White PVC Drain Pipe Break (C) Daniel Friedman PB Pipe, Polybutylene Pipe in Buildings
Properties, uses, standards, defects, failure claims, class action
     

  • PB Polybutylene (PB) Pipes - CONTENTS: description of Polybutylene PB pipe use in buildings, installation, inspection, troubleshooting, leaks, failures, failure claims. PB Pipe Failure Claims.Recommendations (Specifications) for PB Polybutylene Water Pipe Installation
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about PB or polybutylene plastic piping in buildings: installation, inspection, cracks, failures, leaks, hazards
  • REFERENCES
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PB polubutylene plastic plumbing pipes:

This article describes the properties of polubutylene (PB) plastic piping and tubing used in buildings.

We include information about failures and problems with some generations of plastic pipes (PB or 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.

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PB Pipe: Polybutylene Plumbing Plastic Pipe Use, Installation Specs, Failures, Leaks, Claims, Settlements

Plastic drain piping (C) Daniel Friedman

Thumbnail: Polybutylene (Polybutylene) Plumbing (plastic pipes): gray plastic water supply piping cracked, leaked, and resulted in a class action and settlement.

PB or Polybutylene pipe material (photo at left, center horizontal piping) is gray plastic water supply piping that racked, leaked, and its early use resulted in a class action and settlement.

In 1995 a $950 million class action settlement, Cox v. Shell Oil Company, provided relief for damage due to leaks in Polybutylene plumbing (PB Plumbing) within certain age constraints. Periodic notices were to be provided to homeowners over a 12-year period (ending ca. 2007) as follows:

Owners who purchased a house, mobile home, or other structure in the United States after August 21, 1995, provided that the structure contained polybutylene piping with plastic or metal insert fittings when they purchased it, are included in the class. These individuals may have been entitled to free replacement of their plumbing if it leaked previously or in the future.

The Polybutylene Pipe Settlement case is now closed. Homeowners whose structures still contain problematic versions of PB plumbing may nevertheless find that their building or mobile home is damaged by leaks and needs repairs. However there is no longer relief provided under the class action suit.

By 2010 it would be uncommon to find problematic plastic piping in buildings as we expect that where leaks were a problem, they have in many if not most installations, been discovered and repaired by now.

However home inspectors and home buyers as well as building maintenance staff need to be alert for discovery of older problematic or leaky plastic piping in buildings.

When we see several types (colors) of plastic piping mixed together, especially on older renovation or handyman plumbing jobs we worry that amateur work may have omitted use of the proper pipe glues and sealants.

PB polybutylene pipe failures noticeBut the majority of leak problems with polybutylene supply lines involve failure of plastic fittings. Fitting failure may lead to the need for system replacement.

This type of fitting was commonly used from the late 1970s until the late 1980s. Copper fittings were used in most installations from the late 1980s until the late 1990s. Failure of copper fittings is rare. Failure of the actual polybutylene piping also seems relatively uncommon.

For at least some of the extensive plastic pipe failure claims, an important factor in the PBS pipe failure mechanism included water that contained significant levels of chlorine.

See Chlorine - sources in drinking water for related information.

Polybutylene water piping guidelines (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Connections for PB or polybutylene water piping can be made without soldering, and the pipe is easy to work with, as Carson Dunlop's illustration (left) shows.

Our photo (below right) shows hot and cold water piping using these materials and fittings in a new building.

Polybutylene Piping failures:

Polybutylene water piping guidelines (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Polybutylene piping has been (PB) the source of considerable controversy due to failed fittings, especially first generation plastic fittings.- Home Reference Book, used with permission.

In this article (below) we include links to information about PB piping failures, claims, and litigation. -DF

PB Pipe: Polybutylene Pipe Failures, Claims, Litigation, Contact Information

White PVC Drain Pipe Break (C) Daniel FriedmanOur photograph of a broken white Schedule 40 PVC sewer line in a crawl area (left) illustrates what can happen to this material if a sewer line is blocked and exposed to freezing.

Recommendations (Specifications) for PB Polybutylene Water Pipe Installation

Industry associations, including the Polybutylene Product Line Committee of the Plastic Pipe & Fittings Association have made recommendations for successful installation of polybutylene piping systems, including those listed below. Frankly by 2010 we were never seeing PB installations in buildings at which all of the recommendations below were followed and OPINION it may be that industry experts no longer consider all of the 1990 recommendations necessary. [Feedback invited - CONTACT us.]

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PB Polybutylene (PB) Pipes at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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