Building Facts

Polybutylene (PolyB)

A form of plastic resin pipe that was manufactured and used between 1975 and 1998, but most prevalent between the late 80s and 90s. It was favoured to be used due to its cheap cost and installation compared to copper piping. It ceased being used after 1998.

Due to broken pipes, and failing systems, there was a class action lawsuit that was brought against the manufacturers of this material, which was eventually settled for $1 billion. This amount was set aside in a trust fund to assist those with PolyB material in replacing their water lines. This trust fund is no longer accessible and all associated information about it has slowly been removed from the Internet.

The are several reasons that PolyB started to fail, but evidence pointed at a couple main factors. The first evidence pointed to the fittings used to join the lines. There are two types of fittings, metal ones, and acetal (plastic) ones. It was found that acetal fittings were more prone to failure. Second, evidence linked the chlorine content of water to the failure of water lines.


Solid Single Strand Aluminum Wiring

Solid single strand aluminum wiring, which we will abbreviate as just solid aluminum wiring, refers to the majority of the electrical system on a house being made of the aforementioned material. This is not to be confused with stranded aluminum wires, which is acceptable by today’s electrical standards for high amperage circuits.

This was a popular material to use for the electrical system from the late 1960s to late 1970s due to the increasing price of copper. Aluminum was a more viable option due to the price.

However, it was later discovered that aluminum oxidized more than copper. This oxidization would start to compromise the connections of the wires. This was because aluminum oxide would build up and would not offer a strong point of conduction. Because the space was still close between the wire and connection, an arc would form, which is electricity passing through air. This arc would become a fire hazard, therefore properties with solid aluminum wiring systems were at an increased chance for fire.

Ultimately, the solution to this would be to replace the wiring system, but this can be expensive. Another possible solution would be to fix the connection points. This was done by essentially joining a small piece of copper to the aluminum wiring through a special connector. Therefore, the copper would be at the connection point, and the solid aluminum wire would serve to carry the electrical current.

This is commonly referred to as ‘pigtailing’ and does offer a much more economical solution to the issue. It is best to check with an electrician if this update would be appropriate as a remedy.


Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral that is mined, and the fibers were used in a multitude of residential building materials. This was because it was considered an excellent aggregate, resistant to fire, electricity, and corrosion.

It was later discovered that breathing in the microscopic fibers of asbestos would cause a form of lung cancer called mesothelioma, plus other possible cancers as well.

In 1980, asbestos was banned in the use of residential construction. However, due to there being a surplus of building material containing asbestos, much of it was used after the ban came into effect.

Since the numerous building materials that asbestos was used in was so vast, it is difficult to identify if a material contains asbestos without a lab test. Many safety organizations suggest to test for asbestos for any building construction prior to 1995, to be on the cautious side, however the chances are higher if the building is prior to 1980.

There are some well-known materials that have a reputation for containing asbestos. Some examples of these are vermiculite, asbestos tape, and types of asbestos tiles. However, it is recommended that if you suspect that you may create air borne particles to get the materials tested prior to doing so.

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