Americans and Canadians usually take excellent water and sewer service for granted even though the bills for water tend to keep climbing. From cooking in the kitchen, doing laundry, or brushing our teeth, the functions of the plumbing system almost go unnoticed...until something goes wrong. Most plumbing systems are connected to public water supply and sewer systems but older homes and country properties may be serviced by private systems. Private systems are almost always going to be more problematic and hence expensive to operate and maintain than public systems.
Private systems usually have a limited life expectancy and when/if they need to be replaced, a new well can cost $10,000.00 or more, while a high-tech septic system usually starts at $15,000.00 and up. These replacements rarely present themselves as options and are frequently major budget busters.
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The blue supply piping seen above this tank-type water heater is polybutylene, also commonly called PB piping. This material was the subject of a class action suit which set aside funds for people to make claims in the event they experienced leaks with the system. The time deadline for filing claims has long past.
Initially, the leakage in the system was thought to be due to a vulnerability of plastic "acetal" fittings that joined the piping sections together. Later, systems employed metal (copper or brass) rings that were clamped down over similar metal fittings set within the ends of the pipe pieces.
To this day, no one is quite sure of the risks of leakage at the these types of fittings.