polybutyl

Twenty years ago a plumber installed polybutylene pipe under my 19th Century house. Five years ago I had to pay him $100 to bring his crimping tool so I could replace my water heater. He told me not to worry about my polybutylene plumbing.
This week I found a joint dripping. I put a tub under it and in a couple of days the dripping stopped. Apparently I'd disturbed the joint by bumping the pipe, and it reseated itself. A neighbor told me that can happen.
I've read that polybutylene is still widely used because installation is quick and doesn't require much skill. Modern installations don't use T connections. The crimping tool must be kept in calibration because if it's too tight the pipe can split later. The new system uses pairs of copper bands. Lab tests have shown that chemicals in chlorinated water can damage the plastic once used in connectors, but nobody has tested the pipe in chlorinated water.
Should I worry about my plumbing?
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sawney beane wrote:

I sure would. http://www.propex.com/C_f_env_polybu.htm
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Travis Jordan wrote:

They say you can't predict whether you'll have trouble.
According to the Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center, to be covered, a leak must occur within so many years of installation. That period varies from 10 to 16 years depending on the type of dwelling and the type of fittings.
http://www.pbpipe.com/index1.htm
I wonder if that reflects a consensus that installations that don't leak within the designated period will probably be okay. I've read that polybutylene was installed in 6 million homes and that, because pipes usually run in walls, the average replacement costs $4,000. The settlement was $1 billion, which would anticipate claims from 4% of installations.
Some cities added polybutylene to their lists of acceptable plumbing for new houses in the 1990s, after the problems surfaced. It seems they still sell it in the UK. I wonder if that means it can be reliable.
Mine is under the house, which would make replacement cheaper. A drip wouldn't cause rotting but could make the soil hospitable for termites. A split could be very inconvenient.
I've read that plumbers preferred polybutylene because homeowners can't get the crimpers. That's why I was unable to replace my water heater myself. It would be nice to have pipes I could fix myself.
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sawney beane wrote:

Phooey.
http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com /(llquhlyyzjfyen45mlrwhvnl)/ProductDetails.aspx?SKU@04966 http://www.plumbingandsupply.com/product_info.php?products_id 3
or even: (Amazon.com product link shortened)"8013
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Travis Jordan wrote:

Or all in one place: http://www.pexconnection.com/categories.php?catID=1
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Travis Jordan wrote:

That's PEX.
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sawney beane wrote:

And PB tools, too. Here's a $50 universal crimper.
http://www.pexconnection.com/products.php?pID &catID=1%22
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Travis Jordan wrote:

I see they have a manual for crimping PEX. I wonder if there are different considerations for polybutylene.
The fact that they sell lots of PB hardware is assuring. If PB were destined to fail, who would be repairing it?
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Travis Jordan wrote:

Here's the source who said polybutylene was popular with plumbers because homeowners would have trouble getting crimpers:
http://www.ag.arizona.edu/AZWATER/ALT/awr/nov94/leaks.html

http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com /(llquhlyyzjfyen45mlrwhvnl)/ProductDetails.aspx?SKU@04966
So if I have only two sizes of polybutylene pipe, I'd need to spend $300 to $350 on crimpers. I don't know how to calibrate them, which means I could end up with a pipe splitting some night.

(Amazon.com product link shortened)"8013
If a PEX crimper would work on polybutylene, I might buy it.
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Why not just use the Qest (sp?) compression fittings? No crimper required. I've used pb with compression fittings for at least 20 years. No leaks, no splits, no drips. Oh yeah, and no water hammer and no pipe sweating but they're advantages of pb (and PEX), not the fittings.
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snipped-for-privacy@NotRealISP.gov wrote:

You've made my day. I'm confident that I can work with compression fittings. If I begin to have trouble with my PB, compression fittings will allow me to replace it piecemeal, and I can replace a water heater without calling the plumber.
Checking out Qest fittings led me to an faq that did a lot to assure me: http://www.plumbingstore.com/polyb.html#faq
A master plumber says he has seen failures in every kind of pipe except PB, and that's why so many love it. They don't dare defend it publicly for fear of being sued. Lawyers and competitors produced a distorted image. It's still popular in Europe.
I've wondered why it was hard to find any advice on PB written in the last ten years. I've inferred that perhaps it's because few of the 6 million American installations have encountered problems.
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Glad to be of help. BTW if you do continue with the Qest fittings you'll find that you can make the transition to brass (or copper) by using one half of a brass union (the non-moveable part) and just the nut, stainless ring, and the bungee-thingee (technical term <g> -- it's the part that slips on the pipe and actually forms the seal) from the Qest fitting. That way you buy one Qest tee and it gives you three nuts to transition to the brass/copper.
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