Kitec Plumbing was installed in many homes in Canada between 1995 and 2207. Kitec plumbing was sold using brand names; SKitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls, Plomberie Améliorée. Kitec plumbing was recalled in 2005 due to failure of pipes and fittings, costing millions of homeowners thousands of dollars in water damage.
IPEX was the manufacture of Kitec plumbing, which is no longer made. They are a large manufacture and still make thermoplastic pipe for potable water supplies, such as AquaRise® Hot & Cold Potable Water Distribution Systems, Polyethylene “Pipe with the Stripe”® and Philmac® Compression Fittings.
Plumbers considered this to be a good plumbing system because it was cheaper than copper and being of flexible material, it was easy to install. The pipes are made of polyethylene with a thin layer of aluminum. The Kitec plumbing system usually consists of blue and orange flexible piping and brass fittings. If your basement is finished, take a look near the hot water tank or under your kitchen or bathroom sinks. In addition to the orange and blue pipes, Kitec plumbing systems can usually be identified by the brass fittings, which will usually have one of the following stamps: Kitec, KTC, CSA B137.9/10 and ATSM F1974
The most common issues with Kitec plumbing are:
- It can’t take the heat. The orange pipes were only certified to run at a maximum temperature of 82 degrees Celcius, but hot water tanks can run hotter than this. The higher heat causes the pipes to deteriorate.
- Deteriorates under pressure: High water pressure can cause these pipes to fail.
- It will dezincify. Kitec plumbing fittings are made of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. When zinc is exposed to oxygen and moisture, it tends to corrode (dezincification). When this happens, zinc oxide forms blockages in the pipes that result in restricted water flow, and ultimately breakage and leaks.
- The plastic and aluminum layers expanded and contracted with temperature changes, weakening over time until the pipe burst.
One of the problems with Kitec plumbing is that the pipes won’t just leak, but are quite likely to burst causing water damage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though there are any actions a homeowner can take to prevent the pipes from rupturing. The only solution is to replace the entire system.
Kitec Class action settlement created a $125,000,000.00 fund in US dollars for claims regarding the Kitec System (which may consist of components, individual parts, or as a system, PEX-AL-PEX, PE-AL-PE, PERT-AL-PERT, PEX pipe, valves, fittings, and/or components, manufactured by or on behalf of IPEX whether sold under the names Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls, Plomberie Améliorée or otherwise). Claim filing deadline has expired, it was January 9th, 2020.
Monitoring your Kitec Plumbing
You should continue to monitor your Kitec System. The first sign of failure for the fittings is a buildup of white residue on the outside of the fitting. The first sign of failure for the pipe is a blackening of the pipe and/or a bulging of the pipe. Typically problems occur first near the hot water tank.
Real Estate Purchase Protection
Nova Scotia has issued an advisory to its member real estate agents instructing them how to identify Kitec plumbing, what they need to know about it, what clauses to add to agreements of purchase and sale.
Unfortunately Ontario has not made any efforts to midigate their clients exposure to potential financial loss through purchasing a property with Kitec plumbing installed. Purchasers should ask their agents to include a clause to protect themselves from this risk.
Note: Although the manufacture of Kitec plumbing was halted in 2007 it was still being installed in homes and condominiums in Toronto up to 2011.