Plastic drain pipe mixup (C) D Friedman ABS Black Plastic Pipe in Buildings
Properties, uses, standards, defects, failure claims, class action

  • ABS PLASTIC PIPE -CONTENTS: description of Polybutylene ABS pipe use in buildings, installation, inspection, troubleshooting, leaks, failures, failure claims
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about ABS plastic or "black plastic" drain piping used in buildings: installation, inspection, cracks, leaks, failures
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

ABS or black plastic plumbing pipes:

This article describes the properties of ABS plastic piping and tubing used in buildings. We include information about failures and problems with some generations of plastic pipes (ABS, polybutylene) and we describe good building practice installation details where plastic piping is being installed.

The articles at this website will answer most questions about plastic building water supply and building drain piping products, failures, and claims as well as many other building plumbing system inspection or defect topics.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved.

ABS Plastic Pipe Failures, Leaks, Claims, Settlements

ABS Drain Piping (C) Daniel Friedman

As our black ABS drain piping photo shows (above), some drain line leaks having nothing to do with product defects can occur in this system if the piping is not properly installed.

Field investigations of leak stains (as in our photo) as well as investigations of sewer gas odors (SEWER GAS ODORS) have traced these problems to failure to properly clean, prime, and glue the pipe joints during construction.

However, "All Black -hit," defective black ABS plastic waste pipe manufactured in the mid 1980's failed by cracking, as Cranor's photo below illustrates.

"All Black -hit," defective black ABS plastic waste pipe manufactured in the mid 1980's failed by cracking. The result was litigation and some damage settlements, but currently it is unlikely that a homeowner will find legal relief for newly-discovered ABS drain waste vent piping cracks and failures.

History of ABS Pipe Failures: ABS Plastic Drain/Waste/Vent (DWV) pipe failure Brands

Photo of a home water softener systemOur photo (left) illustrates a homeowner-installed water softener drain cut into an ABS drain line - an unsanitary cross connecction explained

ABS drain pipe material failures were reported for pipe made between 1985 and 1988. [1][2][5][6][7] below

More information: U.S. CPSC Hot Line: 800-638-8270

ABS Plastic Pipe Leak Failures Still Being Discovered

Cracked leaking ABS Drain Piping (C) Daniel Friedman John Cranor The House WhispererABS plastic drain and vent line failures are still being discovered, as John Cranor's photo from 2011 illustrates.

Home inspector John Cranor provided the photo at left of a cracked ABS drain line, commenting:

This photo of cracked ABS is damage that I feel has to be related to the defective ABS that was reported years ago. I am in VA and have inspected close to 6000 homes and this was the first I have seen this issue here. I saw at least six spots on the drain pipe in the crawl space that had similar cracking and white crusty residue like shown in photo.

I know there was once a lot of information out there about this issue but now I cannot find hardly anything. The website is now owned by some plumbing contractor and it has no useful information about ABS or its issue.

The seller of the property where I took this photo has some plumber saying there is nothing wrong and that he has never heard of a problem as I described. He claims the white residue is mud and that he could see no crack.

How to Detect or Find ABS plastic pipe cracking failures

Plastic drain pipe mixup (C) D FriedmanAlthough the cracked ABS drain line is quite visible in Mr. Cranor's photo (above), or in some areas where piping is exposed (photo at left) there may not be ready access for visual inspection of all surfaces of all of the plastic ABS drain lines in a building. Here are some tips that can reduce (not eliminate) the chances of missing faulty black ABS plastic drains:

ABS Class Action & Litigation

The prior class action litigation involved five of the six ABS pipe manufacturer's brands listed above: Centaur, Phoenix, Polaris, Gable, and Apache. (Spartan was excluded). We have not found evidence of an class action (June 2012). The attorney involved in prior actions, David Birke-White, indicated (paraphrasing) that defective ABS piping failures are a progressive problem and that piping that had not already failed will do so in the future.[1]

ABS DWV pipe failure references


Continue reading at CPVC & PVC PLASTIC PIPING or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below.

Suggested citation for this web page

ABS PLASTIC PIPE FAILURES at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

More Reading

Green link shows where you are in this article series.


OR use the Search Box found below at Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Support & See Fewer Advertisements

From Google's Contributor website: Contribute a few dollars each month. See fewer ads. The money you contribute helps fund the sites you visit.

Google-Contributor supports websites while reducing advertisements. You can support InspectApedia with a contribution of any amount you wish. Or you can contribute nothing and we'll still keep our website free to all readers - supported by advertising. Either approach is OK.