what is b-poly



It’s very difficult to tell what condition Poly-B piping is in. Home inspectors can look for obvious signs, such as visible repairs or improper installation. But damage to the pipes begins from the inside where you can’t see it. 

Inter NACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) advises that as leakage can happen without any warning, plumbers often recommend replacing Poly-B pipes with something else (such as PEX or copper). Not only may you have difficulty getting insurance, but Poly-B plumbing can discourage potential buyers from purchasing your home, should you decide to move. 

There are things you can do to extend the life of the Poly-B pipes, but most experts say that the best solution is usually to replace the entire system.

Take a look at Jon Eakes’ website. He has asked Canadian homeowners to write in if they’ve had issues with their Poly-B plumbing. This is quite an eye-opener.

What can you do to maintain your Poly-B plumbing?


 If you have Poly-B plumbing in your home, it is almost inevitable that you’ll be replacing it at some point. But there are a few things you can do to extend the life of the existing Poly-B: 

  • Replace plastic fittings: As mentioned above, in the early days of Poly-B piping, the fittings in some areas were made of plastic, and tended to fail over time. This is less common in Canada than in the U.S. If your fittings are plastic, you might consider getting a plumber to replace these with copper or brass fittings.
  • Don’t over-crimp: You’ll notice that the pipes are held in place with metal bands. If these are crimped too tightly, hairline fractures could result. With fractures, come leaks, so this is an important step.
  • Lower the pressure: Pressure-reducing valves are available and are designed to reduce the water pressure in your house, allowing for less stress on both the pipes and the fittings. Most experts recommend between 40 and 60 psi. High water pressure can actually cause damage to the home’s fixtures, as well as cause the pipes to rupture.
  • Reduce the chlorine: High levels of chlorine in the water can speed the deterioration of poly-B pipes. Most regions of Canada don’t have an issue with chlorine, but if your home is in an area with high levels of chlorine, you may want to consider installing a filter to remove chlorine right where the water comes into the home, not just where it comes out of the tap.



Tom Turner, Agent, Charlotte, NC

Polybutylene plumbing lines deteriorate from the inside due to oxidant degradation from chemicals in water - particularly Chlorine. Fittings are susceptible to the same deterioration, and the use of metal fittings reduces the risk of failure simply because of fewer potential failure components. Shell Oil, the primary manufacturer of polybutylene plumbing lines (not fittings) settled a class action lawsuit in 1995 (Cox vs Shell et al.) for $950 million because of the failure rates of the plumbing lines - not the fittings.


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