Polybutylene Pipe in
Manufactured Homes

Polybutylene is a semi-rigid plastic like material that will usually have a slight curve to it and will normally be gray in color. All Polybutylene will have a product code of PB2110 stamped onto it and will be repeated every 18” – 24”.
The pipe was first introduced in the late 1970’s and was touted as a great innovation for the new construction market. It allowed contractors to install Interior Potable Water Distribution Systems much faster and cheaper than with the more conventional systems such as Copper, Galvanized or CPVC piping. It is estimated that Polybutylene was installed in upwards of 10 million homes, apartments, and commercial structures thru the 1980’s on thru 1995, when it became the subject of a class action settlement, (Shell v. Cox, It was mainly used in the Sun Belt and Mid-Atlantic States, with some also used in the Pacific Northwest. Here on Vashon Island its has been used mainly in manufactured homes.

Polybutylene has been declared a defective product because it can prematurely and unexpectedly fail. There are 2 fundamental causes of failure of Polybutylene pipes. First; Chlorine and other oxidants are leached into the pipes which react with the Polybutylene resin causing it to become brittle. As the pipes become brittle, micro-fractures result reducing the structural integrity of the pipe, resulting in leaks. Second, the pipes could have been installed incorrectly. The ease with which Polybutylene could be installed, (didn’t even require experienced pipe fitters or plumbers), paved the way for sloppy installations where the special crimping tools weren’t calibrated regularly causing loose fittings, fitting were installed crooked, pipes were bent and kinked to go around corners, etc.

You may have Polybutylene in your home and not even be aware of it. The most common way to determine whether you have Polybutylene or not is simply to look for it. In most homes you can readily see pipes such as in crawl spaces, ceilings, under kitchen sinks or at the water heater.

We can replace your piping with either copper or Uponor Aquapex tubing. Both are time tested materials and conform to UPC plumbing code. If you are concerned about rodents chewing the pipe then copper is the right choice. If not, Aquapex is a quarter the price and much faster for us to work with. Give us a call and we'll come by for an estimate.