RALEIGH, N.C. — The following story originally aired Feb. 9, 2000
The plumbing in your house may be a leak waiting to happen, especially if pipes are made of polybutylene. It is a big problem, but homeowners who have had leaks are entitled to a big solution.
Polybutylene pipe was used in homes in North Carolina, and across the country, in the late 1970s through 1995.
The problem with is the pipe slowly deteriorates and eventually leaks.
many homeowners can get free repairs, although a lot of them still do not know that.
Polybutylene pipes have leaked in hundreds of thousands of homes across the country.
"I felt like my home was almost a time bomb," says homeowner Valerie Chambliss. "You just never knew when it was going to happen again, and I had been told once you had a leak or two, you'd probably continue to have them."
Under the terms of the class-action settlement, Chambliss got a re-plumbing job, costing nearly $5,000, done for free. If you have polybutylene pipes that have leaked, so can you.
"Ninety percent of our business is polybutylene pipe replacement," says Ken O'Neill, who manages Plumbing Express in Raleigh.
O'Neill says the first thing homeowners need to do is find out whether they have polybutylene pipes.
"Look under your kitchen sink, in and around your hot water heater, or in the crawl space," he says. "You can see you've got a plastic valve, and a poly supply tube, and you've got poly running to your dishwasher."
The main giveaway: if the pipes are gray, your pipes are most likely polybutylene.
Once you know you have polybutylene pipes, you should file a claim. You will need to provide documentation proving you have had at least one leak repaired.
Once the claim is approved by settlement administrators, the job is put up for bid. Then, a contractor is assigned, and the pipe is replaced.
It can be a lengthy process, but Chambliss encourages homeowners who have the pipe to get it replaced.
"Looking back on the week or two that my house was a complete wreck, I would say it was worth it. I feel like I have peace of mind," she says.
The only way to qualify for repairs is to have had a leak.
You can get a claim form by calling
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