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28 year old Pb piping with plastic fittings


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Did a 1985 townhouse with mainly Pb piping and plastic fittings. No evidence of past or current leakage at the visible piping and fittings, no replaced piping or fittings, no obviously patched walls or ceiling at other areas.

Is there a point where this stuff is ok? If it was going to fail, would it have been in the first 5 or 10 years?

Obviously I want to let the client know there is a potential for an issue.

What do you think of this comment:

Marginal- The water supply piping in this home is primarily polybutylene(PB) plastic with plastic fittings. Early generations of this piping were prone to leakage, mostly at the plastic fittings used.

While there was no visibly apparent evidence of past or current failure, most of the water supply piping is hidden behind finished walls and ceilings.

You should continue to monitor for evidence of water leakage due to failed fittings or piping.

The plastic fittings can be replaced with more reliable copper fittings. Consult a qualified plumber for bids.

Jim

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Bruce is most correct, followed by Charlie, plan to replace it is good advice for a 28 year old installation.

OK, Marc is also correct but I haven't opened the .pdf yet.

I might add that a skilled tradesman can clamp PEX to one end of a length of PolyB and pull new pipe right in to a stud cavity in many cases. Done it myself, and I am unskilled labor when it comes to plumbing. [:)]

I am now suggesting people with PolyB pipes in their crawlspace, install a water alarm, which gets their attention. There are some great water alarms out there, BTW. Alarm upstairs, sensor down in the crawl.

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My recommendation comment:

The house has PB (Polybutylene) water piping. Replace it. (attach link here)

I try whenever possible to remove all doubt as to what needs to be done.

Simple. They can read up by following a link or two imbedded in the report.

I think telling someone to "monitor" something that will cause thousands of dollars worth of damage the second it fails is not doing my client a favor. If it was my house, I would be replacing it, that's what I tell my clients.

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Thanks for the replies all.

I don't see a lot of this material up here- a couple of times a year, and usually with the copper or brass fittings.

Here's my line of thinking-

Is it functioning as intended? Yes

Is there a potential for problems? Yes

This is the not the only material that can have problems due to water quality. After all, copper can be subject to pinhole or other leaks due to poor water quality, so would your recommendation be to replace it?

My main question:

If it's held up this long, is it less likely to be problematic? Seems like most of the issues with this piping showed up early in its life.

Below is a quote from the Inspectapedia website(where most of my knowledge of this issue comes from)

"By 2010 it would be uncommon to find problematic plastic piping in buildings as we expect that where leaks were a problem, they have in many if not most installations, been discovered and repaired by now."

Another quote from Inspectapedia-"Failure of the actual polybutylene piping also seems relatively uncommon." That's what lead to my comment about replacing the fittings, which are the weak link. Also, I meant replace the accessible fittings, but I did a poor job of saying that.

Anyone with any 1st hand knowledge or experience with this stuff continuing to have failure issues?

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Here's my line of thinking-

Is it functioning as intended? Yes

Is there a potential for problems? Yes

This is the not the only material that can have problems due to water quality. After all, copper can be subject to pinhole or other leaks due to poor water quality, so would your recommendation be to replace it?

The difference is that a copper leaks generally drip small amounts of water that might cause a little rot or mold. When a PB piping acetal fitting fails, it sprays lots of water very suddenly and can cause lots of damage very quickly.

My main question:

If it's held up this long, is it less likely to be problematic?

Not at all. It was a defective product that was the subject of the largest class action in US history. Maybe it's just waiting for you to bump into it. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable saying that it's going to be fine in the future because it's been fine in the past. Defective products don't tend to improve with age.

Seems like most of the issues with this piping showed up early in its life.

Below is a quote from the Inspectapedia website(where most of my knowledge of this issue comes from)

"By 2010 it would be uncommon to find problematic plastic piping in buildings as we expect that where leaks were a problem, they have in many if not most installations, been discovered and repaired by now."

Alternatively, you could say, "By 2010 it would be uncommon to find problematic plastic piping in buildings as most of it has failed and been replaced." This doesn't mean that the stragglers are ok, it means that they got lucky.

Another quote from Inspectapedia-"Failure of the actual polybutylene piping also seems relatively uncommon." That's what lead to my comment about replacing the fittings, which are the weak link. Also, I meant replace the accessible fittings, but I did a poor job of saying that.

I can't imagine a reputable plumber in his right mind agreeing to replace only the fittings on a PB plumbing installation. It's kind of like replacing the breakers in an FPE panel.

Anyone with any 1st hand knowledge or experience with this stuff continuing to have failure issues?

Yes. Several times. Pictures attached.

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