Polybutylene Piping, do I buy?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by mshipe, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. mshipe

    mshipe New Member

    I'm looking into buying a townhouse for the first time and it has polybutylene piping with the copper fittings. I don't know how safe it is to get into a house with that kind of piping. How long until it breaks and we have a huge problem on our hands? The house is 16 years old... Is it fair to ask the current owners to replace piping, is it even reasonable?
    DE Homebuyer :confused:
  2. Find another house to buy. You'll have nothing but regrets and you'll wish you bought something with decent mechanicals.

    The lawsuits of this product should be enough.

    You most likely won't get a repipe out of them; they'll tell you (as some on the net will too) that their is nothing wrong with it and works in my house and that's good enough for everyone.

    Not so. Talk to the victims to get a true sense of how this product constantly causes property damage along with taking money out of your wallet.
  3. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Unless they are willing to replace all of it or reduce the price so you can, walk away.
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    At least you know up front what you have. Do some google work to find out all about the PB problems.

    If you pipe is not leaking, there may be no legal requirement that the sellers change it out. Of course, in any real estate transaction, anything is negotiable. it all depends on how bad you want it and how bad they want to sell it.

    You could have a home inspection, but my guess is that guy would give such a wishy-washy report and probably recommend that you " have a qualified contractor further inspect".

    There is a lot of PB still out there, but I would not be comfortable keeping it. Just personal opinion on that. You can try to negotiate a split deal with the sellers. Naturally, get legal help via google, because if your specific installation still qualifies for some reimbursement, you don't want to miss that.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    16 years is well outside the parameters for the class action suit. Fewer and fewer installations are qualifying for it now, and it is just a year or so before no one will qualify. It is a tossup. You may be buying one that will never have a problem or you could develop problems as soon as you move in, and there is no way to tell which, if either, will happen to this home.
  6. mshipe

    mshipe New Member

    Thank you to everyone that has responded thus far. I really appreciate your advice and words of wisdom. It's a shame because the house is really great all except that TINY problem...

  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Central Florida
    If it's REALLY great, I'd accumulate a bunch of literature illustrating how bad PB could be, and use that to negotiate with the seller AND the seller's agent, to drop his price to mitigate the risk. Be sure they know that once you've explained the situation to them, they are now aware of something that should be disclosed to ANY prospective buyer. (You may want to back this up with a legal opinion.) If you do buy it, replumb with Pex as soon as you move in.
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Since it hasn't had a problem in 16 years... If you are smart, you'll negotiate a somewhat lower price for the house due to the PB and then if you have a problem (or not), replace it yourself with PEX one piece etc. at a trime.

    Anyway, that's what I'd do, but then I usually do actual research rather than listen to gossip. What I've found.... The prime causes of PB failure were; failure to calibrate crimpers, failure to protect the pipe from UV, the ACETAL fittings and pipe failing due to high chlorine levels in the water. I'd say the probability is that this house hasn't experienced those problems.
  9. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Glad this forum has been helpful. I would add that this does not have to be a deal breaker. If you really like the house, and the price is good, we are talking about maybe $5000 for a repipe. Get some estimates in your area. If we are talking a $500K house and the only stumbling point is $5k, just decide how much of that $5k you are willing to suck up, and then try to negotiate.

    In the big picture, this is an important item, but it is not the end of the world. You can probably make this work .
  10. the deal breaker

    It all depends on how much they want to sell the house

    make them totally repipe the house
    out of copper or pex throughout......

    and let them make the repairs to the walls
    and ceilings....

    you dont want that stuff breaking the first week
    you are in the place...

    get it done before or make it part of the deal
  11. humorazz

    humorazz New Member

    what part of the country u from??

    Sorry but P.B. pipe is just that and trust me, i have been under enough trailers, and consoled enough custom house owners to know that if u buy a house with P.B. in it u need to repipe it, dont get me wrong the mani-block idea was great, but the pipe they furnished with it will make freddy kruger look like tinkerbell if u buy a house with P.B. in it u are in to pain in the pocketbook, but ill console ya..trusted plumber

    in da south
  12. molo

    molo Member

    cold new york
    It's simple; Get a written quote. Leverage you're right to use an inspector. Have your inspector be a plumber. Get a written quote, and include it in your purchase offer. If you are worried about burning bridges with the seller try to be charasmatic and tactful about the situation. Tell them, "i really love your home, and all of it's features seem wonderful, there is only one thing I would like to improve, and I would do it immediately after I move in, that is the piping. I have an estimate (or 2 if you can get them) to do the job, and I would like to deduct this small amount from the asking price. That is how I arrived at my offer..."
    Good luck, I think the key to using potential repairs as a negotiating point, is to show that you appreciate the property you are negotiating, and that although the repairs are minimal, it is a project you would like to be capable of funding.

    Good Luck,
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