Replacement of Blue Poly Vinyl, The “Big Blue” Water Main Line Service Pipe
Your home’s plumbing system may have a certain type of piping used for the fresh water delivery system that’s been found to suddenly spring leaks or crack after a certain number of years have passed after installation.
Commonly known as “Big Blue,” one type of poly tubing was used from about 1978 to 1995 as water supply piping because of it’s low cost. They can be blue, grey, white, silver, or black. They are usually stamped with the code PB2110.
Once thought of as the pipe of the future, it was used to replace traditional copper pipes that carried fresh water into homes. Unfortunately, it was later found that the material doesn’t hold up well after years of use and problems with cracking and deteriorating are extremely common.
Homeowners who have this water line in Snohomish and North King County should know that they’re systems could just be waiting to spring a leak. Many have been suddenly surprised by flooding when their lines fail for seemingly no reason at all.
The failure of the polybutylene piping is believed to be because of the oxidants found in the public water supplies, such as chlorine, which react with the material of the pipe causing them to scale and flake, which soon turns them into brittle, unreliable pipes.
Other factors like improper installation could also contribute to the failure of this piping system, but it’s almost impossible to tell if installation problems exist throughout an entire system.
Areas where poly piping, or polybutylene piping, is found are:
- Entering the water heater
- Crossing basement ceilings
- Leading to sinks, toilets, and bathtubs
- Entering through basement walls or elsewhere
- Attached to the water meter
- Attached to the main water shutoff valve
- As the incoming water supply line to the home
If you believe you may have this pipe, you’ll want to seriously consider having it replaced. Once it becomes brittle, it’s sure to eventually fail causing leaking and flooding. The deterioration happens from within the pipe and can’t be detected without turning of the water and dismantling the pipe.
There are other pipes that are similar looking and shouldn’t be confused with PB, or polybutylene piping. PEX is made of polyethylene and can be black, blue, or red. It’s more flexible and can withstand higher temperatures. PVC is common and CPVC is a derivative, both appearing white or off white, rigid or flexible. Polyethylene is flexible and black.
Generally, home inspectors aren’t required to note the presence of polybuteylen, or Big Blue, but if they do, the entire length of a pipe is checked because portions may have been replaced or connections may contain a portion of the material at junctures. Commonly, this would occur where the copper and PB pipe would link at the bathroom fixture feed.
When in doubt, your professional plumbers at Apollo Plumbing can take a look at your home’s plumbing and do an inspection for you. We offer full service plumbing, so if it is found we can also give you an estimate on the cost to replace. Just let us know about your pipes and we’ll take care of the rest!