Q: A plumber recently informed me that the 7-year-old home I purchased 10 months ago has faulty polybutylene plastic water supply lines and crimped fittings.

I’m told that these pipes must be replaced as the polybutylene will deteriorate and fail. He also said that this is a common problem and thought a class action suit had been filed.

I had paid a home inspector to look over the home when I bought it. His report failed to address this serious fault.

Who should I contact with respect to the class action lawsuit and any awards that were stipulated? Is my home inspector responsible for his failure to disclose this problem?

A: According to some of the legal papers in the case, starting in the 1970s, polybutylene plastic pipes were installed in millions of homes, particularly less expensive manufactured housing, as a cheaper alternative to copper pipes. The pipes started failing soon after they were installed.

In 1995, all class action lawsuits were settled. A $950 million fund was created by the manufacturers of the system for anyone who owned a home built through 1995 that used polybutylene piping whose system had leaked.

If you want to know more about the case, and whether you are eligible to collect any damages, you can check out www.spencerclass.com or call toll-free 800-490-6997.

If your home is completely finished (including the basement), your home inspector may not have been aware of the piping you had behind the walls. If some of the piping was visible, your inspector should have called the situation to your attention, and alerted you to the potential problems that exist with this type of piping.

It’s also possible the piping is in good shape. You can call and ask your inspector about the problems and see if he would be willing to come back to check out your plumbing system again.

Although you didn’t ask, it’s possible the seller wasn’t aware of the type of plumbing that the house had, or bought the house three years ago and didn’t have a problem while he lived there.

If the seller knew the house had polybutylene piping, and you live in a state with mandatory seller disclosure laws, and the seller didn’t disclose this, you may be entitled to damages from the seller. Consult with a real estate attorney for further details.

Feb. 28, 2001.