Polybutylene? – A Buyer’s Concern

Widely used from around 1978 to 1995, polybutylene water supply pipes were once seen as the pipes of the future due to their ease of installation and low cost. Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was typically manufactured in a grey or white color with a dull finish and is estimated to have been installed in 6 – 10 million homes. However, it wasn’t until a few years later that problems began occurring with many homes’ water supply lines that used this material. It is believed that additives to water supply such as chlorine can weaken the polybutylene piping and fittings, causing flaking and brittleness. This in turn leads to micro-fractures that weaken the integrity of the pipes and may eventually cause water leaks.

Buyer’s searching for homes should always be aware of potential issues and this is simply one of the items to check off the list during a home inspection. The presence of polybutylene doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it should at least be known so that a buyer can make an educated decision regarding the home. Sometimes a buyer might consider replacement of the water pipes or at least be able to negotiate a better purchase price in this instance. Costs to replace water lines in a home can vary tremendously based upon the new material used, size of the home, accessibility, and other factors. Typically this will be at least $3,000 and may run upwards of $10,000. It is worth noting that polybutylene was used in a number of Tucson area homes, so be sure to check on this issue before making your purchase.

Knowledge of potential issues in homes leads to a much more educated decision being made. Often times buyers only focus on the size, layout or location of a home (which are all important) and leave questions unasked of real estate professionals and home inspectors. By educating yourself on as many home issues as possible you’ll be better informed and able to ask the right questions and make the right decisions on your next home purchase.

Stephen Woodall
REALTOR, GRI @ Long Realty Company

Stephen has made real estate his full-time career and passion since 2008, primarily specializing in the Foothills & the Northwest Tucson areas of Oro Valley and Marana. He is a multi-million dollar producer, representing both sellers & buyers. Stephen has tremendous experience in new home sales, listing & selling primary residences, listing & selling vacant land, listing & selling luxury homes, investment properties, rentals, and real estate development parcels.


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