If your house was built between the years 1985 and 1997 in Canada, it will most likely have Polybutylene or “poly-b” piping. Why does this matter? Polybutylene piping is extremely prone to leaks. The failure rate is around 95 per cent! Some say, if you’ve got poly-b piping in your home it’s not if it will fail but when. And when failures and leaks happen, the damage to your home can be extensive.
If your home was built within the poly-b timeline, it’s a good idea to look at your pipes to confirm whether you have poly-b. You can determine whether your home has poly-b plumbing by looking for a grey coloured flexible plastic piping – there are lots of images online for reference. If, after taking a look, you’re still unsure if you have polybutylene piping, you can always call a plumber to come and take a look for you.
Years ago, insurance companies would cover the cost of re-piping a home or fixing a leak. Not anymore. Instead, many insurance companies now charge a person a higher insurance rate if poly-b is in your home and in many cases refuse to renew your policy.
You have a couple of options:
Obviously, there will be a cost to replace all the poly-b in your home and it can be disruptive. But since poly-b will leak eventually, it really is something that needs to be done. If you do decide to remove/replace all the poly-b in your home, you’re going to want to work with an experienced contractor that will replace all drywall and include all other trades needed to complete the job properly. They should also protect your furniture with covers and do a thorough cleaning of your home upon completion. Once the poly-b is gone, getting or renewing your home insurance won’t be any problem at all.
If you simply cannot afford to do a full remove/replace right now, there are leak detection devices that can be installed in your home. These devices will alert you of any leak in your pipes quickly to minimize damage to your home. In many cases, installing these devices will show insurance companies that you are aware of your poly-b problem and doing something to minimize the chance of a leak causing huge damage to your home. Most likely, your home insurance rates will be increased but you will might still be able to purchase or renew insurance.
The “cross your fingers and hope for the best” approach to dealing with poly-b piping is the most problematic from an insurance standpoint. Insurance companies just won’t take on the risk of insuring a house that is destined to have a significant claim. Most likely, you won’t be able to find an insurance company willing to take on your home insurance. And if you do, the cost of that insurance will most likely make the other options above look like more reasonable solutions.
If you’re looking for an insurance broker that understands the poly-b situation you’re in and can work with you to find a solution that works, give us a call.