LESLIE: Alright, well hopefully we can help Clark in North Carolina deal with a polybutylene piping situation.
What’s going on there exactly, Clark?
CLARK: Well, I put a contract on a house and the inspector came back and said we’ve got something called polybutylene piping and I was curious what that means and is that a big deal, should I be concerned or how do I handle thinking about that.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely it is a big concern and it sounds like you had a really good home inspector to be able to pick that up. Polybutylene piping was used for many years as a domestic water supply piping and the problem is that it leaks; it leaks at the connections and there are a lot of class action suits that are going on now as a result of that piping system. So it’s definitely something to be concerned about. If nothing else, even if it’s OK, it’s going to have a perceived reduction in value for your home. If you try to sell it, it’s always going to be an issue that will come up. So it’s definitely something you want to avoid if at all possible, Clark.
CLARK: Now is there a difference between the different connections? Someone told me that the copper connections are better than the polybutylene connections. Or is that just a myth?
TOM: As you start to get into this issue, you will find that the various connection methods have different success and failure rates. But just in general, I would try to avoid polybutylene piping, if you can, because it does have a much higher incidence of leaking. You may also have an issue with your insurance company not wanting to cover you for those kinds of leaks; leaks that could stem from your plumbing system. So there’s a lot to think about and it is kind of a real bee’s nest once you start to get into it.
CLARK: Now there’s companies out there that will replace the piping. Is that something we should do if we really want the house?
TOM: It’s certainly something that should be a part of the negotiation. Absolutely.
TOM: It is a defect in the house, as far as I’m concerned, as a home inspector, a former home inspector myself.
TOM: So it’s definitely something that needs to be discussed and negotiated and certainly you could get some estimates on what it would cost to replace some of that plumbing; even if it’s possible to replace it. You know, it’s a lot harder to replace that plumbing after the home is up because it requires access. Is this a ranch or a two-story?
CLARK: It’s a three-story.
TOM: Three stories. So you’re going to have a lot of lines running inside walls and through floor systems and, yeah, it’s going to be very difficult to do that.
CLARK: OK. Well, I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Clark. Hopefully we’ve saved you some money.
CLARK: I hope so, too. Thank you.
TOM: We certainly have saved you some heartache, that’s for sure. Alright? Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.