Poly B™ plumbing issues have become a hot topic for homeowners in recent years. This is primarily due to the growing recognition of the potential drawbacks of poly b pipes, a common type of plastic pipe used in many home plumbing systems.
Poly B™, or polybutylene, is a type of plastic that was widely used for residential plumbing from 1985 until 1997 in Canada. At the time, it was seen as a cheaper and more flexible alternative to copper piping. But over time, many homeowners have discovered a variety of poly b plumbing issues that can cause significant damage to their homes.
What is Poly B™?
Before diving into the intricacies of poly b plumbing issues, it’s crucial to understand what exactly Poly B™ is.
Poly B™, or polybutylene, is a form of plastic that was widely used in the manufacturing of residential plumbing systems from the 1970s until the mid-1990s. A hallmark of Poly B™ pipes is their distinctive flexible grey pipe coloration, though sometimes they can also appear silvery or black.
Why was Poly B™ Popular?
During its heyday, poly b was chosen for its perceived benefits over other materials. For one, poly b pipes were more affordable than copper piping. The cost difference, combined with poly b piping’s flexibility, made it an appealing choice for builders and plumbers alike.
Another advantage was its resistance to corrosion. Unlike traditional metal pipes, poly b doesn’t corrode, which is a significant benefit in areas with aggressive water chemistry.
Poly B™ and Its Drawbacks
However, despite its initial popularity, poly b came with a slew of issues. Homeowners started noticing poly b failures, and over time, these failures led to numerous class action lawsuits.
The material was found to be susceptible to damage under specific conditions, such as exposure to excessive heat or excess chlorine. Poly b pipes could become brittle and crack over time, especially around the hot water tank or if the hot water tanks or heating systems had higher than recommended temperatures.
The use of certain fittings also posed problems. Original installations often used plastic fittings, which were prone to cracking and breaking over time. Later installations used copper or brass fittings with soft copper crimping rings, but these could also fail if not installed correctly.
In the wake of these discoveries, poly b production ceased in the mid-1990s. However, many homes built during its era of popularity still have poly b pipes, leading to a necessity for poly b pipe replacement services like those provided by Urban Piping.
While Poly B™ served its purpose during its time, its drawbacks outweigh its benefits in today’s context. This is why understanding what Poly B™ is and its potential issues is so crucial for homeowners dealing with these plumbing systems.
Poly B™ Pipes: A History
Poly B™ is often identified as a flexible, grey plastic pipe pipe. These pipes were usually connected with aluminum bands or soft copper crimping rings and plastic or brass fittings. Despite its initial popularity, a series of poly b failures and subsequent poly b lawsuits have raised questions about the long-term reliability of poly b plumbing systems.
The Most Common Poly B™ Plumbing Issues
Among the numerous challenges homeowners face, poly b plumbing issues stand out. Several issues can affect poly b plastic piping throughout, but the three most common include deterioration under high temperatures, chlorine degradation, and improper installation. Let’s dive deeper into these concerns.
Deterioration Under High Temperatures
Poly B™ pipes, also known as polybutylene pipes, are not designed to take water pressure or withstand excessive heat. When exposed to excessively high temperatures, these pipes can become brittle, leading to cracks. As these cracks propagate, the risk of water leaks and even catastrophic pipe failure increases.
The problem is particularly severe around the hot water tank. In these areas, poly b water systems can be literally baked over time, leading to an acceleration of the degradation process. High temperatures can also cause the soft copper crimping rings that secure poly b joints to expand and contract, which can eventually lead to leaks.
In light of this, BC Hydro recommends setting your hot water heater to a maximum of 60 degrees Celsius. This reduces the risk of overheating the pipes and can significantly prolong the lifespan of a poly b plumbing system.
In addition to heat, poly b pipes are also susceptible to damage from chlorine. This chemical is commonly used as a disinfectant in municipal water supplies to prevent bacteria forming.
However, chlorine can react with the polybutylene material, leading to flaking and the formation of micro-fractures in both the pipes and interior surface of the pipes. Over time, these tiny fractures can grow, ultimately leading to leaks or even pipe bursts.
A good practice is to install a water filtration system or a chlorine removal system in your utility room. This can help remove chlorine and extend the lifespan of your poly b plumbing system.
The last, but certainly not the least, of the common poly b plumbing issues is improper installation. Poly B™ pipes are flexible, which can make them difficult to install correctly. If the pipes are over crimped, bent too sharply, or if the brass metal insert fittings are not properly secured with metal bands, they can fail prematurely.
Improper installation can also result in leaking pipes. This can happen if the plastic insert fittings are not properly fitted to the pipe, or if the plastic fittings or plastic pipes themselves are not adequately tightened.
Furthermore, an improperly installed water meter could cause changes in water pressure that poly b pipes may not handle well. This underlines the importance of having a professional qualified plumber to handle the installation of your plumbing system.
At Urban Piping, we understand the intricacies of poly b plumbing and ensure that the installation is carried out correctly. We follow the guidelines set by the International Association and the Canadian Standards Association to guarantee that your plumbing system is not only properly installed but also compliant with the national plumbing code.
These are just a few of the common issues that can affect poly b plumbing systems. If you’re dealing with any of these, or if you’re just concerned about the state of your home’s plumbing, don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals at Urban Piping. We’re here to help!
Poly B™ Pipes Vs. Other Materials
When compared to copper or brass fittings and pipes, poly b shows its weakness. Copper and brass are resistant to many of the issues that plague poly b, such as high temperatures and chlorine degradation. While copper prices are higher, the long-term durability of these materials can make them a more cost-effective choice.
On the other hand, PEX pipes — or cross-linked polyethylene — have become a popular alternative to both poly b and copper. PEX pipes are resistant to both excessive heat and chlorine, making them a good choice for potable water systems.
Identifying and Addressing Poly B™ Plumbing Issues
If you suspect you have poly b plumbing in your home, it’s essential to get a thorough inspection. Certified home inspectors or a qualified plumber like those at Urban Piping can help you identify if your home has poly b.
Should you find poly b in your home’s plumbing, it’s recommended that you replace it sooner rather than later to avoid potential plumbing problems. Replacing poly b with other materials such as PEX or copper can save homeowners from dealing with major water damage down the road.
Poly B™ Replacement with Urban Piping
Urban Piping is a Calgary-based company specializing in poly b replacement. We understand the complexities of replacing poly b and offer a full-service approach to remove and replace existing poly b.
Our team uses high-quality materials and follows the National Plumbing Code and the standards set by the Canadian Standards Association. We can replace your existing poly b with more reliable materials like PEX piping or copper supply piping, depending on your needs and preferences.
Poly B™ plumbing issues are serious concerns that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Ignoring them can lead to water damage, which can be both costly and stressful. Luckily, companies like Urban Piping are here to help homeowners replace their poly b pipes and save their homes from potential disasters.
Homeowners should not take their plumbing systems lightly. By understanding the potential problems with poly b and taking proactive steps to replace it, they can protect their homes and their wallets.
If you suspect that you have poly b plumbing in your home, don’t hesitate to reach out to Urban Piping. Our team of professionals will help you resolve your plumbing issues and ensure that your home’s plumbing system is safe, reliable, and up to code.
Remember, your home is your biggest investment. Don’t let poly b plumbing issues jeopardize that.