It seems like mankind has never devised a “perfect” way to carry water into houses. We had many fewer issues before we attempted “indoor plumbing.”
Recently, I worked with a buyer in Wake Forest, NC. Heritage community, and they bought a very nice house.
In the course of home inspections, Scott Makseyn, the inspector, came out from under the house and said, “Mike, you know you have Zurn QPEX fittings?”
Nope. I didn’t know and didn’t know why it mattered.
Apparently, there is a higher incidence of waterline failure due to corrosion of the fittings.
We were fortunate to have an agreeable seller who offered adequate funds to replace the plumbing in the house.
Cary Plumbing did the turnkey replumbing job and I have a happy client. The plumbers were helpful enough that they saved a box of fittings from the house for “Show and Tell.”
For years, I have crawled under houses for my buyers, trying to learn if they were getting Polybutylene piping. Now, I have an additional concern, and find myself getting under even more houses.
So it goes…..
Thousands of homes in the Cary area have polybutylene piping.
Polybutylene Water Lines in Cary NC
Thousands of homes in Cary NC neighborhoods, built from the mid-1980's through the mid-1990's were plumbed with polybutylene water supply lines.
Polybutylene water line systems have a history of higher than expected failure, to the point that the manufacturers settled a class-action law suit with an agreement.
That said, I don't consider Polybutylene Pipe to be a deal-breaker if found in an otherwise desirable home. Location, Lot, and Layout are still most important. And, if the system is working without issues known to the homeowner, the existence of Polybutylene piping in a Cary NC home is not even a material fact that is required to be disclosed to a potential buyer. A buyer may be able to negotiate for credit for replumbing, or an agreeable price that considers the cost of replumbing. Again, thought, the existence of polybutylene piping is not a violation of any building code, and is not a material defect.
As a real estate agent working for buyer clients, I tell them that, to the best of my ability, they will not write an offer on a home from the 1980's or 1990's until we determine whether it was plumbed with polybutylene water lines.
I try to help them avoid paying a home inspector a few hundred dollars to tell them that they have PB pipe, particularly if they consider it a deal breaker.
A photo of PEX water lines (the white pipes) connecting a replacement water heater to an existing polybutylene piping system:
Identifying Polybutylene water supply piping can be accomplished in a few different ways.
Often it can be seen coming through a wall at the water heater. Sometimes it is exposed at laundry room connections, or under sinks or vanities.
My preferred method is to look in a crawl space or basement to see what water line material was used.
For further information on polybutylene piping uses and issues, here is a great article by Kenny Hart, former plumber, real estate agent, and home inspector.
Home built in 1979.
In the structural real estate realm, that means:
Copper water lines, not the celcon-fitting class-action polybutylene that came along a couple of years later.
Solid hardboard siding, not evil class-action hardboard.
Copper wiring, not the aluminum branch circuits from the mid-’70’s.
No lead-based paint disclosure or tangible concerns, as in 1978 homes and earlier.
And this home was very affordable!
All in all, pretty cool, we thought!