If you purchased a home built between 1984 and 1999, chances are it was built using Polybutylene (Poly B) plastic plumbing pipe. Unfortunately, purchasing a home with this plumbing material means you may have a trickier time insuring your home.

Here are the main issues that arise when trying to insure a home with Polybutylene pipes.

Issues with Polybutylene Plumbing

Issues with Polybutylene Plumbing

 

  • High levels of chlorine in certain water systems would lead to leaking from these pipes, eventually causing extensive water damage.
  • Because of the plastic design of these pipes, fixtures and connectors that were installed too tight led to small hairline cracks developing. These cracks would slowly spread throughout the length of the pipe, eventually leading to a flooding event or serious water damage that led to molding.
  • The pipes were often bent to allow plumbers to install them in tight places and what seemed like a good idea ended up becoming a headache after these bent pipes were compromised and no longer held water.
  • Plastic melts easily compared to metals like copper that are historically used for plumbing pipes. You can imagine some of the issues homeowners faced when these pipes were installed near hot water heaters and other high-temperature areas.
  • In severe cases, well-hidden pipes behind drywall weren’t discovered to be leaking until it was too late. Some of these plumbing systems leaked for years, slowly damaging the wood and drywall, growing mold during the process. After substantial periods of leaks going unnoticed, the drywall would cave, finally exposing the extent of the damage.

Over the last two decades, numerous lawsuits and insurance claims have been filed over damage caused by polybutylene pipes.

What Should I Do If I Have Polybutylene Pipes?

What to do if you have poly-b pipes? image of plumbing supplies and blueprints

If you have these pipes installed in your home, your options are fairly limited. Some of the plumbing systems that use poly-b pipes operate efficiently for 15 to 20 years without issue. However, because of the plastic design of these pipes, eventually, they will malfunction. It’s not a question of if, but when.

The only practical solution is replacing these plastic pipes.

The average price of the pipe replacement and new drywall is going to be somewhere around $15,000. This price also depends on the size of your home, the number of pipes hidden behind walls, and the length of pipe that needs to be installed.

Selling or Buying a Home with Poly-B Pipes

In a normal Real Estate market  If you are selling a home with these pipes installed, you have two options. One option is to replace the plumbing system before putting the house on the market. Your second option would be to reach an agreement with the potential buyer to discount the price of the repairs they will have to carry out on the home.

However, in the current B.C. Real Estate market the buyer has very little leverage during the sale agreement process. They are often paying over the asking price and even need to be condition-free to have the offer even considered.  In this case purchasers need to be sure they have found an insurance provider that will consider Poly-b acceptable before they make their offer.  Of the few companies that will consider a new business with Poly B many will require that the plumbing be changed immediately upon taking possession as a condition of insurance.

The best a consumer can do is educate themselves, be aware of potential insurance concerns, and budget accordingly when they are in the home buying process.

Looking to chat to an insurance expert about your options? Contact us today.