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Repairing Leaking Polybutylene Pipe with PEX Pipe and Sharkbite PEX Fittings

September 25th, 2013 · No Comments

I came across a mobile home that had a bad leak under a sink from some old polybutylene (PB) plumbing.  The plastic plumbing had deteriorated and it was leaking from its connections  I tried fixing the leaks with rubber washers I had on hand and teflon thread tape, but it wasn’t working as well as I had hoped.  After reasearching the problem, I discovered I had polybutylene tubing plumbing and needed an inexpensive, quick and easy way to repair these plumbing leaks.  That solution ended up being 1/2-Inch PEX Tubing and some SharkBite push-fit fittings

What is Polybutylene Tubing?

PB pipe or Polybutylene tubing was used in mobile homes from the 1970’s through the 1990’s.  As this gray plastic plumbing ages, it often develops leaks and can be quite a problem for owners and residents.  I had the opportunity to fix some of this type of plumbing and this is how I did it.

Polybutylene plumbing is no longer sold, however there are adapters avaialable to convert it to newer, better plumbing types.  Common repairs are made with PEX, CPVC or copper.  Most of the materials you need can be found at hardware stores or online through amazon or other retailers.

Repairing Polybutylene Plumbing with PEX Tubing and Sharkbite Fittings

Sink repaired with PEX pipe and push-fit fittings

Sink repaired with PEX pipe and push-fit fittings

I choose to use PEX Plumbing, simply because it is the first option I found and I was already familiar with one of the manufacturers – SharkBite.  Their products seem to be well made.  I had a few different options even with using PEX tubing, but the amount of repairs I had to make was pretty small, so to keep the costs down I choose to use SharkBite push-fit fittings and some PEX tubing to complete the job.   The push-fit fittings are a little more expensive than other connection types, but they do not require the rental or purchase of a separate tool which would wipe out any savings on a small job.    Push-fit fittings are extremly easy to use and can be installed in a few seconds with no glues, chemicals or soldering – you just push them on to the end of your pipes and they form a tight leak proof connection.

If you have several connections to repair, you may find if cheaper to use one of the other connection methods such as crimp or clamp and rent or buy the required tools.  With the PEX crimp connection fittings, you would need to buy copper rings to place on the tubing in addition to the fitting and a crimping tool to securly fasten the fitting to the pipe with the copper rings.

Installing Sharkbite Fittings and PEX Tubing

I made the repair on a sink where the PB fittings were leaking below a sink.  I cut the existing polybutylene plumbing lines off a few inches below the existing fittings and then used push-fit PB to PEX fittings to connect a length of PEX tubing to the water lines.  Afterwards I connected female push-fit PEX fittings to the PEX pipe and then installed the new PEX fittings onto the water faucet.

At first I didn’t have one of the fittings on correctly and had to push it on a little more.  After each connection was secure, I turned the water back on and checked the lines again – the leak was repaired.  The hardest thing about this job was getting under a cabinet behind the sink.  These SharkBite push-fit PEX fittings and 1/2-Inch PEX Tubing really did the job and I would recommend them anytime you have to convert or repair old polybutylene pipe plumbing to PEX Plumbing.


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