Polybutylene Piping

A solution that turned into a real problem.

Polybutylene was a popular pipe system alternative from 1978 through 1994 used for its low cost and flexibility. However, it was banned in the United States and Canada in 1994 due to allegations that the pipe deteriorated quickly from chlorinated water, leading to unpredictable system failure and large repair bills.

It’s in up to 10 Million Properties Nationwide.

While there is not a government regulation regarding polybutylene pipe systems, many prospective buyers will not purchase a building with polybutylene pipe due to the high risk of failure. Current building owners are often forced to replace the pipe before the sale closes, regardless of the system’s age or integrity.

The costs of Poly Pipe

If not replaced, polybutylene pipes can continue to function for years without showing any signs of deterioration. A small leak behind drywall or in other inaccessible places may go unnoticed for years but contribute to a severe mold problem and/or structural damage. The cost of repairs in both of these cases can be catastrophic and rarely covered by water damage insurance. Damage of tenants’ inventory or equipment can lead to broken leases or even expensive lawsuits if negligence can be proven.


If you suspect Polybutylene, consult a qualified Commercial Inspector such as Pinnacle Commercial Inspections to investigate your entire visible plumbing system to search for Polybutylene. It is ideal to do this well before entering into a contract to purchase the property.