Kitec® Plumbing has received a lot of attention over the past few years by real estate professionals and condo-buyers alike. If you currently own or have been looking to buy a condo or townhome over the last few years you may have heard of it. There’s a lot of misinformation out there so we thought we would shed some light on Kitec®.
How Do You Know If You Have Kitec®
The Kitec pipe is typically blue in color for cold water applications and orange in color for hot water applications. The pipe is usually marked with one of the following brand names; Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée. Where the fittings are visible look for the words Kitec or KTC on them. The terms CSA B137.9/10 or ATSM F1974 could also indicate that you have a Kitec system. Often, the best places to look for the Kitec system is near the hot water tank or in the mechanical room where the pipe is connected to or exits the walls. Also look under kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities, where the pipe and/or fitting exits the wall.
Kitec® in Liberty Village
To our knowledge, the Liberty Village Townhomes are the only developments that currently have Kitec® plumbing. 50 Lynn Williams has undergone a full Kitec® replacement project for the whole building which is scheduled to be complete in March 2018. The Townhomes have no plans in place for a full replacement at this time.
What is Kitec® Plumbing?
- Kitec® is a brand of plastic piping used in hot and cold water supplies to plumbing fixtures, and in heating systems with boilers. It was made from 1995 to 2007.
- It is cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). It often has a thin layer of aluminum embedded between the inner and outer PEX walls. That type is called PEX-AL-PEX. The aluminum prevents oxygen moving through the pipe walls. Oxygen can lead to corrosion of boilers, for example.
- PEX piping, including Kitec®, was popular because it was faster (less expensive) to install than copper. PEX continues to be popular for both plumbing and heating systems in homes.
When is Kitec® An Issue?
- According to Carson Dunlop, one of Toronto’s leading home inspection companies, as of January 2016, they have seen very few failure problems with this piping in their inspection area. A class action lawsuit was issued in 2011 against IPEX Inc., the manufacturer of Kitec®, alleging that the Kitec® System “may be subject to premature failure and otherwise may not perform in accordance with the reasonable expectation of users.”
- The lawsuit includes other IPEX products in addition to Kitec®. Many of these are solid wall PEX pipes with no layer of embedded aluminum. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no premature material failures with these pipes.
- IPEX and their insurance company settled, and set up a $125 million fund to provide compensation for those with Kitec® failures.
- One alleged issue is with fittings that contain high levels of zinc, resulting in corrosion and weakness over time.
- May result in leaks and water damage to the home
- May also result in clogging and poor water pressure and flow
- We don’t know if the issue is limited to areas with certain water chemistry, for example, or whether there were manufacturing issues with some of the product.
- The other issue is dark spots and/or blisters forming on the pipe.
Identifying Plumbing Involved in the Lawsuit
- It’s usually blue on cold water piping and red or orange on hot water piping. It may also be black, white or grey. Heating system piping is most often orange.
- Piping named in the lawsuit includes the following brand names: Kitec, Plumbetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée.
- Fittings may also say Kitec or KT.
- Where to look:
- Near the hot water tank or near the boiler.
- Under kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities.
- There may be a notice on the electrical panel stating that Kitec® is used in the home, warning electricians not to ground the electrical system to it.
- You can also ask a professional home inspector or a plumber.
What if you have piping named in the lawsuit?
- Register with the class action website as a precautionary measure. If you have a problem, you may be reimbursed, in full or in part.
- You have until 2020 to register
- Carson Dunlop’s best advice is to do what the class action website advises:
- File a claim as a precaution.
- The website is not recommending replacing the pipe where there are no issues.
- Watch for white corrosion on brass fittings. Contact a plumber if you see any discolouration, or notice a drop in water pressure. Hot water piping is more vulnerable than cold.
- Watch for black spots or blisters on the pipe, particularly near the water heater.
- Reminder: We have seen very few problems.
If you are planning to sell your condo or townhouse and have Kitec® plumbing you should disclose its presence or your could find yourself in legal hotwater (ahem…no pun intended). Contact us for more information.
Thanks to Carson Dunlop for all of the helpful info. Have questions? Email Michael Camber at [email protected]