Experiences of Montpelier Hills Residents Replacing Polybutylene Yard Lines
January 14, 2005

-----Original Message-----
From: jim straw [mailto:straw534@yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2005 5:20 PM
To: mh-interact@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [MHI] Question about pipe replacement


I have attempted to summarize my experience with pipe replacement, the feedback I got from others, and what I've found snooping around the archives of this list.
     Tuscany Dr

My Experience:

The vast majority responded with their experience with Gathers burg Plumbing.  The typical cost seems to have risen steadily over the years to about $2000-$2200 now A few in the last 1-2 years were in the $1500-$1700 range and my cost was in the low-mid range $1750.

Since the vast majority of recommendations were Gaithersburg, and the days until WSSC would shut my
water off were ticking away, I was inclined to go with them. I was somewhat worried about a less experienced crew causing new problems: problems with rainwater drainage, crack the foundation, alligators in the sewers (actually I’m not really sure what I was afraid of).  [See Polybutylene Pipe Break Survival Kit
http://www.geocities.com/garolds/mh/pb.html  ]

The whole procedure took about 2-2.5 hours once they started, and was kind of fun to watch from my window.
The shape of the yard is about what I expected.  A few scratches on the the road/sidewalk.  The sidewalk’s temporary patch concrete was torn up.

The two guys Gathers burg sent seemed to really know what they were doing, and obviously had experience in the neighborhood, and they were very pleasant to deal with.  Initially the contract they had, indicated the wrong price, but they corrected it, and charged to my credit card.  I’m pleased with the result, although I wish USAA were paying for this and not me.  They used the black pipe with the pull-through method described in other accounts, and I think the warranty is 6 months .

Blurbs from Other Residents: (names removed to protect the innocent) [Some stories may not be recent.]

Gaithersburg Plumbing (410 or 301) 948-8856, who back in the day replaced our PB yard line with black flexible PVC (ok) for $975 when that was the maximum that the PB settlement would pay
[ See http://www.pbpipe.com/index1.htm ]
it depends on how much trenching they have to do. Last price: $1500
Quoted me $2200 or $2000 for 3 or more.
Try Gaithersburg Plumbing $1600 was the cost. Used Poly [sic] [*] ... piping. Too soon to tell if I am satisfied.
My replacement was done last winter when there was still snow on the ground; I had concerns about the
"finishing touches" 'was told that the  dirt would settle with time-it did; but, grass is difficult to grow in the clay areas.
I had the exact same problem exactly a year ago.  I called around, and Gaithersburg Plumbing gave me the best estimate.  I paid $2200.00, so $2000  is an extremely good deal.  As WeeBay said, they attached the new pipe to the old pipe inside the house and then pulled the old pipe out so they did not  have to dig a trench.  I would definitely recommend Gaithersburg  Plumbing.
Robert Bookhultz Plumbing, John C. Flood Plumbing, or Joseph Heil Plumbing?
We dealt with Blue Dot to replace the Poly pipes from the street into the house. They are extremely professional, reasonable, and responsive. $1800 Blue Dot Services
Words to the wise, good price but, ask what quality of pipe are they replacing. copper? or "black"
polybutylene [sic] [*] . Also ask how are they going to do it and have written into your contract a "what if clause" that protects you in the event structural damage may arise if they have to go another route than they intended to replace the pipe. For example, a person' garage had to be dug up in order to get to the pipe. Going through the garage was not the original intended route.
Mine was a "pull-through" yard line replacement which required no trenching, other than the big old hole they dug in my yard to get to the yard valve. That hole was the most expensive part of the project. One company quoted me $400 dollars less if I would dig the hole and fill it back up myself -- but I let them dig the hole :-) Several years ago the whole job cost about $1000, back when the Plumbing Claims Group set the maximum price that they would pay under the settlement Since the yard line part of that settlement expired a few years back (10 years after construction of our houses), local companies have wanted more than $1000 to do most yard line replacements.
The ones who did my yard line replacement were Gaithersburg Plumbing 7851 Airpark Rd, Gaithersburg, 20879 - (301) 948-8856. They inserted a long steel cable into the end of the PB yard line that was inside my house and pulled that cable through the inside of the old PB Pipe till it came out the end that was in my yard next to the yard valve. Then they connected the other end of that steel cable (inside my house) to a new (good) Black Plastic Pipe [not polybutylene]. Then they PULLED HARD AND SLOW (with a back hoe, others use a truck) on the steel cable, which pulled the new black pipe forward, which Pushed the old PB pipe out of the ground in front of it, with the new black pipe following into place behind the exiting PB pipe. This approach works best when the original PB pipe run is fairly straight, with no sharp corners in its path to the yard valve. That may be what Mr. Butler was describing, because I'm not aware of any technique where the new pipe is installed INSIDE the old pipe -- one reason being that the new pipe would have to be so much smaller in diameter than the old pipe, and that would limit the amount of water supplied. Now it is true that the under the house slab, the old PB pipe (and newly installed good Black Plastic Pipe) are run "inside" a large, roughly 3" x 4", rectangular black plastic conduit
called "elephant trunk" -- at least that is the case for most MH homes. As for the choice of copper or black plastic for the replacement line: My black plastic Replacement line has stood up well for several years -- I'm not aware of any problems with the coounty approved black plastic line. Ask Mr. Butler, but I understand that the county (at
one time at least) prohibited installation of copper line inside an elephant trunk conduit. Even though the elephant trunk is plastic, there are said to be some detrimental effects on the copper line if it is run inside elephant trunk. So copper line would probably require new trenching. Several years ago, I was quoted $50 extra materials
cost (only) for copper line instead of black plastic, but the difference may be higher now. AND this county is not alone in having problems with copper lines developing pin-hole leaks. See the links about that on my MH NEWS
Web site: http://www.geocities.com/garolds/mh
I just had this work done about three weeks ago.  I interviewed three firms and settled on Gaithersburg Plumbing. They've done a number of  homes here, so many in fact that they didn't need to come out and give
the estimate in person. You're right - they have a very clever technique where they attach a new pipe to the existing "blue pipe" and then pull the new pipe to occupy the same channel as the old one. Clean, quick, non-invasive.  They were here four hours and much of that time they spent talking to me just cause I was curious. When they filled the hole, they tamped it down as they went (with a back-hoe) to reduce settling.  No trenches in the yard, no new holes in the foundation or slab, no new indoor plumbing. I paid $2,000 even. I'm very satisfied.

[*] May mean another kind of black plastic pipe. P.G. County has prohibited installation of Polybutylene yard line since about 1990.