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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Plumbing & Waterproofing > Replacing Polybutylene Pipes

Replacing Polybutylene Pipes Cost

How Much Does Replacing Polybutylene Pipes Cost?

average costPlastic Pipes: $1,500-$8,000+high costCopper Pipes: $2,500-$15,000+
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Polybutylene is a gray plastic that was used as a low-cost alternative to copper plumbing pipes from 1978 until 1995, most often in the Mid-Atlantic, South, Southwest and Pacific Northwest regions. Sometimes referred to as PB or by the brand name "Quest," polybutylene pipes deteriorate from the inside out, and may suddenly split under pressure. When re-plumbing a house, usually the new pipes will be installed first, the water supply transferred to the new system and then the old pipes will be drained and abandoned in place.

Typical costs:

  • Re-plumbing an average house with 1- to 2-1/2 bathrooms can cost $1,500-$15,000 or more, depending on the size of the house and the type of new pipes being installed. Re-piping costs are typically based on the number of fixtures, with each sink, bathtub, shower, toilet, etc. counting as one. Total costs will also depend on whether the house is one story or two, if the holes in the walls and ceilings will be repaired and repainted or just left open, and ease of access (if there's a basement, crawlspace or slab foundation).
  • Re-piping a house with plastic pipes -- either PEX (flexible plastic tubing made of cross-linked polyethylene) orPVC-CPVC (rigid plastic pipes made of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) -- typically costs $1,500 -$8,000 or more, depending on the number of fixtures. Re-piping a small 1-bathroom home with plastic pipes might cost $1,500 -$2,500, and a typical 3-bedroom, 2-1/2-bathroom, two-story home might cost $3,000 -$7,000 or more. Although there are some regional differences -- PEX tends to be more common in the West and Southwest, CPVC in the East -- in many areas one plumber may prefer PEX and another CPVC.
  • Re-plumbing with copper pipes can cost $2,500-$15,000 or more, depending on the number of fixtures and the ease of access -- and prices may vary significantly over time depending on the price of copper[1] . Although there have been problems with pinhole leaks in copper pipes in locations with acidic water, in most areas copper remains the premium material for plumbing pipes, and typically costs more than plastic pipes. For example, Pete Rodriguez of Atlantic Re-Plumbing[2] in Virginia says a 2-1/2-bathroom house with 12-13 fixtures that costs about $3,700 to re-plumb with CPVC would start at about $4,500 in copper, and could cost more. At Repipe1 in California, Danny Zilberberg says the 2-bathroom house that costs $3,499 in PEX would be more than $5,000 with copper pipes.
Related articles: PEX Plumbing Pipes, PVC or CPVC Pipes, Replacing Copper Pipes, Re-Piping a House, Plumber

What should be included:
  • A contractor will typically inspect the house before submitting a bid. Re-piping a house takes 1-5 working days and can require cutting 8-20 or more holes in the walls and ceilings. Usually the water will be turned back on each evening and the homeowners will be able to stay in the house during the re-plumbing. Copper typically takes longer or more workers to install than PEX or CPVC pipes. For example, Repipe1 in California typically schedules one day for any re-plumbing project, but uses a three-member crew to install PEX and a five-member or larger crew for copper pipes.
Additional costs:
  • A permit from the local building or planning department is typically required. The city of Hercules, CA, posts its re-piping inspection checklist[3] describing common code violations in re-plumbing projects. Permit fees vary, but typically cost $70-$400. This may be included in a contractor's bid or be an additional charge. The contractor may also charge $50-$150 to be present during required inspections by the local building or planning department.
  • Although there was a class action lawsuit settlement that reimbursed many homeowners for failing polybutylene pipes, the deadline has passed[4] for receiving money from that fund.
Shopping for replacing polybutylene pipes:
  • lists tips for choosing between CPVC, PEX and copper pipes[5] . explains how to hire a plumber[6] .
  • Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, or search for local companies through the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association[7] . Prices vary significantly, so get several estimates and ask about specific experience with re-piping.
  • Make sure the company is properly bonded, insured and licensed[8] ; ask for and check references; and look for complaints with the Better Business Bureau[9] .
  • A written contract should include a detailed outline of the work required and materials to be used, whether the company will be doing the work or subcontracting any of the project, and the dates within which the project will be done.
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