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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

The Risks of Commercial Polybutylene Piping

9/27/2021 (Permalink)

Pipe bursting. If you cannot replace the pipes in the near future, you should plan for potential damage.

If you have an older commercial property, it may have polybutylene pipes. As a staple of late-twentieth-century construction, it was widely implemented as a cheaper alternative to traditional piping. This material was later found to have problems with longevity. Your Beverly Hills, CA, business could be at risk because of this pipe type, and here is what to look for and consider.

Identifying the Pipes

The most widely implemented use for this material was to feed water from a water line into a commercial building. The polymer typically comes in a few colors: white, gray, and blue. These pipes are typically located in or around a number of locations:

• Basements
• Utilities
• Water meters
• Shutoff valves
• Water heaters

If you are unsure of what material your business utilizes, an inspector or plumber may be able to give you a definitive answer. The tubing types often look similar and can easily be misidentified by untrained individuals.

Considering Reasons to Replace

A class-action lawsuit in 1995, Cox v. Shell Oil, won in favor of consumers with the conclusion that polybutylene pipes were damaged too easily and were not a proper installation. It phased out of the market in the United States following that.

Typical chemicals in the water supply, such as chlorine, deteriorate the interior of the pipe until it breaks. This risks a pipe break leading to costly water damage. Local building codes may even explicitly forbid the polymer piping from being used due to these risks.

Replacing the Pipes

With the knowledge of why the pipes are dangerous, you are likely wondering how to remedy it. You can work out what’s salvageable from your old system with the assistance of a plumber. Most likely, you will be advised to install new plumbing.

Treating a Broken Pipe

If you cannot replace the pipes in the near future, you should plan for potential damage. An expert water damage treatment crew can remove water from the affected areas of your property. Alternatively, updated plumbing and proper maintenance of the system can help prevent repair costs related to any problematic polybutylene.

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