Poly-B is a flexible plastic pipe that’s often grey, but could be blue, white, or red. To determine if poly-B exists in your building, look where lines are exposed, such as under sinks, in the utility room, or in the ceiling of an unfinished basement. See picture below for visual.
If your insurance company asks you if you have poly-B plumbing, you likely answered, “I don’t know.” Insurance companies need to know what types of plumbing are present in the buildings they’re considering insuring because it could have a greater risk of failure than others. Let’s talk about what poly-B is and why insurance companies and building owners need to know about it.
Polybutylene (Poly-B) plumbing is a plastic resin piping used for supply lines. It was used in many homes and commercial buildings in Canada, most commonly between 1978 and 1997, as an alternative to copper piping. It was discontinued and removed from the Canadian plumbing code in 2005 because the pipes have shown to be more susceptible to bursting and leaking as they age. This means that if your building has poly-B, there’s a heightened risk of water damage.
What it looks like
Poly-B is a flexible plastic pipe that is often grey, but it can also be blue, white, and red. To determine if poly-B exists in your building, look where lines are exposed, such as under sinks, in the utility room, or in the ceiling of an unfinished basement. It most likely has copper or brass fittings. If you suspect your pipes are poly-B, look for stamping on the piping, including PB or CSA-B. Some manufacturers also stamped the piping to indicate that it shouldn’t be used on continuous circulating hot water lines.
Why insurance companies need to know if you have Poly-B
If poly-B is in the building that you’re applying to insure, the insurance company may:
- Need to add a surcharge to the premium to reflect the higher risk of failure that poly-B poses.
- Give you a deadline to have the poly-B replaced.
- Deny offering water damage coverage.
- Deny offering any property coverage.
If you’re unsure whether your plumbing is poly-B, it’s best to have a plumber inspect the building’s plumbing.