Poly B (Polybutylene) Leaks, problems, lawsuits, insurance.

Posted: January 12, 2014

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 1978 and 1998 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.

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.

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 for either one of a combination of the following reasons:

  • 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.

Poly B Lawsuits

In Canada and Calgary AB, trying to get reimbursement through a lawsuit or through insurance is no longer an option. This may be a new issue to you as a home owner but the reimbursements for a complete Poly B replacement system was only available if your system was replaced by 2005 or within 15 years of it being installed. The reimbursement for the complete system was only 25% of the system and 25% of any damages that had been caused. On top of this you had to meet several other requirements. As of now, getting reimbursement for a replacement system or for any damages caused is far from expected. The safest action that anyone can do is to have the system replaced before the pipes begin leaking as a preventative measure.

Costs for Replacing Poly B

The cost of replacing the Poly B system 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 practices and professionals in which have devised quick ways of re-mediating Poly B and getting your home back into the condition exactly as it was before. There are many thing that one will need to consider when getting the job done:

  • Materials
  • Labour
  • Re-mediation
  • Interior Access

If you are in the position where you need to re-pipe your entire home and were not prepared then you are simply in an unfortunate situation. The investment however is a a good one non the less. You will have peace of mind that you will not be a victim of a leaking water system and the value of your home will increase in the process.

Poly B and House Insurance

This can be a tricky subject. There are many insurance companies that may offer a higher plan for homes with Poly B piping but in our experience most insurance companies will simply not cover the costs at all and will also not cover the damages in case of an incident. Some insurance companies may even refuse to renew your policy in the case of Poly B piping being found throughout your home. In some cases the deductible is so high that replacing your piping system is a cheaper expense. These can all also be triggered through fire claims or weather damages.