ATCO Rumi

Poly B Piping: Cracking the Code Before Your Pipes Crack

December 21, 2023

by

Rümi

A Rümi plumber writes notes at a table with grey poly b piping.

Have you heard of polybutylene, more commonly known as Poly B? This type of piping can be a real headache for homeowners. Let this be your reminder to check your house for Poly B pipes! 

Poly B was a popular choice for plumbing systems in the 80s, but is now known for its problematic nature. Being aware of the risks of Poly B pipes could save your home, bank account (and sanity!) from damage.  

Get to know the culprit: Poly B

Poly B is a plastic resin, used to make water supply piping in the mid-1970s. The Alberta Government estimates around 148,000 homes in our province were made with Poly B water systems. 

Affordable and easy to make, these plastic tubes seemed like an ideal piping option. Then installations started failing. The failures weren’t random incidents. 

Homeowners with Poly B were faced with hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. What was thought to be an innovative solution turned into a homeowner’s nightmare. By the late 90s, it was clear that Poly B was not living up to its reputation. In 2005, after many lawsuits against the manufacturers, it was removed as a viable material for use in Canada.   

Poly B pipe problems  

Pinhole leaks? Deteriorating connectors? These are just some of the common Poly B problems homeowners face when dealing with this piping. 

Poly B is not well suited for high chlorine, high heat or UV exposure — basically all the things you want your pipes to withstand. Over time (we’re talking around 10 years), the pipes become brittle and vulnerable to deterioration, creating serious risks to your home. 

It only takes a slight temperature or pressure change for the brittle plastic to crack, leaving you with water damage. From leaks and water damage to compromised structural integrity and health risks like mold, the impacts of neglecting Poly B piping can be overwhelming if not addressed.  

Do you have Poly B pipes?  

In Canada, most insurance companies don't cover damages from Poly B leaks. So what does Poly B pipe look like? Is my house one brittle pipe away from a water disaster? 

If your house was built in the late 1970’s – mid 1990’s and the tubes in your plumbing system are grey plastic, you could have a Poly B problem. 

The good news: Unless you’ve owned your home for a long time, Poly B piping should be flagged during a home inspection before purchase.  

If you’re unsure, as an expert. Rümi’s Ask a Home Inspector Service will help you find out if your home is at risk from the dreaded dangers of Poly B pipes. Our Certified Home Inspector can gauge the condition of your pipes and talk through some next steps. 

Poly B pipe replacement  

There is no such thing as repair when it comes to Poly B pipes, there is only replace. As inconvenient as it is, Poly B calls for professional replacement. We don’t recommend DIY tricks for this one! 

A pro plumber will use up-to-date, durable plumbing like PEX or copper pipes. Poly B replacement is a complex job that requires expertise for a seamless and long-lasting replacement. You’ll also need the required permits and approvals to comply with building codes and regulations.  

Need an expert for the job?  Trust Rümi's reputable pro plumbers to provide you with a clear plan, replacement options, and estimates to rid you of your Poly B stresses. There shouldn't be any surprises on the process, cost and time frame.   

There is no “one size fits all” for Poly B replacement costs and processes. It's based on several different factors: 

Home size 

  • Number of pipes 
  • Replacement material type 
  • Complexity of the prep and clean-up 

Although each situation is different, here are some key things you should expect from the expert you chose: 

  • Assess your home’s plumbing to determine the extent of Poly B
  • Create a plan for the replacement based on the layout, complexity and accessibility of your plumbing
  • Protect your home during the process (cutting drywall gets messy!)
  • Restore your home once the replacement is complete (just like we tell kids to clean up after themselves, so should your Poly B pro!)

Prioritize Poly B  

Can Poly B piping be a ticking time bomb for homeowners? Unfortunately, yes. We hate to be the bearer of bad news but ignoring the risks that come with these pesky plastic pipes can wreak havoc in your home. 

Prioritize the replacement of Poly B to avoid serious homeowner headaches. Prevention is always better than a waterlogged cure. Reach out to Rümi’s plumbing experts to protect your home and peace of mind from Poly B pipes.