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Why Should You Replace Your Home's Polybutylene Water Line?

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The municipal water lines that supply your home with fresh, potable water can be made from a wide variety of materials, from traditional copper to modern PVC plastics. Most of these lines will last for decades with minimal maintenance. However, if your home uses a water line made from polybutylene plastic, it should be replaced by a professional water line installation service as soon as possible.

Why Should Polybutylene Water Lines Be Replaced?

Polybutylene is a type of plastic resin that was once used to create water line piping for residential homes. Between 1978 and 1995, many new homes across the nation were fitted with polybutylene water lines. Unfortunately, polybutylene water lines have been shown to have serious flaws.

When polybutylene piping comes into contact with chlorine, it starts to degrade at an unpredictable rate, causing pipe wall thinning and microfractures that can eventually cause the entire pipe to rupture or collapse. Since most municipal water supplies contain trace amounts of chlorine used to sterilize the water, thousands of homeowners found that their water lines were failing prematurely.

Failing polybutylene water lines became such a widespread issue that a class action lawsuit was filed, and in 2005, home builders and plumbers were banned from installing water lines made from this troublesome plastic. However, since polybutylene degrades at an unpredictable rate, many homes built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s still use polybutylene water lines, often without the homeowner's knowledge.

If and when a polybutylene water line fails, the resulting leakage can lead to catastrophic flooding, increased municipal water bills, and loss of water pressure throughout your home. If your home uses a polybutylene water line, it must be replaced before it fails, even if the water line seems to be functioning normally.

Does Your Home Have A Polybutylene Water Line?

If your home was built between 1978 and 1995 and has not had its water line replaced, there is a good chance that your water line is made from polybutylene. You may be able to check for yourself by checking an above-ground section of the water line. These sections are usually located near your home's water heater. If your home has a crawlspace or basement, you may also be able to inspect the water line from there.

Polybutylene water lines are usually blue or grey in color, while other plastic water lines are black. However, a few polybutylene water lines are black, and can easily be mistaken for safer lines made from stable PVC plastic. If you are at all unsure whether your home uses a polybutylene water line, call a professional plumbing service to inspect the line for you.

If your home does have a polybutylene water line, it should be replaced immediately by a water line installation service, as there is no telling if and when microfractures will cause the line to collapse.