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4 Most Common Causes of Burst Polybutylene Pipes in Northern Virginia

In a region filled with significant history, many homes in the NOVA and DC metro areas are older and were built before the ’90s. While they feature traditional charm, they may also be at higher risk for burst pipes. This is due to the popularity of polybutylene pipes in construction during the 1970s through the 1990s.

These plastic pipes were supposed to be an easy and affordable alternative to copper piping, but it didn’t take long for plumbers to realize they were not durable. While any older home can experience burst pipes or weakened piping material, homes with polybutylene are at an increased risk for these reasons:

Polybutylene Is More Prone to Cracked Fittings

One main issue with polybutylene piping is its fittings — the pieces that connect one pipe to another. They were originally installed with plastic fittings, though they were particularly prone to leaks. They could also cause the pipes to crack if they were overly tightened.

Copper and brass fittings were introduced as a solution. While they perform better than plastic fittings, Poly-B pipes need support every 3 to 4 feet to prevent leaks caused by excess strain on the pipe connections. Ultimately, you’re better off replacing your pipes with a more durable material than trying to replace the fittings.

Polybutylene Is More Prone to Water Pressure Damage

Polybutylene pipes are also easily damaged by high water pressure. Homes with water pressure above 60 psi are at a significant risk of leaks or rupture. A pressure-reducing valve may temporarily reduce the risk of burst pipes, but whole-home repiping is the best solution.

Polybutylene Is More Prone to Heat Damage

Because polybutylene is highly susceptible to heat, these pipes should not be used near a water heater or furnace that may emit excess heat.

In addition, the water temperature in your home should not be higher than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, as the heat will make your water supply pipes expand and contract, causing them to weaken and become brittle.

For this reason, polybutylene pipes are especially prone to damage as hot water pipes. Their low heat tolerance often leads to premature failure due to leaks, ruptures, and corrosion.

Polybutylene Is More Prone to Chlorine Damage

Unfortunately, polybutylene pipes degrade with exposure to chlorine. Since most municipal water contains at least small doses of chlorine, most polybutylene pipes will break down over time, resulting in a much shorter life span than pipes made of other materials.

Choose United Air Temp for Whole-Home Repiping

If you have polybutylene pipes in Washington, DC, and North Virginia, United Air Temp is here to help with professional whole-home repiping.

As part of our comprehensive plumbing services, our team of highly trained plumbers can remove your Poly-B pipes and replace them with a more durable option like copper, PEX, or CPVC to give you peace of mind and greater protection of your home.

We’re proud to be a leader in home comfort since 1931. With UAT, your satisfaction is always guaranteed.

Schedule burst pipe repair or whole-home repiping by calling our team at (202) 796-7990 today.

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