What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

The Leak, Before The Leak, Before The Future Leak

When I moved a box that looked quite out of place, to see what was behind, I saw the leak, before the leak, before the future leak.  Was the box there to provide artistic concealment?  Sometimes it is!  I moved the box because it was empty.

Future leak?

I'll get to that.

This house was built in 1993.  The original water main was replaced with the ball and lever valve you see on the right side of this photo.

It is dripping.

Which brings us to the bell-shaped device.  That is the pressure-reduction valve.

That plumbing device reduces the water pressure at the street to a level that is more appropriate for a home's plumbing system.  If the pressure is too high it can damage plumbing, fixtures, appliances, etc.

It is dripping.

Which brings us to the gray plumbing tubing.  It is called polybutylene, or simply PB.

When it came out it was considered the end-all, be-all in plumbing tubing.  It was cheap, easy to install and thought to last forever.

It didn't.  It won't.

Read here what one my home inspection associations uses to teach home inspectors about it and how to identify it.

The older PB gets, the more likely it is to leak.  In PB life spans, 32 years old is VERY old.  The huge on-again and off-again class action suit which awarded homeowners money toward PB replacement is off again and out of money.

It can leak at any time, and when it does often the leak is catastrophic.  A small drip can open up to a dramatic leak in minutes or hours.  And then watch out.

So homeowners stuck with it now will have to replace it at their own expense if they need to, or can.

And purchasers that inherit it will have to consider that likelihood. 

It's best to replace it before a problem happens!  It is replaced with white CPVC or copper.  Plumbing companies that replace it typically give a couple of prices depending on which material is chosen to replace it with.  Here, for townhouses, replacement costs range from about  $4,000 to about  $6,500.  For single-family homes the prices go up from there.  So it ain't cheap!

It is a future leak waiting to happen.

My recommendation:  when boxes or furniture or whatever are placed in places that look odd, if I can I move them.  Sometimes their placement is intentional!  And artistic.  And beware what is behind!  Once a series of boxes were piled high all along a foundation wall that covered up a long, wide horizontal crack.  I could not move the boxes, but fortunately had a photo showing that they were there and that I simply didn't "overlook" and "forget to report" that disastrous foundation crack.  If you can look, it is great when you can!  You never know what you might find.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 28 commentsJay Markanich • April 24 2015 03:09AM

Comments

Not an inexpensive fix....but better the prevention than the disaster that can occur.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 4 years ago

Good morning Jay, I would have never give it a second thought.  Another reason to hire a inspector..

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 4 years ago

The disaster is quite more expensive S&D, and sometimes not covered by insurance which takes the position that PB isn't a covered product.

James - this is a big deal around here, with whole communities still plumbed with PB.  I know the areas and as such look when I get into houses there.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Nothing is more of a red flag than boxes stacked so as to conceal plumbing.

If my buyer has an interest in the property, I'll contact the listing agent and ask that the appliances or systems be easily accessed for a home inspection.

That said, I know of some communities in Leesburg that were constructed during the PB era. 

Life is an adventure.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 4 years ago

Leesburg, Cascades, Vienna, Woodbridge, Manassas, Warrenton, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Dumfries, Dale City - thinking further I could go on Lenn.

I am familiar enough by now that I know what to look for.  But boxes are a clue!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Good morning Jay. This sort of thing is odd. I understand your concerns and share them.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) about 4 years ago

Odd but not uncommon Sheila.  Especially the placement of boxes thing.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Have seen a few with PB and never thought twice about it. Will make sure it is a question to be answered.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) about 4 years ago

It's a big deal Raymond.  I have horror stories to tell.  Experiences of people who did not know, or  did not listen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Here is the inside glimpse of an ace inspector...repairs stand at attention when Jay is called in

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 4 years ago

You always spread honey butter on me Richie!  Thank you.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

So what came first, the leak or the leak?

I am seeing a lot of PB here, never seen it at all in Florida. I just wrote one about PB here.

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 4 years ago

It was the first leak Fred.  I think.

Here there are companies that do nothing but replace PB and they are good at it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Nice catch Jay.  It's always nice to know what ticking time bombs are in a house BEFORE you buy.  You really exemplify the need for home inspectors.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) about 4 years ago

Jay, once again you are The Ruler of Authority in the Inspection world! So smart and savvy and you have answers, not just questions and you are a teller of the future! Wow AND a *feature*, take the rest of the day off--you deserve it.

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) about 4 years ago

To leak or not to leak - that is the question!   haha

Posted by Shanna Day Team Leader (UT & AZ), Keller Williams Realty (Keller Williams SLC (UT) and Keller Williams Realty EV (AZ)) about 4 years ago

Thank you Stephen.  Sometimes there are bombs!

Thank you too Gayle.  I like the features because they get a little extra SEO juice.  I've had a few.

Thank you too Shannaspeare.  And, of course, poor Yoric.  It wasn't much of a question today!

; >)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Jay  - I aways try to move things that look out of place if at all possible.  It is important for buyers to hire professionals like yourself to find these type of issues.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 4 years ago

Jay Markanich well, obvious question why something is out of place - so a sharp eye from inspector is good enough to reveal the fact - I mean reveal the leak!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) about 4 years ago

Joan - in this case moving things was easy.  Sometimes it is not!

Praful - often things are piled all over and you can't tell what's out of place.  But other times somethings just look odd.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

The things you guys can find always impresses,  Great reason to always use a certified home inspector.

Posted by Mark Zubek, 727-656-2651 Rental Manager/Broker Associate (Land of Liberte' Realty) about 4 years ago

Mark - I can't drive through a neighborhood without critiquing houses.  My kids don't want to ride with me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

I find the two part series of articles in the ASHI Reporter by Kenny Hart (A Viginia plumber and HI) from 2001 to be an insightful resource on PB. Hart installed the material for many years and shares a plumbers point of view. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 4 years ago

Thanks Jim.  I liked that article a lot.  Common sensical and simple.  There is a lot of mis- and disinformation out in the public.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Jay - Fining the future leak before the leak is much better than finding the leak later.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 4 years ago

'Tis Christine!  And leaks that happen with this type of plumbing pipe are typically disastrous.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

I can't even remember when the first BOLO went out for PB Jay Markanich but it's been on my watch list for a while. Excellent reminder for all!

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) about 4 years ago

Seems to me they knew within a couple of years that it had problems Kevin.  But it's still out there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments