Polybutylene piping became popular when a large oil company, which will remain nameless, developed the product into a material used for transporting potable water, among other liquids. It was inexpensive to produce, could be made in large quantity, and was readily available. In fact, it is still in use today for many applications in the residential, commercial, and industrial world. It found its fault, however, in its use as residential water piping.
There are two main types of polybutylene: gray and blue. Gray poly was used inside homes to build the potable water systems transporting water to faucets, tubs, showers, toilets, and every other place in the house. It was run through walls, in attics, between floors, and even under concrete slabs. Blue poly was used a main water service lines, carrying water from the water meter to your home, running underground. Both products seemed to be the latest and greatest developments in the industry. Several years later however, the polybutylene waterlines began breaking, splitting, and pitting (the formation of tiny pinholes). This happened often with temperature or pressure changes, but sometimes happened with no rhyme or reason. Or so it seemed.
Many theories exist as to why the product failed with MASSIVE recalls and insurance claims. The most common is that during the formulation process for the piping, a chemical was left out of the plastic mixture, thus weakening it against prolonged exposure to chlorine. Although you may not taste it, there is fairly significant amount of harmless chlorine in drinking water. This is done to treat the water against harmful contaminants or chemicals. It also removes most impurities, and is present in all drinking water. Polybutylene, however, after many years, began to lose its tolerance for the chemical and began degrading and eventually breaking. It broke outside underground (blue), and broke inside in walls, under cabinets, under the slab (gray), usually at joints or connections. The developing company was forced to pay for hundreds of thousands of homes to be completely re-piped, losing billions to a class-action lawsuit. Plumbing Brentwood Specialists, as one of Brentwood and southern California’s premier plumbers specializing in the re-piping of homes, have performed thousands of these repairs ourselves.
Although the lawsuit is officially over, many homes still exist with the poly piping, and are just now beginning to experience problems. If you have this product in your home, don't wait for disaster. Call Plumbing Brentwood Specialists now and set up an appointment for a free estimate for the replacement of this faulty product.
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