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Why You Should Replace Polybutylene (Quest) Piping

Over the years, the preferred material that pipes are constructed with has changed significantly. During the 1980s, a new plumbing material known as “polybutylene” was introduced and took the market by storm. Also known as Polybutylene or “Quest” piping, this type of plastic plumbing line was both inexpensive and easy to install in addition to extremely durable, making a popular choice for builders. It remained a common material all the way up through the mid-1990s. If your home was built during this period, there’s a good chance you may still have some of this plumbing running through your walls.

If you own one of these homes, you should consider replacing your plumbing as soon as possible. While the evidence hasn’t definitively proved the problem, it’s widely believed that the inner walls of these plumbing lines became brittle and flaky because of oxidants in the water. Over time, the flaking resulted in weak points, which created micro-fractures, leaks, and the possibility for bursting under high pressure. Today, many home insurance companies won’t even cover homes that have these plumbing lines running in the walls, or at the least won’t offer coverage for damage from water line bursting.

Do I Have Polybutylene (Quest) Plumbing?

The first way to figure out if you have Polybutylene (Quest) plumbing lines is to consider the usage timeline. Polybutylene (Quest) plumbing first started being used in the late 1970s, and was most popular through the 80s and early 90s, all the way up through 1995. It was immensely common in the Sun Belt region, which means many homes throughout South Florida which were built during these years probably have these pipes. Likewise, if your home is older but was re-piped during these years, then there’s a chance you may have these plumbing lines installed as well.

Identifying Polybutylene (Quest) plumbing pipes is actually fairly simple. Polybutylene pipes come in one of three colors: black, blue, or gray, with grey being by far the most common. The easiest places to check are where your main water line enters your home, and where the water line is connected to your water meter.

If you don’t have any exposed lines in your home, there are other ways to tell. First, take a look at where your fixtures connect to your plumbing, such as your toilets, washing machine, or water heater. If you have gray plastic sticking out from your wall, then you most likely have Polybutylene (Quest) plumbing lines. In some areas of the country, plumbers were required to use copper “stub outs” in order to connect to features, so keep in mind that the presence of copper in these areas doesn’t mean you don’t have Polybutylene (Quest) pipes. If a quick visual check doesn’t provide you with a definitive answer, call a Fort Myers plumber and have them conduct a plumbing inspection and they should be able to give you an answer.

Will My Lines Fail?

The first question people often ask when finding out their home is outfitted with Polybutylene (Quest) plumbing is whether or not their pipes will fail. The answer isn’t straightforward—while evidence confirming the vulnerability of these lines is scarce, the truth is that we’ve seen instances where these lines have failed and caused immense damage. Whether or not your lines are at risk is something that’s difficult to tell, especially when you consider that one of the other biggest contributing factors to their failure is improper installation.

In other words, whether or not your lines will fail is impossible to tell. However, if you do have these lines, you should consider replacing them as soon as possible to be safe. There are many other materials on the market today which not only provide you the same low-cost and easy-installation benefits of Polybutylene (Quest) plumbing without the worry of corrosion and risk of micro-fracturing.