What is the problem with polybutylene or “gray poly”? Why does gray poly fail?
Over time polybutylene pipes deteriorate from the inside due to chemical reactions with compounds used to sanitize our drinking water. The poly becomes brittle and eventually develops tiny fissures. These fissures connect together and eventually form a small crack that water will slowly escape through.
How long does it take polybutylene pipe to fail?
Exactly how long it takes a home with gray poly to fail is a difficult question to answer. The polybutylene systems that failed the quickest were due to defective fittings. The current wave of polybutylene failures are occurring due to chemical breakdown of the actual pipes itself and not the fittings. If you have a home with gray poly you should be prepared for leaks to develop at any time.
How do I know when my polybutylene pipes are leaking?
Be on the lookout for signs of slow water seepage from pipes. Since these pipes can be hidden from view behind walls, above ceiling, or in a concrete slab, signs of a leak could include seeing a wet spot on a wall or floor or have a gradually increasing water bill. It is also possible there may be a noticeable a mildew smell in the home.
What precautions should I take if my house has polybutylene?
Turning the water supply off when you are going to be away from the home especially for extended periods. Check the pressure regular valve for proper function using a pressure gauge. Static pressure should never be higher than 80 PSI and should probably be even low in a house with PB. Treat polybutylene pipes with care. If you have exposed pipes you should avoid moving or jostling them.
Will my homeowner’s insurance policy cover the cost of the pipe replacement?
Homeowner’s insurance typically pays for restoration of the home in the event of flood damage caused by a leaking water pipe in the walls, ceiling, crawl space. Insurance providers do not typically pay for the plumbing work itself. Sometimes we are able to speak with the adjuster who will make allowances to offset some of the cost of wall repair and painting associated with the repipe. In the case of a leak in the slab, insurance providers are usually able to substantially offset the cost of a repipe to avoid the damage cause by jackhammering a slab to make a repair.
How much is the cost of a polybutylene pipe replacement?
A number of factors determine the cost of a pipe replacement in your home. These factors include the size of the home, the number of plumbing fixtures, ceiling and wall finishes, the type of foundation (slab, crawlspace, basement), and the materials used. Prices offered by a repipe specialist (such as Plumbing Express) are often much lower than people expect after having had an estimate from a retail service plumbing company.
Should I list a home with polybutylene pipe in it?
Some of the best realtors advise their client to make major repairs in advance and list their home only when it is free of major defects and in a “clean” condition. These realtors know from experience that many qualified prospective buyers will avoid properties with major issues such as polybutylene plumbing unless major concessions are made. Replacing the polybutylene prior to listing takes away a major bargaining chip that buyers can leverage to reduce the sale price. Fixing major defects allows sellers to close more quickly and at a higher profit.
What are some myths about polybutylene?
As is true with many aspects of the plumbing system, there is misinformation passed around. Probably the most common misnomer about gray poly is that polybutylene systems with copper fittings will not leak. It is true that gray poly systems with copper fittings have lasted longer because the fittings are less likely to fail. However, the gray poly pipe itself in a system with copper fittings is just as likely to leak as in a system with other fittings. The chemical deterioration of polybutylene is not slowed down by the type of fittings in the system.
What is polybutylene? What are poly pipes?
Polybutylene is the chemical name of the plastic used to make infamous gray poly pipes. Gray poly pipes were widely used for a couple of decades in residential new construction in the US. Gray poly water pipes are no longer allowed to be used for residential plumbing applications due to their tendency to degrade over time through exposure to compounds present in municipal drinking water that are used for water treatment.
Can I finance my pipe replacement?
We offer several payment option including including 12 month special financing with approved credit through Wells Fargo Financial National Bank. If approved, client can take advantage of 12 month special financing. This program has been a huge success and is very popular among our clients.
How is Plumbing Express different from competing repipe specialists?
Plumbing Express is a well established company with a brick-and-mortar office location. We use a team of W2 employees instead of independent sub-contractors. We use the high quality pipe, valve, and fittings instead of imported knockoffs. Our drywall repair and painting are not performed by the plumbers. We never run pipes in the attic unless it is absolutely necessary. We believe it is imperative to visit the jobsite to give an accurate price quote and to ensure the job goes smoothly.
What kind of pipe should I use to replace my polybutylene?
Our team has repiped thousands of homes over the years and we have had good luck with Flowguard Gold CPVC pipe and with Nibco hard copper pipe. We believe both of these materials have stood the test of time. Since we provide one of the best (if not the absolute best) warranties on the market, we use top notch materials. At this time we do not recommend “pex” type tubing for interior water pipes but we do typically use pex products for water service lines. The main thing consumers have to watch out for is companies who employ independent subcontractors who provide their own materials for jobs. Many times these subcontractors will use the cheapest most generic pipe, fittings, and valves available. These are made overseas. We have come across lots of jobs where cheap piping from China has had multiple failures to the point that another repipe is warranted.
Does polybutylene plumbing require lower pressure?
Having lower than normal pressure in a polybutylene system can delay the formation of leaks. Higher static pressure in degraded polybutylene will cause leaks sooner than low pressure in a degraded polybutylene system. Lower pressure can also decrease the performance of your plumbing system..
Can polybutylene pipe be glued?
If you are asking this question, you should not attempt to repair the polybutylene pipe yourself. Repairs on polybutylene are typically made using push-type fittings. All repairs on polybutylene are unreliable and should be monitored for failure. Do yourself and your household a favor by calling a professional plumber. Our number is: 404-236-6535.
What is a polybutylene manifold?
A manifold is a central distribution point for a plumbing system. A manifold is a large injection molded chamber typically having one inlet for the water supply and multiple outlets. The advantage of a manifold system is that it provides individual shutoffs for each fixture in your home. The disadvantage of a manifold is that it requires much more piping material and labor to install. Manifold systems were popular with polybutylene piped homes and are currently employed with pex piping systems. Manifolds are typically installed as new construction and not as retro-fit.
Pipe Replacement Process
What is a slab? What is a slab leak? What should I do about a slab leak?
A "slab" is the concrete foundation that many houses are built on. It is very common to have plumbing pipes encased in the concrete slab. For various reasons these pipes encased in the concrete slab can develop leaks - these leaks are referred to as "slab leaks." Slab leaks in pipes typically develop due to a chemical reaction. Gray Poly pipes reacts with chlorine in the water over a long period of time. Copper pipes, when not properly sleeved at the time of installation can react with the soil and concrete to develope leaks. Slab leaks can also occur for other unknown reasons.
We typically recommend a partial or complete repipe to bypass pipes in the slab as opposed to repairing the pipe in the slab. Repairing slab pipes is very invasive and costly and we do not recommend it. Slab repairs involve jackhammering the slab, removing flooring, basboard, etc. Also, it is very common for mulitple slab leaks to exist at the same time or for a slab leak to develope in a different place soon after one repair has been made. The means for locating slab leak can be inaccurate. Pipe replacement is often the most economical route because it actually ads value to the home instead of being a "band aid." Insurance companies will often apply a portion of what would be a slab repair claim to a complete home pipe replacement.
How many holes will be cut in the walls and ceiling for my pipe replacement?
A typical home has between 15 and 35 sheet rock cuts. A number of factors including the number of plumbing fixtures and design of the house determine the number of holes that are cut. Since part of the Plumbing Express repipe includes sheet rock repair, we do try to minimize the number of cuts.
Is drywall repair included in my pipe replacement?
Unless the customer specifies otherwise, we alway include sheetrock repair, paint match and ceiling texture match in our complete pipe replacement. It's truly turn-key.
Can I have a price over the phone from Plumbing Express?
Because we need to be aware of and take into account the unique challenges present in a house, it is better have Plumbing Express give a free on-site inspection and quote. We understand that sometimes potential clients are under a time constraint for various reason so we can give a close idea of the price over the phone.
Can Plumbing Express give me service today?
If we can, we will. We try to prioritize dire plumbing situations. Give us a call and we can discuss our availability with you.
Do people stay in the home while the pipes are being replaced?
The vast majority of our clients do stay in the home while it is being re-piped. We are sure to restore water at the end of each day and clean up plastic that has been deployed to control debris. While a pipe replacement is a major project, we minimize our foot print.
Any person with an extreme sensitivity to dust or serious medical conditions should NOT stay in the home during the repipe.
How long does a pipe replacement take?
Most of our repipes are substantially complete within 2 to 3 working days. Larger or more complicated homes with more wall and ceiling cuts can take four or five days to complete. The job is broken down into two parts 1) Plumbing 2) Sheet rock Repairs.
Can you match the texture on my ceiling?
We are exceptionally skilled at matching and blending ceiling textures including popcorn ceilings (course, medium, and fine textures) and stipple ceilings. Our work is exceptional and your attention will not be drawn to our access areas.
I have defective (leaking) pipes in the concrete slab my home is built on. How do you replace these pipes in my slab?
After our pipe replacement, the water distribution pipes in your slab will no longer be in use. Our process bypasses slab pipes so that your home will no longer be susceptible to a slab leak. If your water service line is also polybutylene penetrating the slab, that pipe can also be bypassed as a separate item in the scope of work.
How is Plumbing Express different from competing service plumbers with respect to repiping services?
Because our plumbers have seen so many different home configurations, they are able to quickly assess an ideal approach to the repipe of your home. We have a proven method that is efficient and reliable. We use a large amount of plastic sheeting and drop clothes to help protect your home and it’s contents from construction debris and dust.
We use premium piping materials and valves. We include drywall repairs and because we do, the plumbers minimize cutting drywall. Our drywall and paint techs are special people who do great work (everyone at Plumbing Express is a W2 employee and not a subcontractor).
Plumbers who occasionally repipe houses are definitely slower, do more damage to the home finishes, do not include sheetrock repair, and often often do a substandard job simply due to lack of experience. Our experience and skill are the reason realtors trust us with their clients - we provide a good value and don’t stall or otherwise affect the home sale.
What is an interior pipe replacement?
An interior pipe replacement is a replacement of the home’s potable water distribution system. The potable water distribution system is defined as: Pipes within a structure that convey water from the water service pipe to the points of utilization. Our standard interior repipe includes replacement of all pipes from the interior (main) shutoff valve to all the fixtures.
Our repipe service differs from other plumbing companies because we repair the home finishes such as drywall, paint, ceiling texture by default as specified in our Interior Repipe Agreement.
Do you offer free polybutylene inspections?
Yes we do offer free polybutylene inspections. These inspections and quotes are especially useful to clients who are buying or selling a home because the presence of polybutylene affects the value of your home.
Sewer & Drain
How much should I use my garbage disposer?
Your garbage disposer is intended to be used to dispose of small amounts of kitchen waste so don't look at your garbage disposer as an alternative to your trash can either. If you have more than a cup of stuff to dispose of, just throw it in the trash. Large amounts of ground kitchen waste can cause a serious blockage further down the drain line and can require a serious effort to dislodge.
What is a main line blockage?
When talking about the drain system, the "main line" refers to the home/building sewer. According to the 2012 International Plumbing Code, a building sewer (aka the "main line") is defined as:
"That part of the drainage system that extends from the end of the building drain and conveys the discharge to a public sewer, private sewer, individual sewage disposal system or other point of disposal.
Basically this mean the drain pipe in your yard. When the main line is blocked you may notice backups in your tub/shower, gurgling in toilet, or water flowing out of a sewer cleanout port in your yard. Main line blockages can cause property damage and unsafe conditions. You should cease running any water and contact a plumber immediately if you have a main line blockage.
What chemicals can I use on my drain system?
Popular drain opening chemicals can be strong organic solvents and should be carefully handled. We generally do not recommend drain opening chemicals although they can be effective opening local drains such as a sink or shower. Drain opening is best accomplished by using a mechanical means such as an auger or plunger. Chemicals never work on major drain clogs such as a main line blockage. The only way to open these type of drain clogs is by using a powerful sewer auger or a hydro jet.
Enzymes (such as those sold by Bioclean and Zep) are good for keeping drains open on a preventative basis. These products send sludge eating microbes into your drain system to keep the sidewalls of the pipe clean. This reduces friction and waste flows though the pipe and decreases the probability of a blockage.
Do I need a drain pan for my water heater?
If you are in the Great State of Georgia, a water heater drain pan usually isn’t necessary. A water heater drain pan is required when the water heater is located above a ceiling or in an attic. Let’s turn our codebooks to section 504.7 in the 2014 Amendments to the 2012 International. It says:
“504.7 Required pan. Pans shall be installed under storage-type water heaters or water heater storage tanks installed in attics or above ceilings. The pan shall be galvanized steel having a minimum thickness of 24 gauge, or other pans approved for such use. Pans are not required under tankless water heaters. (Effective January 1, 2014)”
Water heater drain pans can provide a false sense of security. If your water heater develops a hole that is significant in size, it can easily overwhelm the drain on the pan and overflow.
Is electric or gas a better fuel source for a water heater?
Currently Natural Gas is clearly a better fuel than electric for heating hot water in Georgia. Gas water heaters have a better recovery rate (they produce more hot water) and cost about half as much to heat a gallon of water compared to electric. If you think electric is more environmentally friend - you’re wrong at least for now. Most of the electricity produced in Georgia is generated from burning fossil fuels. When you take into account the transmission loss of electricity it has a larger carbon footprint than gas for heating water. People in rural areas with no gas service should use electric unless they have money to burn on propane because propane is much more costly than electric for heating water.
Free Plumbing Consult:
Free Consult with a Licensed Plumber
Providing turn-key pipe replacement and general plumbing in Greater Metro Atlanta & North Georgia. Call us at (770) 696-1410. Our number one goal is to answer your questions and provide great service. Give us a chance to earn your business.
Definitely the best choice for your interior work.
I had all of the old pipes in my 18-year-old home removed and replaced. Plumbing Express did an exceptional job on the interior work. They matched all of the tile and grout, cleaned the site, and made it impossible to tell they had even been there…
Exceeded our high expectations.
We had just moved here and needed all of our piping changed to PVC, so we took their advice and recommendations. After hearing from our neighbors, we figured they would do a good job. They ended up doing an excellent job!
Plumbing Express was punctual, got the work done in a very tight time frame, and the quality was good. The employees were very courteous, on time, and very professional.
This team is professional, thorough, and friendly. The interior of our home looks great. There is no trace of work being done… I actually think it looks better than it did before the job! The patching and paint work are impeccable.
Interior Polybutylene Re-piping with absolutely beautiful sheet rock repair.