Florida homes built in the late 70s to mid-90s may have polybutylene pipes in the plumbing system. Unfortunately, these pipes have caused a lot of problems for homeowners, especially when dealing with water damage claims.
What Are Polybutylene Pipes?
From 1978 to 1995, polybutylene was used for water piping in new construction. It is a plastic resin pipe that was easy to make, very flexible, and quite inexpensive. Builders saw it as the building material of the future, and as many as 10 million homes used the product.
However, polybutylene pipes lacked one major characteristic – durability. As time went on, plumbing began to fail and homeowners were left with damages in the millions of dollars. The issues with the pipes included:
- Ruptured pipes
Why Are They So Unreliable?
The unreliability of polybutylene pipes caused the piping to fail at the joints. This led to plumbing leaks and burst pipes. Here’s why:
- These pipes were touted as DIY pipes. However, if not properly installed, the joint failure is even more common.
- Polybutylene cannot stand up to common chemicals, like chlorine, found in public water systems. Exposure causes the plastic to become brittle and crack.
Do You Have Polybutylene Piping?
Most homes with polybutylene piping in Florida have been identified. However, since your home is your biggest investment, you should know how to determine what type of piping you have.
- Most polybutylene pipes are underground or on the exterior of the home
- Although they come in blue, black, and gray, most in Florida are gray
- They are typically 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter
- Pipes bend or curve easily
The easiest place to locate polybutylene piping is at the water heater and the pipes going to your water meter. However, some homes have copper pipes in one location and polybutylene pipes in another. That is why you should hire a professional to inspect the pipes if you are not sure.
Does Insurance Cover Polybutylene Pipes?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, not generally. Homeowners insurance companies understand how likely these pipes are to burst causing expensive damage, so they do not provide coverage. If you file a claim after a polybutylene pipe burst, the claim will likely be rejected.
When you received your homeowners policy, you were likely told if you had polybutylene pipes and that they were not covered under the policy. However, your carrier may be willing to add a rider for an added cost. You may also be able to find a carrier that covers polybutylene by increasing the cost of coverage to all homeowners.
If you have polybutylene pipes, you will eventually have problems that result in water damage. As a homeowner, you have two options: find a policy that covers the pipes or replace the pipes. Although the second option is not cheap, it is far cheaper than dealing with a water damage issue with no help from your homeowners policy.
At Aftermath Adjusters & Consulting, we understand the devastation caused by water damage and would hate for you to have to deal with it on your own. If you are concerned that you have polybutylene pipes, give us a call. We can inspect your system and offer suggestions for remediation. We are here to help.