POLYBUTYLENE PIPE BREAK SURVIVAL KIT UPDATED SEP 23, 2008
(This information is provided for Montpelier Hills residents, without any warranty or assurances; use at your own discretion)
When your polybutylene pipes breaks, inside or out, call these two numbers:
301 206-4002 WSSC 24-HOUR EMERGENCY LINE:
If the break is in the main supply line in your front yard, call WSSC ASAP to limit damage your own property, your neighbors' and association property. It may take a few hours for WSSC to come. If the leak stops when WSSC shuts off their outside valve, then the break is on your side of the valve and YOU will have to fix it at your expense. If the leak does NOT stop when they shut off their valve, WSSC will fix and repair the leak at their expense. For inside breaks, only Michael T Rose Homes on Tuscany have valves allowing you to shut-off the broken line while allowing water to flow to other faucets. Otherwise, you'll need to shut off the main valve at your water meter (usually in the same closet as the hot water heater).So far in Montpelier Hills, all reported breaks have been in outside yard service lines.
800 876-4698 CONSUMER PLUMBING RECOVERY CENTER (CPRC):
For most homes, this coverage has lapsed -- but it can't hurt to check with them. IF you are covered, they will handle your claim over the phone under the Polybutylene class action settlement (you're automatically covered) and offer to send out a plumber to replace all of your polybutylene pipe (inside or outside, whichever broke) FOR FREE, or with copper pipe at a slight additional cost ($100 - $200). Anyway, call them before you commit to having a local plumber do any work, so you know your options (See below for how to have water in the meantime.) Make sure the plumber calls "Miss Utility" to mark underground utility lines BEFORE they begin digging or you and your neighbors may suddenly find yourself also without a phone or electricity, too. Take pictures and keep detailed notes (dates, times, who, what, where) of everything said and done.
Montpelier Hills residents may be qualified for a free replumb of all internal PB pipes for up to 16 years after the date of installation (but not later than January 31, 2009) for any PB In-House plumbing containing metal insert fittings, when installed in a single-family residence (e.g., a house, duplex, triplex, quadplex, condominium, or townhouse)... you may also receive reimbursement of other un-reimbursed expenses and damages" per the "Supplemental Notice of Polybutylene Plumbing Settlement": Houses up to 10 years old are eligible for free replacement of a broken PB outside yard line (water supply line). Here are some of the builders of Montpelier Hills homes who can help you document the age of your home -- but generally the First Settlement Daate is accepted:
Richmond American Homes, 3701 Pender Dr.
Suite 200, Fairfax, VA 22030, 703 352-0800, 800 966-7600
Winchester Homes, 12701 Fair Lakes Circle Fairfax, VA, 703 968-7988
Michael T. Rose Companies, 13920 Baltimore Boulevard, Laurel,MD 20707, 301 953-3110
HOW TO HAVE RUNNING WATER UNTIL YOUR BREAK IS FIXED (YARD LINE
Do these four things NOW, BEFORE the break happens:
1) Arrange BEFORE HAND with your neighbor to
let you connect a hose between their backyard outside hose faucets
and your backyard outside faucet.
2) Because you will be drinking this water,
flush out the hose very well first, or even buy a new one and save it
3) Build a female-to-female hose adapter using hose ends from a hardware store or garden shop like Home Depot, Lowes, etc..
4) Gently hack-saw off the brass one-way flow
(anti-siphon) device on YOUR outside faucet (don't cut the water
so water can flow INTO your house from the hose that you will connect to your neighbor's faucet when your break happens.
(The anti-siphon device should just unscrew after loosening a set screw -- but they are so old and corroded that usually them must be cut off)
After your Yard Line break:
Shut off the main water supply valve at the water meter inside your house, so water won't run out at the break. Then connect a hose between your faucet and your neighbor's and open both faucets. In winter, use the shortest possible hose length and run a cold-water faucet in your home at a slow but steady stream, to keep the water in the hose from freezing.
Whether you replace the line or only patch it, ask your plumber to use the water pressure (from your temporary hose connection) to blow any possible grit out of the line before reconnecting the line to the yard line valve. After the repair, run water out of the backyard faucet for 15 minutes before opening any faucet inside the house, so most of the grit will be cleared instead of clogging up your inside faucets.
ABOUT COPPER PIPE/TUBING
Most people would want their polybutylene pipe replaced with copper pipe/tubing,which is not much more expensive, but, as i understand it, P.G. County plumbing code doesn't allow copper pipe/tubing IF it runs through what is called "Elephant Trunk", which is a rectangular, accordian plastic conduit through which the PB pipe was originally run in many homes in MH. Apparently, the county banned copper pipe/tubing in elephant trunk conduit because leaks in the copper pipe developed just a few years after the replacement -- for reasons that are unclear. Anyway, if you have elephant trunk, your plumber will probably offer to replace your PB pipe with another black plastic pipe, which is Not PB and has been in use for many years without any of the problems of PB pipe. In any event, you should get some kind of warranty on the new pipe and installation, usually about 3 years.