Canadian Leader in Poly B Replacement

The Complete Guide to Poly B™ Piping And how to Hire a Qualified Contractor

Recognized as the leading authority on Poly B™ Piping, Urban Piping has not only been the go-to informational resource but has also spearheaded more Poly B™ remediations than all other companies combined.

Urban Piping is offering a FREE copy of our in-depth guide on Poly B™ Piping. This exclusive guide is packed with crucial insights, helping you navigate the intricacies of Poly B™ piping and guiding you on what to prioritize when seeking a Poly B™ specialist.

Every homeowner, realtor, or home inspector grappling with Poly B™ piping challenges should consider this guide indispensable.

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What is Poly B™ piping?

Poly B™, also known as polybutylene, served as a popular plumbing material for both residential and commercial structures from 1985 to 1997. This lightweight and cost-effective alternative to copper pipes was a go-to choice for many builders. Over the years, Poly B™ became a staple in numerous Canadian households, with over 700,000 homes benefiting from its use.

Poly B™ was common in North America, almost all new builds and renovations that took place during these years used this type of pipe. Poly B™ has been banned due to extensive water and property damage caused by it’s high failure rates. 

Recognizing poly-b plumbing is straightforward. Typically, these are light grey plastic tubes complemented by copper joints and bends. To determine if your residence utilizes poly-b plumbing, inspect areas like your basement’s ceiling, especially around the utility section. If you spot grey tubes paired with copper connectors, it’s a clear indication of polybutylene plumbing. For a comprehensive assessment, consider reaching out to a certified home inspection body in your locality.

Despite its initial popularity, poly-b plumbing systems faced discontinuation in favor of more contemporary solutions. The primary reason? Their vulnerability to damage over time. Many homeowners reported pipe bursts and leaks, leading to significant water damage. The aftermath of such incidents often involved lengthy insurance claims, some of which were not even covered due to the numerous class action lawsuits against poly-b plumbing. For homeowners, the presence of poly-b pipes signifies a looming risk of potential failure.

Legal claims against poly-b plumbing manufacturers have long expired. The settlement from the class-action lawsuit against poly-b only covered a fraction of the replacement and damage costs, and that too for claims made by 2005 or within 15 years of installation. The most prudent approach for homeowners is to proactively opt for a complete home re-piping, ensuring they address the issue before any leaks occur. Merely patching up sections of the poly-b system is a temporary fix, as leaks tend to recur in multiple areas.

The expense of transitioning from poly-b to a more reliable piping system, like pex piping, largely depends on your home’s dimensions. Urban Piping’s seasoned plumbing experts can assist in this transition, ensuring a seamless replacement process. While there’s an initial cost involved, it’s a worthwhile investment to prevent unforeseen water damage. For any queries related to poly-b plumbing in western Canada, Urban Piping stands ready to offer its expertise in whole-home re-piping.

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What does Poly B™ Piping look like?

If your home was built or renovated between 1985 and 1997, it is crucial to have your home inspected for possible Poly B™ pipes. The first way to identify Poly B™ piping is by its colours. Polybutylene piping is made in blue, silvery gray, and black colours. Blue pipes were used mainly for cold water, while black and silvery gray were used interchangeably for indoor and outdoor purposes.

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Why does Poly B™ piping fail?

When it was first introduced to the plumbing industry, Poly B™ was widely accepted due to its affordability and flexibility. However, it was not long when its molecular flaws came to light and the pipe started to rupture and fail woefully. This caused water leakage and property damage worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The molecular bonds inside Poly B™ Piping are unstable causing the pipe to crack under certain environmental strains. The following scenarios speed up the deterioration process of the piping.

If you are looking for a short answer, it is 100%. It is not a question about if it will fail; but when it will fail. The different factors involved with the deterioration of the piping make the exact time frames impossible to determine. Here are some notable factors in determining the failure rate of Poly B™™ piping:

If the piping was manufactured in a hotter climate, the rate of failure increases instead of a colder setting. We know that high heat is a critical factor in the deterioration of the piping.

Was the piping transported in a closed semi-trailer or an open flatbed? UV light during the transportation increases the failure rate of the piping.

Often, the piping was stored outside in the sun until the tradesmen were ready to install it into a home. Exposure to weather elements and UV light would cause quick deterioration of the piping.

New home building companies working with large contractors typically deliver all of the materials for an entire block of houses at one time. These materials are placed either on the driveway or inside the garage while the teams work through home by home. Poly B™™ Piping may have been exposed to UV light and temperature changes for months before even being installed in the home, causing a higher failure rate.

Is it used in a well water supply system or a high chlorine municipal setting? If the Poly B piping was used in a high chlorine setting the pipe would deteriorate quickly causing leaking pipes. 

Lawsuits, Litigation, and Insurance

When was Poly B™ Banned?

There are 2 different dates on which polybutylene piping was banned.

The use of Poly B™ was banned by the National Plumbing Code, which oversaw all plumbing trades in Canada and refused to recognize Poly B™ after 1997. The pipe was disallowed to be used to construct any building requiring piping systems.

The government of Canada officially banned Poly B™™ in 2005. The ban’s reasoning was that a substantial volume of lawsuits were filed against Shell and Dupont over structural damage and property damage caused by ruptured Poly B™ piping throughout hundreds of homes. Poly B™ was reported to be failing after a few years of installation.

This resulted in structural damage to drywalls, water damage, and costly restoration. Shell and Dupont lost the lawsuit.

Poly B™ Lawsuits and Litigation History

Combined class-action lawsuits made Poly B™ one of the highest pre-settlement lawsuits in North American history. The total combined lawsuits amount to multiple billions of dollars.

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 have offered grandfather clauses to current customers with Poly B™ piping and leniency to new clients. However, because of 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 home, there are typically massive premiums and costly deductibles following a first leak.

Real Estate and Poly B™ Piping

There is a boom in Alberta’s real estate market with decade-low housing prices and historically low-interest rates. This means that houses are moving regardless of Poly B™ piping, and many buyers and sellers may be caught off guard if they are unaware of the Poly B™ piping in the home and the risks involved.

Buying a Home with Poly B™

As a buyer, if you have found a home, but it has Polybutylene installed, you may feel discouraged about buying the house. Most houses built in the 80s and 90s are top-quality builds and are often located in highly desirable neighborhoods with great amenities. A quick remediation will have your new home in tip-top shape and give you peace of mind that your domestic water plumbing system is worry-free for years to come.

However, it is important to mention that sellers do not repipe homes before putting up their properties for sale. Before you complete the purchasing contract with the seller of the home with Polybutylene piping, inform your real estate agent to tell the seller to either:

Selling a Home with Poly B™

If you are selling a home with Poly B™ piping, you may be faced with an educated buyer who is aware of these Poly B™ issues, and this person may be unable to get home insurance upon purchasing the home.

There are typically three options…

Poly B™ and Home inspectors

A qualified home inspector should be familiar with Poly B™™ and the piping risks in a home. They should not implement scare tactics but educate the homeowner on the risks and educate them on their options in dealing with it.

Poly B™ FAQ Videos

Here is our Poly B™ Replacement Newscast as well 31 Poly B™ FAQ videos to help our customers with all of the commonly asked questions we typically get asked about Poly B™ Piping.

Poly B™ Video Series

55 Videos
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Poly B™ Pipe Replacement

The Poly B™ Replacement Options

Installing a new plumbing system into a building requires adequate knowledge about the right material for performance, efficiency, safety, and durability. Different types of pipes are available for piping purposes, and they each come with a different estimated life expectancy. Here is a list of available home piping options.

Urban Piping only offers the highest quality Class A PEX Piping in All Pipe Replacements

Class A PEX Piping
(High-Grade)

Sub-Standard

Class B PEX Piping
(Mid-Grade)

Sub-Standard

Class C PEX Piping
(Low-Grade)

Poly B Replacement Case Studies

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