Poly-B plumbing was commonly installed throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but homeowners are finding now that it may be best to replace this flexible grey piping due to strong potential for leaks, which could cause damage to the home.
What is Poly-B Pipe
Polybutylene pipe (commonly nicknamed Poly-b) is a grey plastic pipe that was manufactured from the late 1970s through the late 1990s, and was used heavily in residential plumbing systems. Because it was considerably cheaper than copper, it was used frequently in home construction.
The Issue with Poly-B
If you see grey-coloured pipes in your mechanical room or under your kitchen sink, chances are you have poly-b throughout your house. Unfortunately, when poly-b was popular the plumbers who installed it were not aware of the effect of UV rays on the plastic. Pipes that sat outside in the sun for storage or during construction likely sustained damage from UV rays. This damage is now starting to show up years later as pinhole leaks.
If a small leak in a home is found to be caused by poly-b plumbing, it is highly recommended to replace all the poly-b pipes within the home as problems with the rest of the home’s plumbing is very likely to occur shortly after the first leak.
When to Replace
If you have Poly-b pipes throughout your house, but have not had any issues with leaking you are likely okay to wait on replacement until there is an issue with leaking, or until you are planning to renovate anyways. However, you should have your incoming water pressure tested to make sure it is within the working pressures of polybutylene.