Polybutylene pipes: what are they?

Plastic resin is used to make polybutylene (PB) pipes, which were a cheap and convenient response to the 1975–1995 construction boom. With the expectation that they would outlive most other piping materials, they enabled simple to install residential plumbing systems in millions of houses.

Because they were less expensive than other materials like copper pipes and took less time and skill to install, homebuilders regarded them as a godsend. PB pipe was used in the construction of 6 to 10 million homes between the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. The majority of them were in Texas and other southern states.

Identification of polybutylene pipe

Flexible 1 "or ½" pipes made of polybutylene are often gray or blue, but they can also be silver, cream, or black. The mark "PB2110" on the pipe's side is a surefire indicator that you have PB pipe in your house.

Examples of fittings and pipes made of polybutylene

Only water supply lines made and polybutylene shut off valve were put in place. They are not used as vent, sewer, or drain pipe. They may usually be found where:

  • Your water heater is connected.
  • A main shutdown valve.
  • Connected to toilets and sinks.
  • Along exposed pipes in basement ceilings.

It is significant to highlight that throughout the relevant time period, polybutylene was often used to construct the main water pipes in residences. You cannot recognize or determine if these are broken since they are hidden. It's likely that your waterline is polybutylene if your house has other polybutylene lines.

Another crucial point is that installing PB pipe does not rule out the option of installing copper piping next to sinks and other fixtures. Plumbers frequently created "outlets" where they attached more aesthetically pleasing copper fittings to exposed plumbing components in a residence. Your walls or ceilings might still contain PB.

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors advises installing polybutylene pipe in place of copper in all residences. 

Overhauling domestic piping

A thorough maintenance program for the pipe system greatly reduces the likelihood of network breakdowns. Leaks begin at the joints and unions where two parts are joined by faulty pipes. Other times, the issues are in the siphon, which gets clogged up with dirt over time and emits unpleasant odors.

Accessible components

All components must be reachable for the residential water system to be properly maintained. The upkeep of indoor domestic hot water and cold water for human consumption systems is governed by a variety of regulations. In this sense, it ascribes the completion of maintenance, cleaning, and disinfection chores to "sufficiently qualified employees," despite the fact that it provides a wealth of information to confirm that the suggested procedures are performed correctly.

Storage tanks, taps, and showers are the components that need to be inspected in the event of hot water. It is advised to open the faucets that are not in use at least once a week and let the water run for a few minutes because they should always be clean and functional.

Showers and faucets are also impacted by the cleaning and upgrading of the cold water network. Whenever feasible, the chlorine levels in this situation should also be examined. It must be at least 0.2 mg/l.

Cleaning and sanitizing

To make sure that the water complies with the necessary quality standards, a comprehensive overhaul entails assessing the conservation and cleanliness of the whole network. Cleaning is required if the pipes are clogged with debris or incrustations. When the installation is first placed into operation, after a shutdown of more than one month, after structural repair or modification, when a general overhaul makes it appropriate, and as specified by the health authority, this work should be performed at least once a year.

Cleaning essentially entails scrubbing the tank walls with certain cleaners and washing with fresh water. The damaged components might be fixed or replaced if they are not in excellent condition when this procedure is being performed. The pipes must have manholes, registers, or be located in easily accessible holes in order to do this.

Other advice

The upkeep of the network necessitates examining not just the condition of the pipes, taps, and showers but also that:

  • The stopcock within the house is placed in a convenient location for handling.
  • Limiting valves that stop the water pressure from rising over a certain maximum value are used to regulate it.
  • When an installation is out of commission for an extended length of time, the water connection is cut off.