How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
Should I buy a house with polybutylene (PB) piping?
Sunday, May 1, 2022
The big problem with polybutylene (PB) piping is that it’s difficult to insure. Most insurance companies will outright decline to insure a home with PB-pipe because of its history of failure. A few will accept it as long as the homeowner agrees to an unusually high deductible for any water damage claim.
Manufacturers stopped producing PB-pipe in 1995 due the numerous lawsuits over pipe failure flood damage. So homes built from the mid-1970’s, when it was first introduced, until the 1990’s that still have PB-pipe in place are old enough that insurers require submission of a four-point inspection report as a prerequisite to binding a policy.
When the inspector notes the presence of polybutylene pipe in the report—even if it appears to be in good condition—you have to choose between replacing it or accepting a high water damage deductible in order to get homeowner’s insurance. The minimum cost of replacement starts at about $4,000 for smaller homes in our area.
Although PB-pipe is required to be listed in a seller’s disclosure statement because it materially affects the value of the home, some homeowners are unaware that they have PB—or, at least, claim ignorance about it. Go to our article What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem? for where and how you can identify it yourself.
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