Potential PB Issue

In the iNACHI Polybutylene mini-course it states the following:

That’s good advice. You can read my first hand account on this topic here: Potential PB Issue (be sure to start reading at pg 1).

Thanks for sharing.

Great example of a latent defect not observable by the inspector doing a visual inspection.

I hope it all works out for all parties.

Yes, this is still playing out…let’s hope it doesn’t end up like Brian Kelly’s recent issue. :wink:


I like the way that you handled this and I found this to be highly professional!

I inspected a REO house last weekend, two story, so there would not generally be any water supply piping in the attic, it would be plumbed though first floor walls-ceilings to the second floor fixtures.

But I did see PB Supply lines from valves to fixtures, this house was built in 92, so there was a strong possibility PB was used in portions of the house which were not visible, copper was stubbed out of all the walls, but I still recommended a plumber or contractor do destructive testing, removing sheetrock if necessary to determine the exact type of piping in this house BEFORE they close escrow.

I wrote the report hard, there is no other way to make any determination of what the house was plumbed with, but the PB supply lines were a strong indication to me PB might have been used…so I covered my azz the best I could.

There were also moisture stains at locations through this house which did not make any sense, the stains at first floor ceilings were not anywhere near second floor bathrooms…so I told the buyer you better get someone here to find out where that moisture is coming from BEFORE you close escrow, because without actually seeing what is causing the moisture staining it is impossible for me to guess, so remove sheetrock before you finalize this real estate transaction or buyer beware, I TOLD YOU SO…!!

I also put in my report, and told the client, if the bank (REO) will not allow destructive testing you better be expecting to re-pipe the entire house, in which the cost will be significant (thousands) before you sign any escrow papers. If there isn’t PB throughout the house great, if there is, well I covered my azz and the clients…some homes its impossible to see exactly what the water supply pipes are.

Here’s a rough draft of my formal response to the client. Please critique it.

I am not yet looking into the possibility that the PB Class Action Settlement may provide her with some relief. I still have to investigate that more and only want to offer that up when I know more. Oh, and yes, I am working with my E&O provider on this just in case it does move in that direction. I doubt it though…I fully expect this to go away.

Initial Response.pdf (89.5 KB)

Looks good Mike, I could not think of anything else you could of added, you wrote a simple to the point understandable letter.

Hope it works out for you.

Everyone will see more PB water line issues now that the lines are getting older. When I see it, it is not a matter of if it leaks, it is when. I give the client a full page note about the plumbing. Many insurance companies will not insure a house with this type of water line. I had a large home in an upscale area that disclosed a water leak in the home, repaired the leak, replace alot of wall and ceiling sheet rock, and painted all of the basement joists/beams with kills. Of course, the PB lines also got painted. They were not fully replaced throughout the home. I wrote it up, took dozens of pictures, and the buyer did not buy the home because of the lines. The owner’s insurance company already paid up for damage, and now the home is not insurable. I psd off the buyer, the realtor lost a sale, the listing agent lost the commission, the mortgage broker lost commission, on, and on. I am now a certified deal buster. You know, the truth hurts. We always walk a fine line, but must do the honest thing. I have not recieved another inspection from the realtor, which I have worked with for years. She tells me she is concentrating on listing. I am now a bad inspector.

The better of us will go though this but eventually you can overcome it and not have to rely on RE agents…they have a large conflict of interest and should be banned from recommending inspectors…period!!!

Alot of talk is going around KC today about the new Kansas inspection law. In July, RE’s did not know much about it, and now brokers were working on ways to get inspectors out of the business. I have e-mails out there, and no responses. Something is happening here, just do not know what. Nick says that the largest company in real estate here is taking inspectors off their lists, and replacing them with contractors/repairmen to do component home inspections. Only just a few calls this week, which is extremely unusual. August is usually the biggest month for me, and it is suddenly dead here. I get worried when the phone does not ring, and the e-mails stop. I have bills to pay. Guess I’ll just pour me something tall and strong.

I had a home today built in 1990. The home was very well maintained. They just replaced the roof/furnace/air.

The home was in above average condition.

Everything was stubbed in copper. No visible piping. Basement fininshed.

I removed tub access panel and there was the PB.

How much do you think it cost to replace the PB in a 2 story colonial about 2500 Sq. Ft. 2 and 1/2 baths?

124608 016 (Small).jpg

Probably about $6000 (not counting any walls that may become damaged and need repair.

FYI - a good place to find poly is at the water heater relief line. I find it all the time down here, but you have to pyhsically feel it, because most of the time they paint it to try and disguise it.

I always check here Michael. :smiley:



Picture of copper to PEX

Yes, I remember you posting that a couple of weeks ago and it sure makes sense when it’s physically possible to do so. See the one picture of mine that shows the Washer connections and there’s a trim ring that would prohibit me from seeing thru a crack and behind the drywall. I would have had to have disconnected the washer hoses, the drain and then attempted to see if that trim ring would come loose. I doubt it, it’s probably epoxied to the box. That’s certainly not something I would want to do on every house.

Most of the trim rings pop right off. And the best part is if the hoses are connected to the washer the trim will not fall to the floor behind the washer and dryer. :smiley:

Epoxying the trim ring to the box costs money. :wink:

I’ll try it next time.

Thanks, guys. I never thought to look at the washer faucet basin. I will try that at my next inspection. I have seen PB lines painted. You have to be carefull, and assume all houses have PB lines. I have found it many times running through floors, but the main runs in the basements are all copper.

Here’s my laundry ring pic.


If you can’t see any Polybutylene pipe, there is an easy way to tell. Go under a sink and grab the shut off valve. Try to wiggle it. If it bends, it is most likely Polybutylene.
Most homes built after 1990 use the old “copper stub trick”.
They are also doing the same thing with PEX.