When it comes to pipe leaks and damages, polybutylene pipes are much likelier to be targeted than other types of pipe for their resistance to extreme heat. A typical roof leak will only target asphalt or concrete pipes that are less prone to temperature damage from outdoor temperatures. Polybutylene piping, on the other hand, is typically exposed to high temperatures in industrial plants, storage facilities, and various other places deemed prone to extreme temperature changes. The result of exposure can result in a variety of pipe damages, each potentially costly in terms of repairs and replacement.
While industrial pipes are more common targets for lawsuits due to their increased vulnerability, homes built using polybutylene piping stand as an example of how easily these materials can become damaged. In cases where the materials were installed before the current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines were in place, there is an especially high likelihood that the piping may have been subjected to older practices that were not declared as such at the time of installation. These practices included using older heating systems with older vented combustion designs, leaving unsealed joints, and leaving the pipes in direct weather exposure, such as during a strong thunderstorm. All of these practices increased the likelihood of leaks and pipe damage that would later be blamed on the EPA.
As a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s increasing budgetary constraints, these older practices are no longer being permitted. If you were serviced with a water supply piping system in the late-70s, chances are that your local government or municipality was not keeping its water supply piping and other manufacturing units out of reach of older plastics. While the practice has been discontinued for most areas, there are still a number of municipalities that have continued to disregard federal rules for years. These municipal governments have an interest in protecting their water supply plumbing investments, so the possibility of a polybutylene pipe lawsuit makes them liable when damages are awarded to consumers who are harmed as a result of their municipal governments’ negligence in ignoring EPA regulations.
A qualified home inspector with knowledge of the hazards of polybutylene will determine if your home has been exposed to these dangers. The inspector will perform a visual examination of both inside and outside of your home using various tools including an infrared camera, to assess the amount of plastic resin leaks inside of your home. In many cases, a water sample will also be taken to determine if there is any presence of polybutylene pipe inside of your home. Once the home inspection has concluded, the inspector will present you with a recommendation for a potential replacement or a repair project.
Another means of identifying polybutylene pipes or plumbers is to hire a contractor to perform a full excavation of your home. During this time, a full-scale investigation will take place in order to identify polybutylene pipes and fixtures inside of your home. If possible, a sample of the inside plastic pipe will be collected during the excavation. If the sampling reveals that there are in fact in any inlet lines connected to the polybutylene plumbing, it is in your best interest to have those removed in order to avoid a lawsuit.
Polybutylene pipes and fittings are available in a number of different colors such as black, red, blue, green, yellow, white, gray, and many more. Each of the different colors of polybutylene piping has a number or code number printed on them according to what country they were manufactured in. By referencing the numbers on the pipe, an unlicensed contractor can legally alter, refill, repair, or return the plumbing product to its original state. Some of the common names for the various color-coded polybutylene pipes are EPDM, EPDO, PEX, PTFE, PVC, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and others. By knowing which name is for what material, it should be much easier to identify the type of plumbing product you have within your home.