PB what to do?

I called out the PB water lines in a condo…here is the info I received and it shows that the plumbing lines that I called out ARE recalled, but a licensed plumber said they were OK and no need to repair…Here are the exact reports given. Should I just say refer to the licensed plumber? He is WRONG as far as I am concerned…just kinda wondering what others would do.

April 15, 2009

Wendy Traiger
c/o Gulf Breeze Management Svc
8910 Terrene Ct. Suite 200
Bonita Springs, Fl. 34135
Ph: 239-498-3311
Cell: 239-498-4974

Ref: Greenbriar 1 Unit #205 in Bonita Bay via e-mail: wendy.traiger@gulfbreezemanagement.com
4140 Bayhead Road
Bonita Springs, Florida

Polybutylene Water Distribution System

Evaluation (April 15, 2009):

  1. Met Carol Wood with Premier Properties to visit unit in question.
  2. Building is a 3 story structure, built in or around 1989.
  3. Unit visited is on the second floor, unit #205
  4. Appears the main water risers for building are copper.
  5. Water stub-outs at vanity are copper.
  6. Visual inspection of water piping was accomplished through ceiling access in Laundry Closet.
  7. Water distribution system in this unit is Vanguard Polybutylene piping with copper insert fittings and copper rings.
  8. Piping appears to be sound and no leaks were seen.
  9. One issue noted is a ½” two hole plastic strap on the ½” piping is broken, located above hallway.
  10. Please find attached a four page letter from Vanguard (Polybutylene Fact Sheet), this is for your information.


  1. The section of existing Vanguard Polybutylene piping and copper fittings that could be inspected through ceiling access appears to be sound.
  2. Replace broken ½” two hole strap.
  3. All indications this building had Vanguard Polybutylene piping system used in all units.
  4. Would not replace existing Polybutylene system, if a leak does occur, deal with it on individual bases.
  5. There is a possibility of a leak on any water distribution system used in Plumbing Construction.

Any questions on my findings, please contact me.

Please notify our Service Department if you would like to set up a service call for the replacement of strap.


Steve A. French
Bear’s Plumbing of South Florida, Inc.
Lic #: CFC-048486

Carol Wood (Premier Properties) CarolW@premiermail.net
Dave Chapman (Bear’s Plumbing)

Attached is the fact sheet from VanguardPB Litigation Fact Sheet.pdf (25.4 KB)

After you initially reported it, and a plumber actually inspected the plumbing system and wrote a written report verifying their findings, you have done all you can do.


If the plumber claims it is good to go, have him put it IN WRITING.


Number 1: I wouldn’t attempt to identify the manufacturer (is one brand better or worse than another?).

Number 2: I wouldn’t say it has been recalled (to my knowledge it has not been).

Number 3: I wouldn’t say it needed to be replaced (are you a plumber?).

I just say the following and I’m done with it.

“Polybutylene plastic plumbing supply lines (PB) are installed in the house. Polybutylene has been used in this area for many years, but has had a higher than normal failure rate, and is no longer being widely used. Copper and brass fittings used in later years may have reduced the failure rate. There is also a current theory that chemicals in municipal water systems react with the piping and resins in the fittings, weakening the pipes and joints. Heat may also cause the pipes to deteriorate and burst. For more information about PB, see http://www.pbpipe.com and other Internet resources and/or rely on the evaluation and advice of a licensed plumbing contractor prior to the close of escrow.”

You did what you thought was right. If you did not call it out, a leak could have occurred and a plumber would have said that it was recalled and the inspector should have said something about it. By the plumber inspecting the plumbing and not recommending replacement, you do not have to worry about it coming back on you which it shouldn’t anyway because identifying recalls are not in our SOP anyway.
If somebody asks you why you called it out, just say the plumber is wrong and if they want you to you can prove it. It usually goes no farther than that. I get calls like that and I just tell them to get it in writing for they will have somebody to go after when something goes wrong. I have learned to refer this costly stuff out to a technician and let him decide, even if I know what the answer is going to be. The seller is not going to want to pay so they can hire a technician to say anything they want. Sad but true.

Thanks guys…

You are right, in pointing out, a possible problem with the water lines, if you have a “plumbers” assurance that the lines are ok, yoiu are off the hook.

My only experience with this, is a house that was built with that type of plumbing, my poor roofer when through hell, as the contractor blaimed the water damage on a poor roofing job. After over a year of conflict, guess what, it was the water supply lines!!

So, my opinion, is to advise the customer that this type of plumbing has the “potental” of leaks, and have a qualified (if there are any) plumber.certify the the installation is OK.

You have done 2 things, made the buyer aware of a possible problem, and thrown the liabilty portion into the court of the plumber!!!

No one is going to watch your backside, only YOU can cover all bases. Protect yourself, FIRST, transfer the potential libality to others!!!

Correct me if I am wrong, if there were no recalls on this product, was there not a class action law suite concerning it?

I still see this in new construction,(expensive million $ homes) and the plumbers tell me its been greatly improved. In my remodels, I stay with tried and proved copper, much to the dismay of my plumbing contractor. It’s my way or the highway, after all, I am the one writing the check, and will have to face the liability with a failure!

Any thoughts/information out there???

Copper plumbing is believed to dissolve completely when it comes into contact with Methheads. However, lab test have proven unreliable, due to the absence of residue. Recommend plumbing with non shiny materials by a qualified plumbing contractor. :wink:

I’ve seen 3 homes with PB plumbing in the last month. I always call it out, recommend they research the info online, and consult a plumbing contractor. What they do after that, is up to them. Around here, if a house is older, they will most likely soon need a 4point inspection by their homeowners insurance carrier. I make sure and warn the buyer that most insurers will not cover or limit coverage when the home has PB Pipe. That usually gets more attention than the possibility of leaks…

**The plumbing system included polybutylene water pipes, commonly referred to as PB2110, that have been alleged to be defective, and have experienced a higher than normal rate of problems associated with leaks where the pipes are joined together. PB2110 pipes were frequently installed in homes between 1978 and 1995. PB2110 is easily recognizable as a flexible, gray, blue, or black plastic, which include metal fittings that are connected by aluminum or copper bands. **
**However, PB2110 should not be confused with CPVC pipe, which is white and more rigid than polybutylene, and has been commonly used in place of copper supply in later years. **
Although there was no evidence of leakage in the system, a licensed plumber should be consulted concerning this material.
Learn more about PB2110 on the Web at www.propex.com/C_f_env_polybu.htm](http://www.propex.com/C_f_env_polybu.htm)


Yes. There was a lawsuit. Settled out of court. http://www.pbpipe.com/

I sincerely doubt you are seeing PB in new construction. PEX is what you are seeing, not PB.

Tis so, the “new and improved” version, I still don’t trust it. I am of the opinion I do not trust any new method of construction, until it has passed the test of time, and disbelieve and and all of the “fact”, “test” " gurantee" sheets put out by manufactures.

Should I mention, LP sidding, Woodruf roofing, just a couple of mass failures, promoted by the manufactures. I got suckered by both, and no longer want to be their “testing” source.

PEX has been out since the 1960s. How long, exactly, will it take to pass your test of time.

The same amount of time galvanized and copper have been around.

It’s my understanding that only certain types or brands of PB are bad. I call it every time I see it, give a summary of past problems (class action lawsuit) and potential problems and recommend evaluation by a qualified plumbing contractor. At that point, liability is passed to the client.

Last fall I inspected a very large, nice home in an exclusive area of Overland Park, KS. It had recently been renovated. At the inspection, I found out why and how. The owner had disclosed a water line leak at the upper bathroom, and had it repaired. That was all that was stated. As I went into the basement, all of the joists, sub-flooring, basement walls and floors had all been painted with Kills. (Earlier in my inspection of the home, I noticed new PEX water lines under the sinks at the upper baths). In the basement I noticed water lines running from the hot water heater through the sub-flooring; all painted white. I did some scraping. Yep, PB 2110. I called it out. Two days later, the realtor called me and complained that she lost a sale, due to the presence of PB water lines in the home, and that her buyer could not find an insurance company to insure the home. There was recently a large claim filed due to a “major water failure”. Her insurance company came out, and found that not all of the water lines were replaced; just the ones that failed. The buyer had to give up purchasing that home, since it was not insurable. She tried several companies. Apperantly it was on some claim hot-line that most insurace companies use. Like a carfax report. I have pictures somewhere.

Insurance companies and mortgage lenders, and now appraisers, are getting into the home inspection business. Over the years, our business practices have been rising due to awareness and litigation. As states begin and implement licensing, our business as we know it is changing rapidly, and so much so that it is now being threatened. As in Kansas, realtors, apprasiers, insurance agents, home builders, etc. are exempt from any home inspection laws. Perhaps, we have been doing too good of a job.