Polybutylene QEST "Quest" pipes in my home

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by TF52, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. TF52

    TF52 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Ruckersville Virginia
    My home was built in 1996 in central virginia. I have lived in this home for 10 years. I found out that my pipes are made of polybutylene - and the product name is Quest. I am told that Quest pipes are prone to leakage and that some homeowners replace their plumbing systems because of this. I also read on the internet that the bad Quest plumbing is black in color and was no longer in use after the 80's . My pipes are light gray in color and 3/4 " in diameter and on them is printed " QEST ". Are my gray Quest pipes as bad as the black ones? My plumber said that many people in my area with homes built in the early 90's have this same type of pipes. I would like advice on whether I should replumb the home or just wait it out and be glad if I never spring a leak.
    Thanks in advance for your answer(s) !
    TF
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    As far as I know PB pipes, inside the house, were ALWAYS grey. The black lines were usually ABS and were used in mobile homes. After 1996, most installations were "manifold" type with small lines to the various faucets. These systems seldom had problems. The piping covered by the class action suit, now expired, was installed prior to 1996. There is no way to tell if you will EVER have a problem, so I would not do anything until it happened.
  3. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    What you have is defective pipe. Some insurance companies will not cover the loss or damage as a result of having poly leak........or will cover it once. My realtor will not even list a house for sale that has poly.......its that bad.
  4. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    I have had it in my home for 19 years with no leaks. It's looped under the slab with all joints in the walls. I have seen copper fail down here in far less time. Most of the failures that I have seen were do to aluminum crimp rings or plastic fittings that were installed under a bind. My option is the lawyers turned it into a money maker for themselves.

    John
  5. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,225
    Location:
    Maine
    Most of the problems with PB pipe were a result of it being stored outside or where it was subjected to UV light rays (the sun) which degraded it but........the acetyl fittings were also a big part of the failures. If you have copper fittings with copper crimp rings and have had not previous problems I wouldn't worry too much about it.
  6. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    Tom I have the same option you have of the pipe. The problem is it has gotten such a bad rap that it will have a detrimental effect on the resale value of the homes that have it installed.

    John
  7. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,225
    Location:
    Maine
    No argument on that point. It's like a lot of things that got real bad press either because some idiot couldn't be bothered to read the directions or some lawyer found a sympathetic judges ear.
  8. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    Chlorine attacks it. It usually lasts 20 25 years here before the problems start with the pipe itself.

    The latest leak I repaired on poly was two weeks ago. 1st leak the guy had.....and it cost him 200.00 for the pipe repair and 1200.00 in water clean up and replaced carpet pad.

    Thats 1400.00 plus all the trouble for one small leak.
  9. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    How many copper slab leaks have you repaired as compared to poly? 20-25 years is pretty good service in my opinion.

    John
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  10. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    Thats not a fair question. Do you realize how many houses are piped with copper for 60 + years without issue? Alot is the answer.

    20-25 years sucks.
  11. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    That's your opinion I was giving you mine, but from reading your posts I was expecting to be attacked by you. I guess the plumbing business is all about you.

    John:(
  12. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    No ones attacking you just giving you my experience.The more chlorine in the water the faster is goes. You dont have to like it. I think your mad because you have it and I'm telling you point blank your going to have trouble with it. The percentages are on my side.....
  13. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    I am well aware of the the risk of poly pipe. I have been in the plumbing business for a long time. My point was that copper is also failing in less then 20 years in both are areas.

    John
  14. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    When is the last time you heard about a copper manufacturer paying out in any lawsuit? Please explain that......I think I already understand why but just wanted your opinion on that.

    Nothing lasts forever but there was/is a problem with the poly pipe and its no secret.

    I've found more poly leaking for no obvious reason than I have copper.
  15. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    There were lawsuits against poly because there was a warranty on it. Not sure how long it was but 20 years comes to mind. There is no such warranty on copper. I'm not saying copper is a inferior product just that it too has failures. The fact of the matter is I don't like any of the new pipe. (CPVC or PEX) But in order to compete were stuck with it.

    John
  16. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    I agree with you. Personally I will use any pipe the customer is willing to pay for as long as it meets code and it doesn't give me any trouble. We dont make the pipe and fittings. I only warranty that I use approved materials and install it correctly.

    I'm in this business to make money and most people shop with their wallets not my advice. The ones that take my advice end up with systems that last longer with less trouble over the life of the pipe. In the area I work copper and brass is by far the longest lasting material at this point in the game.
  17. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,225
    Location:
    Maine
    What I find funny is how when poly first started to show up on the radar those that were installing it stood firmly behind it until the lawsuits started and then like rats they abandoned ship. Now these same guys are out there extolling the virtues of another similar plastic product and I suspect that when it begins (already has) failing we will be going around the circle yet again. Anyway, face it. Nothing lasts forever and we should not expect nor want it too. We sell stuff and we sell service. If every faucet and fixture I have installed in the last 35 years or so, lasted forever I'd be out of business and so would you. I like re-pipes. They are good for the bottom line.
  18. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    I've been patching poly pipe for 12-15 years and repiping when the customer agrees to it. My carpet cleaner/water extraction friend has also made alot of money because of poly.

    While nothing lasts forever you'll never hear that "polybutylene is great pipe that lasts along time without typically causing any trouble"

    You'll never hear that from a plumber thats ran service on these poly systems.

    The plastic fittings was only the beginning of its failure and I'm not even going back that far..........the pipe is failing.

    Chlorine content,water temp,installation and water pressure all have a role in how long it lasts. Problem is under "normal" service its failing around the 20 yr mark.

    If you have it I advise replacing it ASAP. The cost of a couple of leaks can cost more than replacing it.....or one bad leak.

    ADD> I just remembered one customer of mine that I just counted up 16 leaks I have repaired for her. She has polybutylene pipe and is on well water. Her water pressure according to my invoices is 60 psi and the water temp is 140. She has holes cut all over her house from the repairs and has removed all the carpet in her house....room by room after the leaks.

    So far she has spent 3800.00 just on patching the pipe over the past 6 years. They quit calling the water extraction guy since they live without carpet now and just live on the bare slab.

    Yes I pulled my invoices. LOL
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  19. TF52

    TF52 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Ruckersville Virginia
    Thank you very much for your replies. The reason I got worried about the plumbing to begin with is that I am planning to have a new hardwood floor installed. I want to be careful before I install it so that it is not water damaged some day...
    I saw a tiny bit of corrosion / moisture near the shut off valve under my sink, and wanted it replaced. The grey pipe looked strange to me and I don't know how to work with it, so i called a plumber, who said that the polybutylene pipe is not in code anymore so he had to splice in a peice of heavier white pipe called PEX and then crimp that to the new shut off valve. A friend of ours has just experienced a spontaneous flood in their home and had lots of damage to floors and furniture so that has been on my mind through all of this.
    So I guess a more reasonable question is: if you were planning on a new hardwood floor would you replace the Quest plumbing with PEX before putting in the expense of a new floor?
    Thanks again.
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The plumber did the valve change the "hard way". I would not worry about the Qest pipe until you have a problem with it. There were hundreds of thousands of homes that had the problem, (and it was NOT because the pipe was out in the sun, or had a bad installation. It was just a bad material), but even more who did not have any problems.
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