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Cox Lawsuit Ruling

In the mid 1990's a US lawsuit (Cox) claimed defects in "Polybutylene plumbing systems". The premature failures in the USA, allegedly caused by Polybutylene, were due to the incorrect use of acetal fittings and poor joint assembly techniques. While no official ban exists in that market, in view of the outcome of the US litigation, Polybutene-1 or products from PB-1 are not sold for use in North America.
 

More Information

The US Legal Case

What happened in the US legal case?

Co-defendants were sued in the mid 1990’s with claims alleging defects in “Polybutylene plumbing systems.”

  • The “Polybutylene plumbing systems” mentioned in the US legal case and attributed to piping systems failures, were actually pipes made from Polybutene joined to fittings made from acetal resin.
  • Premature failures were caused by the use of acetal fittings and poor joint assembly techniques.
  • Acetal is not suitable for use in the transportation of hot water with a high chlorine concentration, however PB-1 performs well under similar conditions.

cox vs shell incorrect combinations of pipe and acetal fittings incorrect installation
Shown above: From the legal case, are examples of fittings in a variety of materials that were included in the complaint against the so-called “Polybutylene plumbing systems.”

Polybutene-1 FAQ download
 


PB-1 use in EU & ROW

Polybutene piping systems have a record for long-term reliability and high performance in Europe and Asia, but were targeted with legal action for alleged system failures in North America.

In direct comparison

In Europe, Asia and the rest of the world, superior jointing standards for Polybutene-1 piping systems are achieved by both manufacturers and installers. Whether it's the jointing process in the manufacture of fittings (PB-1-to-PB-1, or PB-1-to-metal), jointing of pre-fabricated sections in the workshop, or jointing made on site.

There are four possibilities for joining PB-1 pipes with compatible fittings. These are:

  • Socket fusion (1)
  • Compression (2)
  • Electrofusion (3)
  • Push-fit (4)

polybutene piping fittings jointing methods available georg fischer The combination of materials and jointing method must be correct and designed accordingly to make a sustainable linkage.

Polybutene-1 has been in continuous service in Europe and Asia for over 40 years in pressurised hot and cold water installations and is widely recognised as the state-of-the-art technology for these systems.

PB-1 pipe applications installed in Europe for underfloor heating (since the early 1970s) and district energy (since the early 1980s) are still operating successfully.
 

global examples of major successful polybutylene projects

Examples: Polybutene-1 installations in Europe
Top (from L): The British Museum, UK; Canary Wharf, UK; Monarch of the Seas, Royal Albert Hall, UK; Säntis 2000, CH; Imperial War Museum, UK.

Bottom (from L): Tschuggen, CH; Hotel Les Trois, CH; Davos Hospital, CH; Almere District Heating, NL; Ulster University, IE; Rogner Bad, AT.


Service Excellence

Independent test results

Long-term reliability and chlorine resistance
ASTM F2023 test report obtained for PB-1 grade Akoalit PB 4267 confirming more than 50 years extrapolated lifetime at continuous use at 60 °C.   download

Assessment of Polybutylene Plumbing Installation after 18 Years of Service
Presented at Antec 2013 – independent study (onsite evaluation and lab testing) of the condition of a polybutylene (PB) plumbing system in a multi-unit apartment complex.   download
 

Customer base and track record

  • Polybutene-1 pipe customers are world-class pipe and plumbing converters (including PBPSA member companies) who manufacture and sell PB-1 pipes globally (outside of NA).
  • PB-1 pipes are installed in well known residential and public/commercial buildings around the world. See case studies on this website

Manufacturing and quality

  • PB-1 is produced at the 60 kt state-of-the art manufacturing facility in The Netherlands, with strict adherence to ISO standards and quality procedures.
  • Every batch of PB-1 produced is traceable and conforms to pre-defined product specifications.
  • PB-1 is recognised in international plastic pipe standards, e.g. EN ISO 15876, ISO 12230, DIN 16968 and DIN 16969.  Standards – full listing
  • PB-1 pipe is certified for water quality by TZW (Technologiezentrum Wasser, Germany), NSF (National Science Foundation, USA) and WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme, UK)

Performance testing – Long term service

  • Long-term ISO 9080 tests performed on PB-1 pipes project service lifetimes of 50 years or more.
    Reference curves for homopolymer and copolymer PB-1 grades are available upon request.
  • ISO 9080 tests are carried out according to international protocols by independent and accredited test agencies such as EXOVA.
  • Chlorine Resistance: PB-1 pipes are expected to have service lifetimes of 50 years when exposed to water containing 4 ppm chlorine at 60°C(Test Report Bodycote /P-07/09, 2007). Moreover PB-1 pipe has been shown to perform for >1,000 hours in chlorine content of 30 ppm at 30 C/6 bar (Test Report-No. PB 1087C, Infraserv Höchst Technik, 2004).

Are PB-1 pipes banned in the USA?

No – there is no US ban on the use of Polybutene for piping systems.
PBPSA members have made the decision not to sell PB-1 pipes in North America in view of the outcome of the US litigation process in the 1990's against the case co-defendants.
 


 

Polybutene-1 is often referred to as Polybutene, PB, PB-1 or Polybutylene.

Polybutene-1 is not sold by PBPSA members for use in pipe applications intended for use in North America, and those parties require their customers or distributors not to sell products made from PB-1 into pipe applications for North America.