Should I Buy A House With Polybutylene Pipe

October 1, 2023

What is Polybutylene Pipe? ===

Polybutylene pipe is a type of plastic plumbing pipe that was widely used in residential buildings from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. It was praised for its low cost, ease of installation, and resistance to freezing temperatures, making it a popular choice for many homeowners. However, polybutylene pipe has since gained a controversial reputation due to its tendency to fail prematurely, leading to expensive water damage and potential health hazards.

=== The Controversy Surrounding Polybutylene Pipe ===

The controversy surrounding polybutylene pipe stems from the high rate of failures and leaks reported in homes that have this type of plumbing system. It is believed that some factors, such as the composition of the water supply and the installation techniques used, can accelerate the deterioration of the pipe. As a result, many insurance companies consider polybutylene pipe a high-risk feature and either charge higher premiums or exclude coverage for damages caused by it.

Furthermore, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the manufacturers of polybutylene pipe in the 1990s. This resulted in a settlement that provided compensation for homeowners who experienced damages due to pipe failures. While the lawsuit has been settled, the reputation of polybutylene pipe remains tarnished, and its presence in a house can affect its resale value and insurability.

=== Pros and Cons of Buying a House with Polybutylene Pipe ===

One of the main advantages of buying a house with polybutylene pipe is the potential for cost savings. Since these houses often sell at a lower price compared to those with more reliable plumbing systems, buyers can negotiate a lower purchase price. Additionally, if the polybutylene pipe has not shown signs of failure, it can be a functional plumbing system for many years.

However, the risks associated with polybutylene pipe should not be underestimated. The potential for leaks and pipe failures can lead to extensive water damage, which can be costly to repair. Additionally, insurance coverage for damages caused by polybutylene pipe may be limited or excluded altogether, leaving homeowners responsible for the financial burden. Moreover, the presence of polybutylene pipe can complicate the process of selling the house in the future, as potential buyers may be deterred by its reputation and difficulty in obtaining insurance.

=== Is it Worth the Risk? Factors to Consider before Buying ===

Before deciding whether to purchase a house with polybutylene pipe, several factors should be carefully considered. Firstly, it is essential to assess the condition of the pipe. A professional inspection can help determine if there are any signs of deterioration or imminent failure. Secondly, it is crucial to research the availability and cost of insurance coverage that includes damages caused by polybutylene pipe, as this can significantly impact the financial risk. Additionally, consulting with a real estate agent or lawyer can provide valuable insights into the local housing market and the potential impact of polybutylene pipe on resale value.

Ultimately, the decision to buy a house with polybutylene pipe depends on one’s risk tolerance, budget, and long-term plans. While cost savings may be tempting, the potential for expensive repairs and limited insurance coverage should not be overlooked. It is crucial to carefully weigh the pros and cons, seek professional advice, and make an informed decision based on individual circumstances.


In conclusion, polybutylene pipe has been a controversial plumbing material due to its high failure rate and associated risks. The decision to buy a house with polybutylene pipe requires careful consideration of the potential cost savings, the risks of water damage, and the availability of insurance coverage. Consulting professionals and thoroughly evaluating the condition of the pipe are essential steps in making an informed decision. Ultimately, the choice to purchase a house with polybutylene pipe should be based on individual circumstances, risk tolerance, and long-term plans.