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polypropylene supply lines??


Paragon
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Hello group---

I did a 4-point yesterday. The owner, who lives next door, came over with my client and basically gave me the tour of the home. This guy is a retired building inspector, also electrical inspector and every other damn thing. The house has been totally replumbed with polypropylene 5 years ago.. That is what he claims. It is on a slab, so all I could see was the stub outs--they were certainly plastic, but had been painted. He said that they had all the proper clamps on them and all. He went on to say that he spent extra money to do it, that PB was cheaper, but he didn't want PB. So he is not confusing his plastics.

I have never heard of this as a supply pipe, and when I search the web for info (and life expectancy), I find one web site that claims this type of pipe has a 10-15 year life. !! If that is true, why would anyone plumb with it?

Could he have meant PEX? I touched one stub out and it was soft enough to have been PEX.

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Thanks Chris! I read through the material on the site over my coffee this morning. One of them could very well be the tubing I saw, even though it was painted. When I touched it, it gave like PEX, but it could have been a type of the PP. So what this guy did was install an industrial-strength plumbing system.

I have posted a question to Asahi on a possible life expectancy of the system. I'm surprised the insurance agency hasn't called me yet on that, but maybe they are not concerned over a plastic (non-PB) system.

At least now I have some info with which to educate my clients. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

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According to the website, PP is rated for 50 to 203 degrees F. I saw mention of 150 PSI. I believe it would depend on exactly which tubing a person used, but the system I saw was obviously functioning after 5 years. I saw no signs of leakage (at the time of inspection, of course). :)

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All the bad publicity with the PP is just ill hype. There is nothing wrong with the pipe itself and it will last as long as the house does if used in accordance with the listed specifications. The problems that have been found with PP pipe is the joints/connections.

You can find plenty of literature and e-docs on the internet that encompass these problems.

DAN HULL

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

Dan,

I think you mean PB (polybutylene), which was the cause of a huge class action suit. Check out wwwpbpipe.com.

Polypropylene (PP) is a different animal.

You are right. Thanks for correcting my oversight.

Dan

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I know we're drifting here, but when I was researching PB for a report I ran across this article about the PB thing being overblown (written by a plumbing engineer).

http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/file ... ssent.html

The little house I was looking at had a lot of PB. The homeowner installed it himself, but when he tried it about halfway through he had leaks all over. He called a plumber-buddy who came by for look and told him he wasn't connecting it correctly. He did it over as instructed, no more leaks. I found none and no signs of any previous leaks (5 years later). Made me wonder...

Brian G.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

I know we're drifting here, but when I was researching PB for a report I ran across this article about the PB thing being overblown (written by a plumbing engineer).

http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/file ... ssent.html

The little house I was looking at had a lot of PB. The homeowner installed it himself, but when he tried it about halfway through he had leaks all over. He called a plumber-buddy who came by for look and told him he wasn't connecting it correctly. He did it over as instructed, no more leaks. I found none and no signs of any previous leaks (5 years later). Made me wonder...

Brian G.

Great article. Thanks for sharing. I have only inspected 3 homes so far with this type piping. None of them had any problems.

I simply noted in my report that there have been some reported problems with leaking connections related to this type of piping, but "at the time of the inspection, there didn't appear to be any problems".

Just as your article stated, if installed within the listed specs, there should be no problems with this piping.

Dan

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Originally posted by Integrity1st

Great article. Thanks for sharing. I have only inspected 3 homes so far with this type piping. None of them had any problems.

I simply noted in my report that there have been some reported problems with leaking connections related to this type of piping, but "at the time of the inspection, there didn't appear to be any problems".

Just as your article stated, if installed within the listed specs, there should be no problems with this piping.

Dan

Hmm. And exactly how are you going to tell if a system you're inspecting was installed within listed specs?

I've inspected about 150 houses and manufactured homes that were plumbed with PB. Of the ones with acetal fittings, every single one either was leaking during the inspection or had leaked previously. I hardly see these anymore. Most in my area have now been replumbed.

Of the ones with PB pipe and copper fittings, about a third were leaking during the inspection. I'd guess that another third had signs of having leaked previously.

Aside from the water that was leaking out, the leaking fittings looked just like the non-leaking fittings.

I've attached some fun pictures.

I know that Scott Patterson has lots of PB in his area that's doing just fine (including his own house?). So maybe there's a regional component at work here. In any case, when I find the stuff in a house, I'm less than sanguine about it.

BTW, if I were building a house today, I'd use PEX.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif PB_Scouring.jpg

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Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif PB_Leak_02.jpg

101.93 KB

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif PB_Leak_44.jpg

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Thanks for the pics Jim. No such problems in my area.

I regularly converse with a gentlemen home inspector in my area. He was a builder for 22 years, now home inspector of 12 years. Across the county and state line from MO., in Kansas, in the $500k - $1mil dollar homes, he has encountered endless PB piping. None have had any problems. I have not installed any of this pipe, so to be honest, I could not tell you the listed specs on this pipe. I will tell you this though...I will be researching for an answer. If you find out, would you be so kind as to post it here.

Thanks,

Dan

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Hmm. And exactly how are you going to tell if a system you're inspecting was installed within listed specs?

Beats me, I wouldn't try. I'll probably just stick with what I did on this house, look for leaks and signs of previous leaks and include a few handouts with the report.

I thought the engineers' opinion was far from ironclad, but he made some interesting points. I've only seen and read-up on this stuff once, but it initially strikes me as being one of those systems that was designed and built without enough margin for error to do well in the current construction world. Fast and cheap rules the day, which doesn't lend itself to systems that must be carefully installed to work properly.

Say Jim, that first photo is a drywall defect, what's it doing in there? [:D][:-dev3][:D]

Brian G.

Remember When PB Just Meant Peanut Butter? [:P]

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Originally posted by Jim Katen

Hmm. And exactly how are you going to tell if a system you're inspecting was installed within listed specs?

Beats me, I wouldn't try. I'll probably just stick with what I did on this house, look for leaks and signs of previous leaks and include a few handouts with the report.

I thought the engineers' opinion was far from ironclad, but he made some interesting points. I've only seen and read-up on this stuff once, but it initially strikes me as being one of those systems that was designed and built without enough margin for error to do well in the current construction world. Fast and cheap rules the day, which doesn't lend itself to systems that must be carefully installed to work properly.

Say Jim, that first photo is a drywall defect, what's it doing in there? [:D][:-dev3][:D]

Brian G.

Remember When PB Just Meant Peanut Butter? [:P]

I think it would be good to know how this stuff should be installed so the inspector can help determine if future problems are possible, even if there are not any problems currently. That too is part of an inspectors job. Not necessarily to point out suitability or life remaining, but if it is apparent that this pipe, having known problems exist when not properly installed or if not installed a particular way, was not installed correctly, then I think it is our responsibility to inform the client with this finding.

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Originally posted by Integrity1st

I think it would be good to know how this stuff should be installed so the inspector can help determine if future problems are possible, even if there are not any problems currently. That too is part of an inspectors job. Not necessarily to point out suitability or life remaining, but if it is apparent that this pipe, having known problems exist when not properly installed or if not installed a particular way, was not installed correctly, then I think it is our responsibility to inform the client with this finding.

I can agree with that in principle, but I'm not sure what it amounts to in this particular case. Is there a concensus on what the effective technique should look like with this stuff?

By strange coincidence I've been hired to inspect that little house again by a buyer (did it for the seller the first time, 3 months ago). If his still isn't leaking I could take note of how they put it together.

Brian G.

I Love Re-Inspections [:-thumbu]

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Say Jim, that first photo is a drywall defect, what's it doing in there? [:D][:-dev3][:D]

Brian G.

Remember When PB Just Meant Peanut Butter? [:P]

Actually, if what the seller told me was true, that's not a drywall defect, but a PB fitting defect. It's a picture of the ceiling directly above a water heater where an acetal elbow cracked. The spraying water scoured the drywall to the pattern in the picture.

Since I found another broken, leaking fitting in the same house, I believe him.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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