The Skinny on Poly (aka Polybutylene Piping)

The Skinny on Poly (aka Polybutylene Piping)


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Polybutylene piping is a low-cost piping made of plastic resin. It is always white, gray, blue, or sometimes black in color.  Poly piping is used as a substitute for expensive copper piping in both interior and underground water mains. Ploybutylene can seriously affect the value of a home on the real estate market and are very common in older homes in both Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, NM. Therefore, it is very crucial to know the problems can be caused by these pipes and what can be done about the pipes before they create a problem.

Hazards of Polybutlyne Piping

Even though problems with poly piping can start from improper installation, most problems are with the integrity of the piping itself.  When poly pipes age and react with soluble oxidants in water, they begin to degrade and leak. This will cause severe damage to the surrounding building structure as it will be very hard to determine if the pipes are truly in good condition.

How to Recognize Polybutyline Piping

The most effective method of identifying polybutyline pipes is to have a licensed professional inspect your plumbing.  At times, inspectors may not determine if there are actual problems in polybutylene piping; however, hiring a licensed professional plumber can identify if your home has poly piping installed. Generally, poly piping are black, gray, blue, or white  and usually the panel has several plastic pipes in a row. You can also ascertain the presence of poly piping by checking attachments near hot water heaters, under household sinks, or leading into toilets.  These pipes are prone to unexpected busting and failure.   Unfortunately,  with polybutylene, it’s not a matter of whether or not they will break and cause damage, it’s a matter of when!  This is why it is very important to consider replacing these pipes.

Cost to Replace the Plumbing

The best way to eliminate the possibility of poly piping problems is to replace them.  You will have to get quotes from licensed plumbers who deal with replacing poly piping, but you can typically expect to spend $4000 to $6000 and up, depending on the square footage of your home.  However, if you already have damage from poly pipe leaks, the cost of replacement and repairing will be considerably more expensive.

As a home buyer, you should check whether the homes in the area have had plumbing problems and if you are working with a Realtor, make sure you find out the type of plumbing that is present in the homes you are looking at.  Though complete replacement of poly pipes can be expensive, it is the only option to avoid the future risk of failure.

If you wish to learn more about poly piping or are in need of a licensed plumber who specializes in polyputylene remissions, please call us as we have several polybutylene experts on our team!

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