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Polybutylene pipes are a real problem. More and more pipes are springing leaks that can cause some serious damage. If you are buying or selling a home you need to face the issue and not stick your head in the sand and hope nothing ever goes wrong.
Polybutylene is a type of plastic pipe that was used in the mid 1990's. It was inexpensive and very easy to install. There's just one huge problem. It seems like the chlorine in drinking water slowly corrodes the plastic from the inside. It takes years before the pipe bursts and so far only a small percentage of interior pipes have had problems. But water is a very damaging material and can generate a massive amount of damage very quickly.
Polybutylene is now considered a defective product. There are companies that specialize in replacing it. I've had a few homes where this had to be done. It's easiest done when the home is vacant and has a basement. A few strategic holes are cut into the walls and the pipe is pulled out. It can all be replaced with copper. Afterwards, all the holes in the walls are patched and painted so one would never know there was a problem. A typical house will cost between $5000-$8000.
Many times the polybutylene is just found in the main water line from the street to the house. These lines seem to burst with more frequency. The typical cost to fix this problem is between $1000-$1500.
In Georgia, polybutylene is addressed in the Seller's Property Disclosure . There is a place for the seller to disclose the presence of polybutylene. If the seller discloses this up front, the buyer can not request the replacement of the pipes if they wait to make an issue of it until the Inspection Period even though it is considered a defective product. If the seller discloses this up front, you need to negotiate a concession during the initial contract negotiations.
It is to the sellers advantage to disclose this item because there is a good chance that the buyer just might not notice it until the inspection. If it's disclosed upfront, and is currently working in the fashion that it was designed to, the buyer can't back out of the contract if you refuse to replace it.
Most of the times I've dealt with this product, the buyer and seller seem to end up splitting the cost 50/50. New copper pipes does increase the value of a home in neighborhoods where polybutylene in prevalent. I hear that some insurance companies won't insure a home that has polybutylene pipes.
Make sure you do your homework and become aware of this product. Here are a few links that I have found to be helpful.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.