Polybutylene Piping – The Leaky Truth

This week we’re going to take a look at a rather controversial item for many home inspectors – Polybutylene Piping.


Also known as “Poly-B” piping, it was used from the late 1970′s to the early 1990′s for hot and cold water distribution in homes. It is extremely common to see this type of piping here in the Northwest.

It usually has a dull grey (sometimes white) appearance, with metal bands at the fittings.

It was flexible, easy to install, and cheap, and it gained popularity for those reasons. However…

Poly-B can prematurely burst. Chlorine, present in most domestic city water supplies, is suspected to weaken the structural integrity of the plastic and cause it to prematurely burst. Even if it looks fine from the outside, it could still have flaked away on the inside.

Poly-B piping has so far been the subject of several class-action lawsuits. In some states/provinces, it will affect the homeowner’s ability to get home insurance!

If you have this type of piping in your home and it starts to leak in one area, it may just be the beginning of your headaches. If one section of pipe has weakened then more leaks will likely follow. You may need to re-pipe your entire house.

Depending on your home inspector, they may not necessarily report Polybutylene piping as a deficiency, but will warn that it will require ongoing monitoring for any signs of failure. I personally take this route and make sure my clients fully understand the implications of this type of piping.

As a side note, my childhood home, which is almost 30 years old, contains all Polybutylene distribution piping and is still going strong. As with many things in life, “your mileage may vary”.

Polybutylene News


About the Inspector:

David is a licensed, insured, Certified Home Inspector in the province of BC. and holds a certificate in home inspection from Ashton College in Vancouver.

He is also a licensed Power Engineer in BC, and holds a certificate in power engineering from the McPhail school of Energy at SAIT in Alberta. He has been involved in the construction, maintenance and repair of luxury and high-end commercial buildings in downtown Vancouver for many years.

He has a common-sense approach to Inspecting Homes and an innate ability to explain complicated concepts in clear terms.

Call now to book your home inspection!

604 395-2795

About the Author DavidFairbairn

Author David Fairbairn is a certified, licensed home inspector serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. He has been featured in the media and has contributed to "24" Newspaper, and Global TV. He has spent years working with residential and commercial building projects, and holds a Power Engineering License in BC. Why not give him a call for your next Home Inspection? Call 604 395-2795 or email david@fairbairninspections.com today!

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1 comment
DavidFairbairn says February 2, 2013

Thanks Brent! Glad you liked it. Hope you’re doing well!

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