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Why Is Poly B Piping is No Longer Covered by Home Insurance

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Clearly Plumbing and Drainage

Why Is Poly B Piping is No Longer Covered by Home Insurance

Has your insurance company informed you that they will no longer be covering damage due to failures in your Poly B plumbing? Poly B pipes, are also known as polybutylene, was manufactured between 1985 and 1997 and proved to be quite popular in the construction of Vancouver homes up until 1995.

These flexible grey pipes were inexpensive and easy to work with, making it an attractive material for contractors and plumbers across the US and Canada. It was popular enough, in fact, that it is estimated to have found its way into more than 700,000 Canadian homes before it was discontinued. That leaves more than 700,000 homes at risk of serious Poly B issues.

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What are Poly B pipes?

A Popular, Inexpensive Choice
Poly B was intended as an alternative to the more expensive copper piping being used. The cheaper price coupled with easier installation made switching to Poly B an easy choice for many. After being tested and certified by the Canadian Standards Association and approved for potable water systems, it came into wide use.

Initially, Poly B seemed ideal, with many homes lasting 10 to 15 years without incident. Unfortunately, after that length of time, Poly B begins to fail, with water chlorination accelerating its degradation. The eventual failure is absolute and can occur at any moment without prior signs, making the replacement of these pipes by qualified plumbers a time-sensitive affair.

What are common Poly B Piping Problems?

Some homes have been fortunate enough to escape without any issues with their Poly B pipes—so far. It is simply a matter of time before the pipes fail, however, and the result is leakage that can cause expensive water damage to your home. Some of the potential causes for Poly B failure include:

  • Chlorinated Water. As mentioned above, this accelerated the breaking down of the
    material that can cause leakage throughout the piping system.
  • Improper installation. If the fittings were installed too tightly, they can cause hairline
    cracks that will lead to eventual leakage.
  • Too Much Stress. Improper installation can also lead to the pipes being bent and
    under stress, again causing leaks.
  • Too Much Heat. Poly B pipes may have been installed in areas of high heat, such as
    water tanks, and in the attic.
  • Improper Fittings. Acetal (grey or white) fittings may have been used in place of the
    preferred metal fittings.

Poly B has been the subject of many lawsuits over the years. The chance of having your home insurance policy cover costs are extremely slim. More information about lawsuits and home insurance as relates to Poly B can be found here.

What is the Cost of Poly B Pipe Replacement?

  • The thought of having to replace the Poly B in your home is likely to bring up concerns over the cost. Determining a price depends upon the contractor that you hire, as well as the size of your home. The process is typically invasive to some degree, though many professionals have the means to replace your pipes and get things back to normal quickly so that you don’t face too much disturbance. Some of the factors influencing price include:
  • labour
  • materials
  • interior access
  • size of your home
  • amount of drywall to remove

In most cases, the eventual cost is not going to be cheap, though the actual amount can vary significantly. On average, you can expect to pay between $6000 and $12,000 to remove the Poly B and replace it with new PEX piping. Replacing your drywall can cost an additional $5000 to $10,000, bringing your total to between $11,000 and $22,000.

This cost will cover the complete removal of all Poly B (and its re-mediation process) as well as the installation of PEX piping, and any necessary repairs to walls and ceilings. In addition to the cost, the entire process will likely take 2-3 days for the plumbing and another 7-8 days to repair the drywall.

The cost is significant, and obviously a factor in the decision to replace the Poly B, because it is a big job that is labour- and material-intensive. If you are quoted an amount less than what is suggested above, it strongly suggests that corners are being cut. Replacing your Poly B is highly recommended for the peace of mind it gives you in knowing that your pipes are not likely to leak at any moment, potentially causing significant damage and even greater expense.

Can You Sell Your Home with Poly B pipes in it?

While you are still able to sell your home even with the Poly B piping, it may make matters difficult for you. A home that might otherwise sell quickly could end up staying on the market for an extended period. Since 2018, home insurance companies have either been charging massive premiums or denying coverage outright.

When a potential buyer for your home learns of this, it may cause them to continue looking at other houses. If they decide to proceed, they may fac issues with mortgage money lenders if they are not able to make a considerable down payment. The mortgage lender, knowing there is a 100% chance of eventual Poly B failure, will need that significant down payment to reassure them that the new homeowner won’t walk away from the mortgage, leaving them with debt and a damaged house.

If you still decide to sell your home without removing the Poly B, it is very likely that the buyer’s home inspector will flag it during the inspection. The resulting negotiations could see the buyers seeking $20,000 to $30,000 off of the price of the listed price to compensate for the issues they will be facing.

Knowing that the Poly B in your home is going to fail sooner or later, it makes sense to replace it as soon as possible, before you are faced with flooding, damage to your home, and the potential loss of irreplaceable possessions.

If you are ready to remove the Poly B piping in your home, contact Clearly Plumbing for an estimate today. Our highly- trained professionals will remove Poly B quickly and efficiently so that you can rest easy knowing that your home and valuables are safe.

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