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Issues with Poly-B, and Home Insurance. (Feb /2021)

Home > Market News > Nancy’s Blog > Issues with Poly-B, and Home Insurance. (Feb /2021)

Poly-B Water Pipe can Affect the SALE of Your Home

  • Photograph of Nancy Smith
  • Qualicum Beach REALTOR®
  • Published: Feb 3rd, 2021 at 11:18 am

What is Poly-B Plumbing? 

Poly-B, also referred to as Polybutylene, is a flexible grey pipe used in hot water systems and residential plumbing. It was manufactured in between the years of 1985 and 1997 because of its flexibility, low cost, and ease of installation. It is estimated that in Canada alone there are over 700,000 homes that have had this piping installed prior to it being discontinued. Insurance companies generally require full replacement of Poly-B due to aging factors. It would be wise to research this issue before presenting an offer or contemplating a sale of a home.

This could really impact your purchase or sale:  UPDATE:   2,000 sqft two story home, QUOTE to replace Poly-B  =  $25,000 CAD    July 2022


Selling a Home with Poly B Piping

Poly-B Piping with plastic fittings and copper crimps


* Initially there were issues with plastic fittings and elbows which were prone to crack or break. In Canada we mostly alleviated this problem by using primarily copper and brass fittings and elbows. Plastic fittings, however, can still be found in some homes.
* Another claim is that Poly-B piping can deteriorate and fail, when exposed to extreme heat, very hot water and where water has high chlorine levels. Chlorine levels in Canada are much lower than those in the United States.
* Poly-B is permeable to oxygen. Poly-B used in circulating hot water loops is prone to deliver oxidized water which can be very hard on water heaters and boiler and drastically shorten their life.
* When exposed to sunlight for an extended amount of time, Poly-B piping can break down. Poly-B should not be used nor stored outdoors.


Initially Insurance companies made allowance for the age of Poly-B, and assigned a lifespan to the plastic pipe, which is now expiring.

Changing your Poly-B in your house can mean the difference between a quick sale and one where your house may sit on the market for a long long time.

As of 2018 most insurance companies are doubling down on houses that they insure that contain Poly-B piping inside them. They are sending out letters to inform homeowners that there is no coverage on Poly-B, or if they do provide it, it will come with a massive premium.

This leads to new homeowners purchasing houses with Poly-B. When they find a house that they put an offer on and are looking for insurance while they get there mortgage in order, the new insurance agents and mortgage brokers are looking for houses built between 1985-1997 that will contain polybutylene piping, they then inform the future home buyer that they don’t insure the polybutylene piping in the house or that it will come with a significant premium.

It is also become quite common for mortgage lenders to investigate houses with potential Poly-B. They find it hard to lend money on a house if the future homeowner is putting under 20% down to lend out the money knowing that there will be 100% chance of a Poly-B leak happening that will inevitably cause damage. Without a significant down payment the mortgage lender can’t guarantee that a homeowner won’t just walk away from the mortgage leaving the lender with a damaged house and the debt.

If you don’t want to change your Poly-B before you sell the house. Most likely the purchaser will have the polybutylene flagged in the home inspection, and might try to negotiate $20-30 thousand off the purchase price, because of all the issues and the hassle of getting a lender and insurance.  Unknown issues and costs will affect offers to purchase.

Recently in 2020, on Vancouver Island, a few rancher homes had upgraded their water supply from Poly-B at a cost of $3500. It is wise to shop for this service.

All in all, you would be much better to get the Poly-B replaced before listing the house on the market, and control the price of the Poly-B replacement and controlling the purchase price of the house.

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