need help replacing your Poly B plumbing, we recommend contacting a professional for assistance or contact us today and we will be more than happy to help.

John Relampago

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