Polybutylene Q&A

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Plumbing, Inc.
NC License #15690

"What Is Polybutylene Plumbing?"
  • Polybutylene plumbing is marketed under the brand names "Qest," "Thermoguard,' and "Flextemp."
  • Polybutylene pipe is a non-rigid, sometimes curved, usually gray, silver or black plastic pipe. When used in the underground service from the water company to a structure (a "Yard Service Line"), the pipe is blue, gray or black.
  • Polybutylene In-House Plumbing is a potable water supply system containing Polybutylene pipe and either plastic, copper or brass insert fittings.
  • Polybutylene pipe is not used for drains, waste or vent piping.
  • For purposes of class action settlement claims, Polybutylene Plumbing may NOT include yard sprinkler systems, irrigation systems, fire sprinkler systems, sewer lines, faucets or fixtures. Although Polybutylene pipe may be used in some hydro-heating systems, this may NOT be covered under any settlement as well.

Polybutylene Failure
There have been numerous reports of failure in this plumbing system. Expert opinions regarding the failures include:

  • Plastic fittings are stressed and crack by pressure used to secure the fittings, leaving the material vulnerable to attack by chlorine and other chemicals in the water supply.
  • Brass fittings can increase the rate of oxidation, making the pipe brittle and prone to cracking.
  • The metal fittings and plastic piping have different expansion rates, exerting pressure on the connections, causing the pipes to sprout leaks, or rupture.

Cox vs. Shell Oil Co., et al.

There have been a number of lawsuits and settlements across the nation. Cox vs. Shell, et al. is one of the largest and well known. The Cox Class Settlement was approved by the Court on November 9, 1995, requiring Shell Oil to commit a minimum of $950 million to a Settlement Fund. This Settlement allows homeowners who had (or have) 1 qualifying leak within the appropriate time period to be eligible to recover property damages, repair costs and a complete re-plumb of the property at no cost. Keep in mind that this was a Settlement, and due to strict guidelines, many do not qualify for recovery.

"Who’s Eligible For Recovery?"
Call 1-800-392-7591 to inquire on eligibility status. Claimant must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • own or have previously owned a dwelling or other unit plumbed with a Polybutylene system or a Polybutylene Yard Service Line, or both.
  • The Polybutylene Plumbing System or Polybutylene Yard Service Line must have been installed between 1/1/78 and 7/31/95.
  • The Polybutylene Plumbing System or Polybutylene Yard Service Line must have at least one "Leak" as defined in Cox vs. Shell Oil, et al..

"Won’t My Homeowners Insurance Cover This Anyway?"
Not necessarily. In some cases, homeowners are finding that insurance companies will either cancel their coverage when extensive damage is caused by Polybutylene or refuse coverage to homes piped with Polybutylene. It is best to check with you own insurance company in advance.

"We Love The House, How Can We Protect Ourselves?"
BE INFORMED! Being informed on the subject and knowing what to expect is the best protection. Having Polybutylene Plumbing in a home in no way means you should not buy the home, or if you already own the home, it doesn't mean panic. Simply know what type of plumbing system your home has and make a plan for how to handle the possibility of serious problems.

"What Are The Claim Deadlines?"
Mobile Homes:
Leaks must occur within 10 years of PB plumbing installation. And must be fixed within 11 years of PB Plumbing Installation.

Yard Service Lines:
Leaks must occur within 10 years of PB Yard Service Line installation. And must be fixed within 11 years of PB Yard Service Line Installation.

Homes with Acetal Fittings:
Leaks must occur within 13 years of PB plumbing installation. And must be fixed within 14 years of PB Plumbing Installation.

Homes Units with Metal Fittings:
Leaks must occur within 16 years of PB plumbing installation or 1-31-2009, which ever is earlier. And must be fixed within 17 years of PB Plumbing Installation or 5-1-2009, whichever is earlier.

Apartment Buildings & Commercial or Public Structures with Acetal or Metal Insert Fittings:
Leaks must occur within 13 years of PB plumbing installation. And must be fixed within 14 years of PB Plumbing Installation.

"Who Do I Call?"
TAR cannot recommend any plumbers or home inspectors at this time. We do recommend that you seek the advice of your Sales Managers and/or Firm Attorney.

Crawford & Company Insurance (1-800-876-9280) is the Insurance company handling Cox vs. Shell settlement claims in the Tidewater area. They may be able to recommend plumbers who have done this type of re-plumb in our area.

To make a claim or gain additional information on the Class Action Lawsuit you can call the Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center at 1-800-392-7591. Or access their website at: www.pbpipe.com

Spencer Class: 1-800-490-6997 This offers 10% recovery on re-plumbing systems with plastic fittings only.

Additional Internet web sites with Polybutylene information can be found here: Polybutylene Pipe Links

This information is provided as a member service. HRRA believes this information to be correct, but will not be liable for any errors or omissions. Information was gathered from various articles; the Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center; testimonials plumbers have posted on websites across the country; and from the Cox v. Shell Oil, et al Class Action Settlement document.


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Plumbing, Inc.

NC License #15690