What is Bluemax and why is it bad?
Blue polyethylene (later replaced with a similarly faulty product called BlueMax) is a type of plastic water pipe designed to be a cheap alternative to copper plumbing. It was until homeowners started experiencing high water bills and pools of water in their yards. It was then that we learned that blue poly was particularly susceptible to pinhole leaks and cracking due to the natural chlorine content of our water. The chlorine attacked the walls of the pipe, weakening it to the point of small pinholes, and sometimes complete breakage.
Don’t try to fix it! replace it. my brother-in-law who lives in Cincinnati had this kind of pipe. The first break was in the center of his yard, then two months after he had it repaired it split where it entered the house, what a mess.Susi S.
How Can I Tell If My Home Uses Polybutylene Piping?
If you’re not a plumbing expert, then it’s likely you don’t know how to recognize polybutylene piping. Here are some of the easiest ways to recognize polybutylene:
- Check your pipe color. Blue, silvery gray, and black pipes that were ½ inch to 1 inch in diameter were most common for polybutylene, so if you see this in your plumbing, they are most likely poly pipe. Blue ones were typically used outdoors for cold water while silver-gray and black were interchangeable.
- Check for copper connectors. If you don’t see any blue piping, then look for copper connectors since polybutylene piping often has a copper compression ring.
- Check for an identification stamp. See if any of your pipes have identifiable stamping on them. Most polybutylene pipes were stamped with the letters “PB” with a subsequent set of numbers.
- Check your water usage. It’s possible for polybutylene piping to be hidden in the ground where you cannot see it. If this is the case, you will want to monitor your water usage, checking for unusually high water bills, a constantly-running sump pump, or even wet sections of your yard that never dry. These are all signs that you might have polybutylene piping deteriorating underground.
- Do some research. Look into what areas most commonly used polybutylene piping and see if your home is in one of those areas and find out if your home was built between 1975 and 1995. If either of these are the case, it’s highly likely that your home has polybutylene plumbing.
Why Should I Replace Polybutylene Piping?
Polybutylene pipes can take upwards of 10 years to fully deteriorate and leak. However, when the time has passed and they’ve deteriorated, they can cause severe damage to your home. Cracks in your foundation, leaks and mold in carpets, damage to furniture, walls, and even your HVAC unit are all possible expenses of polybutylene pipe issues.
If a leak occurs unnoticed, it can easily develop into mold and mildew growing in your walls, under your carpets, or even in your air duct system, which presents serious health risks.
Remember that these pipes wear away from the inside out, meaning it’s difficult or impossible to know the extent of the polybutylene pipe issue without removing them. If you suspect your home might have polybutylene pipe issues, give us a call and we can come out to give you a professional assessment of your system and determine if the safest decision is to replace them.