Once touted as "the pipe of the future", polybutylene piping became the cause of much scrutiny in many Class Action lawsuits. The material's low cost and ease of installation made them an in demand product from 1978 until 1995.
It is believed that the basic structural integrity of polybutylene piping systems is defective due to oxidants in public water supplies. The oxidants cause a chemical reaction within the polybutylene and the fittings, casuing them to become brittle. Once the piping weakens, it can then completely fail and end up causing structural damage.
In the 1980's there were numerous Class Action Lawsuits concerning the structural integrity of the piping systems. Defective manufacturing and defective installation was reported to have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
Polybutylene piping systems are made of resin, grey or white in color, and have a dull finish. Inside your home, the fixtures could be found in bathrooms as feeds to your sinks and toilets, near water heaters and also in unfinished basements along the ceiling.
Check the water main outside of your home, as well. If it is blue in color, then it is polybutylene. The line will run from the main into your home, typically into the crawlspace or basement area. Also check the shutoff valve in your home, as well as, the shutoff valve at the city water meter. Cases have been reported where one valve shut off was copper, but the other was polybutylene.
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