What is Poly B Plumbing?
Poly B, also referred to as Polybutylene, is a flexible grey pipe used in hot water systems and residential plumbing. It was manufactured in between the years of 1985 and 1997 because of its flexibility, low cost, and ease of installation. It is estimated that in Canada alone there are over 700,000 homes that have had this piping installed prior to it being discontinued. Each and every one of these homes is at risk of poly b issues happening.
What is the History of Poly B Piping?
Poly B was the first plastic plumbing pipe manufactured to be used as an alternative to a more expensive copper piping. The fact that is was inexpensive and easy to install made it very appealing to plumbers and contractors throughout the US and Canada including Calgary, AB. In Canada, the use of poly b piping was originally tested and certified by the Canadian Standards Association and approved for potable water systems. Although there has been a lot of controversy over the use of poly b, these water systems have acted without failure in many homes for extended periods of times that range from 10 to 15 years. Following this time frame, almost in all instances, poly b pipe failure has happened. It is not a matter of if the pipe will fail but how long until the pipe fails.
See some “Poly B Photos” to help you identify if you have this piping in your home.
Problems with Poly B Piping
Although there may be homes that have not experienced damages to a home the fact is that the pipe was discontinued for a reason. Eventually and over time the pipe begins to leak and cause damages to homes. One or more of the following are the reasons you may be experiencing poly b issues in your home:
- High levels or free chlorine exist in the water supply causing leakage throughout the piping system.
- Improper installation of the piping in homes where fitting were installed too right causing hair line cracks eventually ending with leakage and damages to homes.
- Improper installation of piping to be bent and put under stress causing leaks and damages to homes.
- Installation near high heat areas including hot water tanks, in the attic, and other areas of extensively high temperatures.
- The use of acetal (white or grey) fittings to connect pipes rather than the preferred metal fittings.
See our “Poly B Lawsuits and Home Insurance” page for more information about home insurance claims and lawsuit information. Poly b issues with home insurance and law suits have been around for many years and the chances of receiving a claim or having your home insurance policy cover the costs are very minimal.
Costs for Replacing Poly B
The cost of Poly B replacement in your home depends on the size of your home and the contractor doing the work for you. Replacing the system is almost always invasive to an extent. There are many professionals that have have devised quick ways of replacing Polybutylene piping and getting your home back into the condition exactly as it was before. There are many factors that can dictate the price of a job.
- Interior Access
- Size of the House
- Number of Bathrooms
- How much drywall needs to be removed to access pipes
How Much Does Poly B Replacement Cost?
Cost is always a deciding factor when considering to replace poly b. In general these jobs are not cheap. Depending on these factors the price can range quite significantly. We have found the average price between $6,000 and $12000, just to change out the Poly B with new PEX piping. You are also looking about $5000-$10000 for the drywall to be repaired.
Bringing the total poly b replacement cost to $11000-$22000. This price should include complete removal of poly b with PEX piping and all repair to walls and ceilings during the poly b re-mediation process. A typical poly b job takes about 2-3 business days to complete the plumbing aspect of things and then up to another 7-8 business days to complete the drywall process.
We caution anyone who provides quotes less than that amount as replacement of the poly b is a big job and is very material and labor intensive, lower quotes will most always mean that corners are being cut somewhere.
The investment however is a good one none the less. You will have peace of mind that you will not be a victim of a leaking water system and avoid the costs that come with an unexpected pipe failure.
Selling a Home with Poly B Piping
Changing your poly b in your house can mean the difference between a quick sale and one where your house may sit on the market for a long long time.
As of 2018 most insurance companies are doubling down on houses that they insure that contain poly b piping inside them. They are sending out letters to inform homeowners that there is no coverage on poly b, or if they do provide it, it will come with a massive premium.
This leads to new homeowners purchasing houses with poly b. When they find a house that they put an offer on and are looking for insurance while they get there mortgage in order, the new insurance agents and mortgage brokers are looking for houses built between 1985-1997 that will contain polybutylene piping, they then inform the future home buyer that they don’t insure the polybutylene piping in the house or that it will come with a significant premium.
It is also become quiet common now for mortgage lenders to investigate houses with potential poly b. They find it hard to lend money on a house if the future homeowner is putting under 20% down to lend out the money knowing that there will be 100% chance of a poly b leak happening that will inevitably cause damage. Without a significant down payment the mortgage lender can’t guarantee that a homeowner won’t just walk away from the mortgage leaving the lender with a damaged house and the debt.
If you don’t want to change your poly b before you sell the house. Most likely the purchaser will have the polybutylene flagged in the home inspection, and will negotiate 20-30 thousand off the purchase price, because of all the issues and the hassle of getting a lender and insurance.
All in all, you would be much better to get the poly b replaced before listing the house on the market, and control the price of the poly b replacement and controlling the purchase price of the house.
Find a Poly B Replacement Contractor
See our “Choosing a Poly B Contractor” page for information about hiring a contractor and getting the job done properly.
We have many people who write us asking for a contractor and we refer our inquiries to a company called Urban Piping Ltd. With 3 offices across western Canada, They have a great reputation for getting the job done quickly and efficiently leaving your home in the same condition as it was prior to finding Poly B piping throughout your home. They can offer different solutions and cost effective approaches for anyone dealing with Poly B issues.