Cindy Wilson, Realtor

520-369-0444 (phone/text)

6893 N. Oracle Rd. Suite 111

Tucson, AZ  85704

Full Time Licensed AZ Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Advantage Group

CindyWilson@

RealEstateOroValleyAZ.com

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Polybutelene

 

              

Polybutelene:  A Brief Overview

This blog was researched and written by Thom Culpepper, Owner of TLC Professional Inspections, Inc., a Tucson based Home Inspection Company serving Tucson and the surrounding areas.  Thom Culpepper has done more than 3,000 home inspections since 2003, and has observed countless houses with Polybutylene, and feels the need to educate as many people as possible.

An overview of what home owners and Real Estate Professionals should know about that “dreaded” grey pipe called Polybutylene!

Photo of Polybutylene with plasticĀ fittings

Polybutylene or PB, is a light grey, semi rigid plastic pipe when used in the house, and either blue or black when used as a main service line from the street to the house.

It was first discovered in the mid 1960’s, however it wasn’t used as a plumbing pipe until the mid to late 1970’s. The pipes began as water service pipes bringing potable water from the meter to the house. From the early 1980’s, to 1995 (or so) PB was used throughout the country, though more were used in the southwest. Estimates suggest that six to ten million homes were plumbed in PB during the course of it’s use.

In 1991, the companies that produced PB formed the ” Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center” to trouble shoot PB concerns as leaks ( and complaints ) began to escalate,   and later evolved into a claims processing center. ( It is still in place for repair and or replacement of PB, however there are strict guidelines and time limits, so anyone with concerns or questions can contact the recovery center at the web site below.)

In 1995 a settlement in a class action lawsuit against Shell Oil Co. for PB claims is estimated to be about 950 million dollars.

The majority of leaks occur at the plastic fittings, (connections where the pipe is split off to run to different fixtures).  These original fittings were of the same material as the pipe, however thinner and became brittle faster. The PB material was found to react to chlorine and other chemicals in the household water supply.  In 1991, the fittings were banned and either brass or copper was used in it’s stead, and there was a decrease in the amount of leaks after this change took place.

In 1995, PB was banned from being used in residential building, however plumbing companies were allowed to use up their supply of PB, and we still see it in some 1996 homes here in Tucson.

The cost of replacement varies quite a bit from plumbing company  to company, and with the quantity of water fixtures the house has. Some companies will replace the pipe, but leave the drywall repair, texturing and painting to you, and other companies do it all.  If you are looking for bids on replacing polybutylene, be sure to ask what the bid covers.

For more information, you can contact the recovery center at www.pbpipe.com, or call 1-800-392-7591.  As it stands now, the class action law suit recovery center is closed to taking any new claims, although if leaks occurred prior to the end and they were repaired and had documentation, there may still be a slim chance of a claim.

TLC Professional Inspections, Inc has put together a powerpoint presentation for Southern Arizona Realty Companies interested in furthering education for realtors, so we are on the same page for our clients.  Please call Thom Culpepper at (520) 991-1717 for more information on education.

Please send this link to any others that you may think will benefit from the info!  Thanks!