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Polybutylene Plumbing Pipes In Florida

Polybutylene Plumbing Pipes & Your Home

The History of Polybutylene

Polybutylene Plumbing
Polybutylene Pipes

From 1978 to 1995, polybutylene plumbing pipes were a popular choice in residential construction across the United States. They were favored for their affordability and ease of installation, presenting a cost-effective alternative to traditional copper pipes.

During this period, an estimated 6 to 10 million homes in the U.S. were built with polybutylene plumbing. This means that approximately one in five homes constructed at that time contains this type of plumbing material.

Why is Polybutylene Problematic?

Polybutylene has garnered a bad reputation, sometimes beyond what scientific data alone might justify. However, a crucial concern is that the homeowners insurance industry is notably reluctant to insure homes with polybutylene plumbing. But why is this the case?

Oxidants and chloramines present in public water supplies are believed to negatively interact with polybutylene and its fittings, making the pipes brittle. Over time, this brittleness can lead to the pipes cracking and failing prematurely. Such leaks often go undetected until they have caused significant damage.

The Legal History of Polybutylene Plumbing Pipes

Shortly after polybutylene began to gain traction in the plumbing industry, it became clear that the system was not without flaws. Homeowners across the United States started experiencing problems related to poor design quality, manufacturing defects, inadequate installation methods, and material failure due to chemicals in public water supplies. This led to more than a decade of litigation, company bankruptcies, and a class action lawsuit costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Consequently, insurance companies are cautious about underwriting policies for homes with polybutylene plumbing.

Polybutylene pipe and your Florida insurance
Polybutylene pipe and your Florida insurance

Homeowners Insurance and Polybutylene

Given the high risk associated with polybutylene plumbing pipes, homeowners insurance companies are often hesitant to insure homes in the state of Florida if these pipes are identified during a home inspection or four-point inspection. While some companies, like Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, may offer policies, these are likely to exclude coverage for interior water damage caused by the home's plumbing system.

Additionally, having polybutylene pipes can lead to significantly higher insurance premiums. As the insurance market in Florida tightens, more companies are refusing to underwrite homes with polybutylene plumbing, necessitating repiping to obtain an insurance policy.

What is a Repipe?

Many homeowners believe that repiping involves replacing both the water supply and drain lines. However, a repipe typically focuses on replacing the water distribution lines within your home. This includes all water lines leading to each plumbing fixture, exterior spigots, the main water shutoff, and laundry room supply lines.

How Much Will a Repipe Cost?

The cost to repipe a home in North Florida can vary widely, generally ranging from $2,000 to $8,000. This range is due to numerous factors that influence the final price.

When estimating the cost of a repipe for your home, consider the following factors:

  • The number of plumbing fixtures in your home

  • Accessibility of your fixtures

  • Type of repipe material (e.g., CPVC vs. PEX)

  • Availability of repipe materials

  • Size of your home

  • Inclusion of drywall repair and painting

Who Should You Choose?

Our best advice is to shop around. While larger companies may offer a comprehensive service, they can also be more expensive. Smaller local plumbing companies often provide excellent, cost-effective repipe services, helping you secure better insurance rates for your home.

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