RAL Polybutylene Statement

Polybutylene Piping

Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used in the manufacture of water supply piping from 1978 until 1995. Due to the low cost of the material and ease of installation, polybutylene piping systems were viewed as "the pipe of the future" and were used as a substitute for traditional copper piping. While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in the water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the polybutylene piping and plastic fittings causing them to scale, flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property. It is believed that other factors may also contribute to the failure of polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is virtually impossible to detect installation problems and micro-cracking deterioration throughout an entire system.

• The presence of polybutylene piping cannot always be determined as it can be concealed by storage or within walls and ceilings. Knowledge and awareness of the product can vary by regions and experience.

• When our field inspector identifies polybutylene piping as being present and there are noted visible defects, then it is RAL’s policy to report its presence and call for further evaluation by a qualified plumbing contractor to determine the current condition and provide recommendations for correction / replacement.

• If our field inspector identifies polybutylene piping as being present, but there are no visible defects noted, then it is RAL’s policy to report its presence and note on the summary page the following statement:

Although no visible defects were noted in the polybutylene piping in this home, the presence of this product is noted due to the potential for defects associated with some types of polybutylene piping.

• A qualified plumber may offer a written opinion that the visible polybutylene piping is in acceptable condition and no replacement is necessary, but keep in mind that the plumber’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement.

RAL understands the need for some clients to have polybutylene piping further evaluated by a qualified plumber before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property. Regardless of current condition, it is RAL’s position statement that polybutylene piping poses a risk of failure that can lead to significant property damage and loss of personal property. In addition the history and stigma associated with this product may put the client at significant risk of complete replacement demands by potential buyers. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of this piping.