How to Tell If Your Home Has Polybutylene Pipes

Polybutylene (PB) pipes were widely used in Florida and the surrounding areas from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. Billed as a less expensive alternative to traditional copper pipes, millions of homes across the United States were outfitted with PB piping during this period. Beginning in the 1980s, complaints from angry homeowners began to plague PB manufacturers. 

The reason for all of the trouble with polybutylene is that it tends to degrade over time, creating small fractures. Any single fracture could eventually result in sudden failure, which generally ends up causing extensive damage to the home. Many experts will tell you that PB pipe failure is not a matter of if, but when, and if you currently have polybutylene pipes in your home they have probably been there for many years.

There are a few ways you may be able to tell whether or not the pipes in your home are made from polybutylene. You should be able to observe these pipes in unfinished areas of your home, such as the basement or attic, as well as places where pipes come out of your wall and connect to a fixture such as the water heater. Here are other ways to tell if you have PB pipes:

  • Polybutylene pipes used for interior applications are generally gray in color but may also be black. PB pipes used outside may be gray, blue or black.

  • PB pipe is flexible, not rigid.

  • Polybutylene pipes may be stamped with the code: PB2110.

In most situations, it’s best to call in an expert to positively identify if you do have PB pipes in your home and if you need to re-pipe your home. Trying to diagnose your own plumbing pipes can be tricky because of the many variables at play. For example, polybutylene pipes were used for both interior and exterior applications, so you could have PB pipes outside your home, and something else inside, or vice-versa. Sometimes, the copper fittings used between pieces of PB pipe may lead you to believe you have a copper system. Figuring out whether you have PB pipes is an important step toward protecting your home.

Here at DiMartino Plumbing we specialize in these types of re-piping and have a General Contractor that can take care of any additional work that will be needed after the re-piping. We can handle the job from the initial inspection to the end permit and inspection process.