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This article was written by, a leading providing in Home Inspections

What is polybutylene?

Polybutylene is simply a type of plumbing material that was manufactured between the late 70's and early 90's. It is thought that it was installed in over 6 million homes during that time period. Polybutylene was originally thought to be a versatile and inexpensive product to use. However, manufacturing ceased after many allegations that the pipes were rupturing and causing major damage.

Why does it fail?

To make a long story short, Polybutylene pipes are susceptible to small fractures which can become larger over time and can fail. It is also thought that if PB was not installed correctly, it can also fail at the joints and unions (where two pipes are connected).

When PB fails it can either burst and cause immediate damage or it can leak slowly. If it is leaking slowly, undetected because it is behind drywall, it can cause water damage over time and can cause mold to grow. If the PB bursts it can cause major, immediate water damage.

Main plumbing - polyb

Polybutylene - main plumbing

PB tubing

Imprint PB 2110

What are we looking for?

Polybutylene usually has the PB2110 stamp on it, as seen in the photo at right.

However, not all PB will be marked so there are a few other ways to determine if it's PB.

Other ways to determine if it's PB:

1. PB is flexible and can sometimes appear curved. I like to say that it's looks "bendy".

2. It is typically gray, but it can come in blue, white, silver or black. (Photo below is an example of black PB.)

3. PB is from 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter.

It's important to note that PB can be colored differently from region to region. It may be black or blue in one area and gray in another We see a lot of gray in Florida.

PolyB black

Black Polybutylene

PB tubing supply line

Polybutylene at the bathroom supply lines

So, how do we fix it?

If the entire home is plumbed with PB you will need to either have the homeowner replace all of the plumbing or find a carrier who will accept the PB.

The good news is that the most common place we see polybutylene is not as the main form of plumbing (or rather, what's behind the walls - the expensive stuff to fix).

We see the most PB as supply line pipes which are fairly easy and inexpensive to replace. If the entire home is plumbed with PVC or copper, for example, and has only the supply lines in the bathroom or kitchen as PB, the homeowner can have the PB replaced with accepted materials. Two examples of accepted materials are flex metal and flex vinyl. Both can be found at your local hardware store and are not expensive.

If you have questions about a specific inspection, ask your inspector or you can always contact a licensed plumber.

polyb gray larger

PB at the supply line in the kitchen

Do you want to go deeper with Four Point inspections?

We provide full training on Four Point inspections, right over the internet. IT'S FREE.

If you're interested in this training, simply email me at and I will be happy to set a time for your agents.

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janis fuller said...
thanks for the information....I have a client who has polybutylene plumbing...will see what happens
TUESDAY, APRIL 24 2018 8:37 AM

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