The Poly B™ Pipe Lawsuit: Origins, Impacts, and Solutions
The Poly B™ pipe lawsuit is a significant legal event that arose from the 1980s and 1990s real estate boom. In this comprehensive article, you’ll learn about the origins of the class action lawsuit, the affected properties, its pros and cons, and the ins and outs of Poly B™ piping.
Poly B™: What is it?
Poly B™, or polybutylene, is a type of grey plastic plumbing pipe most commonly used for residential plumbing works between 1985 and 1997. Almost all new builds and renovations that took place during these years used this type of pipe. However, Poly B™ has since been banned due to extensive water and property damage caused by its high failure rates.
Poly B™ Pipes Composition
Poly B™ pipes are made of a plastic resin called polybutylene, which is a semi-crystalline thermoplastic material. The pipes are flexible, lightweight, and easy to install, which made them a popular choice for residential plumbing systems during their time. Unfortunately, the material’s susceptibility to degradation and eventual failure has led to significant problems for homeowners and insurance companies alike.
Why Were Poly B™ Pipes Popular?
There were several reasons why Poly B™ pipes gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s:
- They were relatively inexpensive compared to traditional copper pipes.
- Their flexibility and lightweight nature made them easy to install, reducing labor costs.
- They were resistant to corrosion and mineral buildup, which was a common issue with copper pipes.
- They provided quieter operation, as the plastic material absorbed sound better than copper.
However, these advantages were outweighed by the numerous issues that arose from the use of Poly B™ pipes, leading to their eventual ban.
Poly B™ Pipe Lawsuit: Origin and Background
The Poly B™ pipe lawsuit became the biggest class-action lawsuit in America due to the manufacturer’s negligence. They failed to meet industry standards and specifications, resulting in costly and inconvenient repairs. Lawyers representing homeowners successfully proved that the manufacturers were responsible for the pipes’ defective design, and they had to pay for repairs and replacements.
Key Players in the Poly B™ Pipe Lawsuit
Several companies were involved in the production and distribution of Poly B™ pipes and fittings, including:
- Shell Oil Company: The primary supplier of polybutylene resin used in the production of the pipes.
- Hoechst Celanese Corporation: A major producer of acetal resin used in manufacturing Poly B™ fittings.
- DuPont: Another significant supplier of materials used in the manufacture of Poly B™ pipes and fittings.
These companies faced numerous lawsuits and class-action suits related to the failure of Poly B™ pipes and the resulting property damages. In the end, they were held responsible for the defective products and forced to pay settlements to affected homeowners.
7 Facts About the Poly B™ Pipe Lawsuit
- The Poly B™ pipe lawsuit was the largest class-action lawsuit ever.
- A total of 2.7 million homes were affected by the faulty piping.
- The average payout for the Poly B™ pipe lawsuit was $1,200.
- The defective piping can cause flooding and irreparable damage to homes.
- Poly B™ piping is no longer suitable for use in residential plumbing.
- If you suspect your home has polybutylene pipes, get a professional inspection.
- Homeowners with polybutylene pipes are no longer eligible for a cash settlement or pipe replacement.
The Issues with Poly B™ Pipes
There are several reasons why Poly B™ pipes have become problematic for homeowners:
Poly B™ pipes are susceptible to degradation over time due to exposure to chemicals in the water, such as chlorine. This can lead to the weakening of the pipe walls, making them more prone to cracking and bursting.
The plastic material used in Poly B™ pipes can oxidize when exposed to oxygen in the water, causing the pipe walls to become brittle and more likely to fail.
Certain types of bacteria can degrade the polybutylene material, leading to the eventual failure of the pipes.
Poly B™ pipes can be subject to mechanical stress due to water pressure, temperature fluctuations, and improper installation. This stress can lead to cracks and leaks, particularly at the joints and fittings.
Many of the fittings used with Poly B™ pipes were made from acetal plastic, which is also susceptible to degradation and failure. These fittings can crack and leak, causing water damage to surrounding areas.
When Was Poly B™ Piping Banned?
There are two key dates on which polybutylene piping was banned:
- In 1997, the National Plumbing Code, which oversaw all plumbing trades in Canada, refused to recognize Poly B™ and banned its use for constructing any building requiring piping systems.
- In 2005, the government of Canada officially banned Poly B™ due to a substantial volume of lawsuits filed against Shell and Dupont. These lawsuits were over structural damage and property damage caused by ruptured Poly B™ piping throughout hundreds of homes. Shell and Dupont lost the lawsuit as Poly B™ was reported to be failing after a few years of installation, resulting in structural damage to drywalls, water damage, and costly restoration.
Poly B™ Insurance Coverage
Poly B™ piping has proven to be a huge liability for both homeowners and insurance companies. In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada deemed Poly B™ inadmissible to indemnity clauses. This means that no insurance company is required to ensure a home with Poly B™ piping under law.
Until recently, most insurance companies offered grandfather clauses to current customers with Poly B™ piping and leniency to new clients. However, due to the losses incurred by insurance companies, most of them are no longer willing to renew policies or insure new clients that come to them with Poly B™ in the home. Legally, they do not have to because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2005.
Buyer beware: If an insurance company does offer to insure the entire home itself, there are typically massive premiums and costly deductibles following a first leak.
Identifying Poly B™ Pipes in Your Home
Hire a professional inspector or try these methods to identify polybutylene pipes:
- Look for a blue stain on your water lines
- Check for a silver band on your pipes
- Examine your water bill for unusually high charges
- Notice any unusual odors
- Inspect the pipe markings for the letters “PB” followed by a series of numbers
- Look for grey, blue, or black pipes, especially near your water heater or main water shutoff valve
The Importance of Replacing Poly B™ Pipes
Due to the high failure rate and potential for significant water damage, it is essential to replace Poly B™ plumbing in your home as soon as possible. Replacing the pipes can prevent costly repairs and damage to your property, as well as ensure that your home meets current plumbing codes and can be insured without issue.
Urban Piping Ltd.: The Leader in Poly B™ Replacement in Canada
Urban Piping Ltd. is the leader in Poly B™ and piping replacement in Canada. With multiple Canadian offices, they service nearly every part of Western Canada. Their Polybutylene pipe replacement service offers a complete re-piping, drywall, and paint repair service for any commercial or residential building. All Poly B™ replacement work is done in-house by Urban Piping, and they do not hire any outside contractors.
Urban Piping Ltd.’s Expertise and Services
Urban Piping Ltd. consists of licensed and insured plumbers with decades of experience. Their team is dedicated to providing exceptional service and support during the Poly B™ replacement process. They specialize in:
- Poly B™ pipe replacement
- PEX pipe installation
- Drywall repair and finishing
- Paint touch-ups and restoration
The Poly B™ Replacement Process
Urban Piping Ltd. follows a comprehensive process to ensure a successful Poly B™ pipe replacement:
- Inspection: A thorough inspection of your home’s plumbing system is conducted to identify any Poly B™ pipes and assess their condition.
- Estimate: A detailed estimate is provided, outlining the cost of materials and labor for the pipe replacement project.
- Preparation: The work area is prepped, including the installation of dust barriers and protective coverings for floors and furniture.
- Re-piping: The existing Poly B™ pipes are carefully removed and replaced with high-quality PEX or copper pipes, depending on your preference and budget.
- Drywall and Paint Repair: Any drywall that was removed during the re-piping process is expertly repaired and repainted, ensuring a seamless finish.
- Clean-Up: The work area is cleaned, and all debris is removed from your property.
Urban Piping Ltd.’s Commitment to Customer Satisfaction
Urban Piping Ltd. is committed to providing the highest level of customer satisfaction. They understand the stress and disruption that a Poly B™ pipe replacement project can cause and strive to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. Their team of skilled professionals is dedicated to ensuring that your home is restored to its original condition, with minimal impact on your daily life.
Financing Options for Poly B™ Pipe Replacement
Understanding that replacing Poly B™ pipes can be a significant investment, Urban Piping Ltd. offers flexible financing options to help homeowners manage the cost. With various plans available, they can help you find a solution that suits your budget and financial situation.
The Poly B™ pipe leak lawsuit has had a lasting impact on homeowners and the plumbing industry. It serves as a reminder of the importance of using high-quality materials and adhering to industry standards. If your home has polybutylene pipes, it is crucial to have them replaced as soon as possible to prevent potential damage and ensure your home’s safety.
Urban Piping Ltd. is the Canadian leader in Poly B™ pipe replacement, offering comprehensive services to help homeowners address this critical issue. If you suspect that your home has polybutylene pipes, contact Urban Piping Ltd. today for a professional inspection and expert guidance on the best course of action for your situation.