Most homeowners learn what type of plumbing they have only after experiencing water leaking from the pipes. However, it wouldn’t hurt to have some general knowledge about the materials used for plumbing in homes, and their pros and cons. That way you can better make a decision when looking for a new home.
The basic thing to know is that pipes that bring water into your home are usually made from copper or plastic. Copper plumbing has been the main water plumbing system for almost a century, giving way to plastic pipes in the last fewdecades.
Some types of popular plastic material for water pipes in this period have been polybutylene (poly-B), PVC, and PEX.
What Is Poly-B Plumbing?
Poly-B or polybutylene pipes were popular from the early 80’s to the mid 90’s. Plumbers and homeowners started using them because they turned out to be much easier to install and a much cheaper alternative to copper.
These pipes are usually gray in colour.
According to some estimates, there are over 700,000 homes in Canada with poly-B plumbing. The use of this material for potable water pipes was discontinued in 2005, making PVC or PEX the standard plastic material for residential plumbing.
How Long Do Polybutylene Pipes Last?
The reason poly-B pipes are not popular anymore is because there have been many leaks in homes with this type of plumbing.
Some estimates suggest that poly-B pipes deteriorate after 10-15 years, but there are homes with poly-B plumbing built in the ‘80s and ‘90s that still haven’t experienced any leakage or pipe damages.
So, What to Do If Your Home Uses a Poly-B Plumbing System?
The tricky thing about poly-B pipes is that you cannot detect any signs of deterioration while it’s happening, because these pipes deteriorate from the inside.
You can certainly call a professional plumbing team to inspect your pipes. If their condition is in poor shape, the plumbers will be able to detect it. But if the pipes are still in good shape, no one can make any estimates of how long they will function without leaks.
There are two things you can do:
1) You can replace the entire water plumbing system in your home, switching from poly-B to PEXpipes. This is not something homeowners are happy to do, because it’s a big and costly project.
2) You can delay any major plumbing works in your home until you experience your first water leakage. Again, the best solution here would be to replace the whole plumbing system, because once leaks start happening, they won’t stop, even if you fix that particular leaking pipe.
If you’re having doubts about what to do with your water plumbing system, contact us and we can send one of our experienced technicians to explain your options in detail and advise you on the best course of action for your problem.