What is the problem with Kitec Plumbing?
Kitec plumbing pipes may not just LEAK but can BURST causing a potential flood in the home. When the water temperature becomes hotter than the manufacturer’s rating of 77ºC (180ºF) or by excessive water pressure, it causes the Kitec pipes to deteriorate. Tests have shown that the plastic and aluminum in the Kitec pipe expands and contracts at different temperatures. Over time this can cause leaks or bursts, floods and damage. It’s only a matter of time before they fail. A major cause of leaks is ‘dezincification’ of the brass fittings. The problems first became apparent in Clark County, NV where approximately 30,000-35,000 homes, which were plumbed with KITEC systems, began leaking. According to court filings in Clark County, zinc was leaching from the brass fittings and collecting in the pipes, restricting flow and eventually resulting in leaks.
Finding Kitec Plumbing in your home
If you’re home or condo was built after 1997 and before 2007, consider exploring the pipes around your hot water heater (or if you leave in a condo, in the mechanical room where the pipe connects to or exits from the walls). You can also examine pipes beneath kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities. Some plumbers will install a copper stub where Kitec comes through walls and attaches to appliances. Your hot water tank is the easiest location to inspect. Many home owners may not be aware that their home has Kitec Plumbing installed, that is why a Professional Home Inspection is so important as there have been many products introduced over the years which have later been identified as a potential hazard or liability.
When was Kitec Plumbing installed?
Insurance companies have no consistency when dealing with Kitec plumbing installed in homes. Some will pay to replace it, others will insure homes but at a higher rate and others give homeowners a certain amount of time to replace it, or they will lose their insurance. Failing to notify your insurance company could result in a claim denial. Talk to your insurance company prior to buying home with Kitec Plumbing installed.
Kitec plumbing was installed in homes and condominiums from 1995 to 2007. Around 2005 Kitec was recalled due to excessive corrosion. Kitec plumbing and fittings may deteriorate or fail due to excessive water pressure or using water heated over 77C or 180F. Kitec is manufactured using a thin layer of aluminum covered with polyethylene making it flexible and easier to install than copper. The fittings are made of brass and are stamped with one of the following marks. ( Kitec, KTC, CSA B137.9/10, ATSM F1974 ) Although Kitec was the main brand name that it was marketed after it was also sold using the following names. ( AmbioComfort, AQUA, KERR Controls, IPEX, Plomberie Amelioree, PlumbBetter, WarmRite and XPA )
The most common colours of Kitec are Orange / Red for hot water and Blue for cold water. The product has also been sold in grey and black colours. Some installers will even put a label on electrical panel stating Kitec has been installed and cannot be used as ground for electrical.
Ipex, the manufacturer of Kitec, settled a class action lawsuit for $125 million, which was intended to pay for repairs in homes where the Kitec Plumbing systems failed. Claims can be made until 2020 where any remaining monies will be paid to home owners who have Kitec plumbing installed but has not yet failed. Claims still maybe submitted but their eligibility will be determined by the courts. Claim Form here
Many plumbing professionals believe homes with Kitec Plumbing and fittings will experience pipe or fitting failure in the future. The only recognized solution is to have pipes replaced in homes.
Thermal Imaging is a great tool for finding hidden water leaks which can occur in concrete floors with hot water heating or in condominiums where plumbing was installed in floors. Most professional home inspectors use Thermal Imaging when inspecting residential properties.
Many professional plumbers offer complete removal and replacement of Kitec plumbing installations. It is highly recommended that you get some quotes on replacement prior to purchasing a property.