Was your home built between the early 1970s to mid-1990s? It may contain Poly-B pipe systems. At the time, these systems were considered to be better and cheaper alternatives to traditional copper piping. However, Poly-B has proven to be less durable and reliable than copper tubes.
Within ten years of installation, many homes with Poly-B waterline installations have suffered from:
If you want to do a quick scan for Poly-B in your home, try these initial steps:
Should you find Poly-B in your home, you will need to determine when the pipes were installed and where potential breakage points may be.
If you find Poly-B piping, the next step is to figure out if your pipes meet the National Building Code of Canada’s current standards. Homeowners with pipes that meet the criteria won’t need to do anything except ensure any Poly-B lines aren’t connected to water heaters.
To meet current code standards, pipes must have the CSA standard number “B 137.8,” the word “POTABLE,” a date code, a material designation (PB2110), and the piping manufacturer’s identifying mark. It should also have a pressure rating of 690 kPa @ 82ºC or 100 psi @ 180ºF.
Polybutylene pipes are typically grey, but they can also be blue, black, white, or silver. Typically, polybutylene piping is 1/2-inch or 1-inch in diameter and marked with the code "PB2110." Inside the house, polybutylene piping is grey and can be found near water heaters, sinks, and toilets, as well as in basement walls and ceilings. Polybutylene is typically blue outside, and it enters through basement walls or main water shut-off valves. It is important not to confuse polybutylene pipe with PEX, which is more flexible and can withstand higher temperatures.
You may be able to get help paying for the repipe process through your homeowner's policy or home warranty. Including adapters and valves on appliances, your plumber will remove and replace all polybutylene with copper or durable PVC. In addition to new risers, manifolds, and fittings, you may also need to upgrade.
If you need to replace an entire polybutylene system, you should consult with a licensed plumber to discuss what is involved and get a cost estimate to replace the PB piping. This could be a complicated project depending on how much PB piping is hidden behind finished walls. You can use a PB transition coupling to make the transition from polybutylene to approved piping if you are making a small repair or adding an appliance to your plumbing system.
Our qualified technicians can help advise homeowners on various options. Our goal is to help you remedy the situation economically so you can protect your home from failed equipment and costly leaks.
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