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Old 07-22-2008, 09:36 PM
 
20 posts, read 75,646 times
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I'm under contract for a home with Polybutylene Plumbing in Roswell, GA. A few people are telling me to ask the sellers to pay to have the home repiped with copper. I don't think it's a big deal. Most of the homes that I was looking at had that kind of plumbing. It can't be that bad if so many people have that type of plumbing.

What does everyone think?
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:32 PM
 
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
9,190 posts, read 29,573,979 times
Reputation: 5091
If it helps, here are a few comments I found online through a friend who's a plumber who showed me these when I was having pipes changed in my house...

"Sorry to pop your bubble, but PVC is safe for plumbing. Another product was banned, polybutylene. It failed structurally after a few years. It was used for hot water. PVC is not adequate for temperatures of most hot water in most houses. When in doubt, go copper."

and one more...

"I am a general contractor in Texas, I have experience with all types of pipe and can comment on this subject.copper is the best if you can afford it. pvc will last forever with proper glue joints and below 100 degrees max temp. above that it will weaken and fail over time. I use the pvc in underground and interior wall applications for COLD WATER ONLY.
CPVC is less expensive than copper so I am using it on the hot water in homes only. But it will become brittle with time
."


Personally I'd ask for copper, but you can also ask for a reduction in price of the home and just hire someone to do it yourself. There have been stories about lawsuits filed by home owners whos homes were piped with polybutylene in the past - sounds like nasty stuff which I fortunately didn't have to deal with.
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Old 07-22-2008, 11:50 PM
 
Location: East Cobb
2,206 posts, read 5,947,225 times
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I believe polybutylene (which I think is not the same as PVC) was very widely used in new construction in the 1980s. Our house in Roswell, GA (the East Cobb part) had it too.

PB is no longer used because it turned out to be problematic. The joints are prone to leaking. We've lived in our house for 6 years, originally as tenants and subsequently as owners. We had no plumbing issues at all until last Christmas Eve, when our dining room ceiling started to leak. My husband, who's luckily a competent amateur plumber, announced he was going to redo the entire house in copper. And indeed he did. In fact, he hasn't finished repairing all the holes in the drywall yet.

During the re-plumbing process, at social occasions when the topic came up, we were told a few PB horror stories. As you say, it's in really a lot of houses, and I guess a lot of people live with it, but it is a risk. If you aren't into ripping holes all over your house and soldering copper pipes personally, I hear it's really expensive to get replaced professionally. So this is something to consider, for sure.
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:55 AM
 
Location: Canton, GA
247 posts, read 1,149,622 times
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There was a class action lawsuit. You can still file a claim until Sept 1 2008 I think. Here is the link Polybutylene Plumbing and Pipe Replacement-Polybutylene Lawsuit and Class Action Settlement Information and here's a really great Information Site What You Need to Know About Polybutylene Plumbing
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:06 AM
 
9,124 posts, read 32,098,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socaldiver View Post
I'm under contract for a home with Polybutylene Plumbing in Roswell, GA. A few people are telling me to ask the sellers to pay to have the home repiped with copper. I don't think it's a big deal. Most of the homes that I was looking at had that kind of plumbing. It can't be that bad if so many people have that type of plumbing.
It's not a big deal- while it's not leaking. The problem is, there's a good chance that it will start leaking at some point, and at that point you'll be faced with a large bill to replace it, as well as to repair any damage caused by the leak.

Saying "it can't be that bad if so many people have it" is like saying "smoking can't be that bad for you if so many people do it and the cigarette companies keep selling cigarettes, right?".........
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:27 AM
 
269 posts, read 943,005 times
Reputation: 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by socaldiver View Post
I'm under contract for a home with Polybutylene Plumbing in Roswell, GA. A few people are telling me to ask the sellers to pay to have the home repiped with copper. I don't think it's a big deal. Most of the homes that I was looking at had that kind of plumbing. It can't be that bad if so many people have that type of plumbing.

What does everyone think?
Personally, I wouldn't buy it. You don't absolutely need to have it replumbed with copper -- you can use cheaper PVC for the cold water lines, although copper is best. I would strongly advise copper for the main line, since a leak means an expensive repair (digging up the yard), and you have to have it for hot water lines. I doubt a plumber would even install PVC for a hot water line.

Otherwise, you are going to have to replace it piece by piece as it fails. Doing a replumb is infinitely easier, not to mention less expensive, if the house is vacant. The perfect time is when buying/selling, since the cost can be rolled into the mortgage.

If the seller can't afford the cash to replace it before sale, you can get an improvement loan from a mortgage company as part of the mortgage. It's still a pain in the neck. I wouldn't do it unless the house were an incredible bargain.

The class action settlement for purchases after 1999 provides for only 10% of the cost/damage from a leak, and that's assuming there is any money left.

This might be moot, though. You might not be able to break the contract if the condition was fully explained in the offer.
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:28 AM
 
Location: N GA Mountains
247 posts, read 1,153,362 times
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I purchased a house in 1996 with polybutylene plumbing and filed a claim to have it replumbed as part of the class action lawsuit. It was replumbed; and I was paid around 10K for damages; i.e. bathroom leaks, flooding basement, ruining floor, ceiling etc...
Check to see if filing a claim with the class action lawsuit is still an option.

I would absolutely have the sellers discount the price of the house by the amount of the replumb because this product will leak eventually. Get it taken care of while the house is empty, I survived having it re-plumbed while living in it and wouldn't recommend that if there is another way.
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Atlanta,Ga
826 posts, read 2,733,713 times
Reputation: 237
I wouldn't buy a house with those pipes. A friend of mine had a house with those type of pipes and came home one day to find her entire front yard flooded. They had burst.
When searching for a house I was given two pieces of advice from my Grandfather:

Don't get an ARM mortgage

Don't buy a house with Polybutylene Plumbing.
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:46 AM
 
9,124 posts, read 32,098,244 times
Reputation: 3519
Quote:
Originally Posted by masonbarge View Post
Personally, I wouldn't buy it. You don't absolutely need to have it replumbed with copper -- you can use cheaper PVC for the cold water lines, although copper is best. I would strongly advise copper for the main line, since a leak means an expensive repair (digging up the yard), and you have to have it for hot water lines. I doubt a plumber would even install PVC for a hot water line.
Actually, the most cost effective solution for re-plumbing the house would be to use PEX, since it can be fished through the walls far easier than copper or PVC. PVC can't be used for hot water, as it's not rated for high temperatures, but CPVC can. PEX would be my first choice, followed by CPVC for both hot and cold, and copper as a last choice. Copper has gotten insanely expensive in the past few years, and it provides no added benefit to justify that cost.
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:56 AM
 
Location: N GA Mountains
247 posts, read 1,153,362 times
Reputation: 91
In order to file a claim on the class action lawsuit, there has to be a leak or evidence of a leak. If the pipes have not failed (yet) you cannot file a claim on the lawsuit.
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