Money may flow in faulty Kitec plumbing suit

Canadians may be eligible for part of the $128-million US settlement against Kitec


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Faulty pipes cause headaches for homeowners

Frank Cappellino, a LaSalle, Ont., homeowner shows where a pipe burst, flooding his basement last fall. (Karen Brady/CBC) Canadians who installed plumbing that eventually leaked will learn Thursday if they will be financially compensated for doing so.
Two weeks ago, a proposed $128-million US settlement was reached in class action suits filed in Canada and the United States against IPEX USA LLC involving its Kitec system plumbing products.
A Canadian judge in Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday approved the agreement and said the settlement was fair, reasonable and in the best interest of the class.
On Thursday, it goes before a Quebec justice. If it gets the nod there, clearing its final hurdle, some money will start to flow within the next few months.
The North American class action suit came about because of allegedly faulty pipes which cause leaks for homeowners.
Nicolas Rosati of Windsor was one of the initial plaintiffs. Other area residents have told the CBC their leaky pipe stories. And still others with the faulty brand of pipe are concerned about what might happen.
“If I decided that I wanted to sell my house tomorrow, how am I going to do that with defective plumbing or possible defective plumbing in the house?” LaSalle’s Mark Hicks said. “The value of my house is not going to be the same as it would be if I had copper [pipe] in the house.”
Walt Zarzecki also has the potentially leaky pipes.
“I have to worry about coming home; that there [may be] water in the basement,” he said. “Right now, I don’t have have any signs of any leaks or discolouration in the lines but they’re saying if you don’t have, you will have.”
Kitec was installed in nearly 300,000 North American homes. So far, lawyers for the plaintiffs say 250 total claims have already been filed and 3,300 more are interested.
The Kitec plumbing system consists of blue and orange flexible piping and brass fittings, used to carry cold and hot water through a home. Kitec products were also used in radiant heating systems.
The pipes were made from polyethylene and a thin inner layer of aluminum, and plumbers considered them to be an excellent product because they were cheaper than copper and their flexible nature made the product easy to install.
The class action lawsuits in Canada and the U.S. allege that the product was negligently manufactured, which caused the pipes to disintegrate prematurely.
Canadians have until 2020 to file claims.
IPEX, the company that manufactures Kitec, has not admitted fault in the matter, and had no comment.

Local homeowners file separate suit over Kitec damages

A group of South Plains homeowners has filed a separate lawsuit in Lubbock County District Court against the manufacturer and wholesale distributor of a defective plumbing pipe system recalled in 2005.

Posted: January 31, 2012 - 7:21pm | Updated: February 1, 2012 - 1:52am

Local homeowners file separate suit over Kitec damages
A group of South Plains homeowners has filed a separate lawsuit in Lubbock County District Court against the manufacturer and wholesale distributor of a defective plumbing pipe system recalled in 2005.
The suit, filed Jan. 24 and assigned to 99th District Judge William C. Sowder, seeks unspecified damages from IPEX USA, the U.S. division of the Canadian manufacturer of the Kitec plumbing system, and Fort Worth-based Morrison Supply Co., a nationwide plumbing supply wholesaler.
Neither company responded to telephone messages seeking comment for this story.
The 30 homeowners include 26 from Lubbock and one each from Levelland, Plainview, Ralls and Sundown.
All of them had chosen to be excluded by the end of September last year from a class-action suit in U.S. and Canadian courts so they could file a separate suit. IPEX agreed to settle the class-action case in November for $125 million.
The reason the local homeowners excluded themselves, said Fernando M. Bustos, the local case’s lead attorney, was they felt they could receive compensation more in line with what they spent to replace the failed plumbing and pay for water damage to their property.
The class-action case envisions a two-tiered payment plan. The initial payment to property owners would be a flat fee to cover plumbing repairs with an adjustment if the repairs required removing drywall or cutting into concrete. A second payment would be made in January 2020 — if repair claims don’t exhaust the fund — to cover unpaid plumbing repairs or property damage losses insurance hadn’t covered.
The local suit alleges the two companies should have been aware they were putting a defective product on the market because the chemical process involving the Kitec fittings is a well-known effect of brass coming in contact with water on a long-term basis.
Brass is an alloy made of zinc and copper; water passing through the fittings causes the zinc to leach out. This weakens the fitting and creates a powder buildup with the potential to cause pipes to leak or burst.
The Kitec system, initially marketed as a construction alternative to copper pipe in the U.S. in the early 1990s, combined pipe made of a thin sheet of aluminum sandwiched between two sheets of plastic with brass fittings for connections to faucets and other hardware.
While it’s not known exactly how many homes locally were built with Kitec plumbing, local home inspectors estimated in interviews with The Avalanche-Journal it was used here between 2003 and 2007.

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Is is safe to say all plastic piping that carries pressurized hot water will fail sooner or later?

Better put this on my report from now on


I try to never box myself .
.I think putting this in a report with out the facts could cause you some difficulty .

I just recently lost the sale of my home due to the home inspector reporting to the potential buyers that I have Kitec piping for my Hot water Baseboard heaters from my boiler, and his report said that the pipes will burst and the system will fail, in a fear mongoring way. It took all the real estate agents in Halifax, NS by suprise because no one had heard of any issues here, nothing about the laewsuit, and there are a lot of homes here with the IPEX Pex-Al-Pex piping for the HWBB. So lost the sale and had a plumber come in and remove all the fittings, and pipe. The result, yes there were minor leaks (more so minute drips that showed no collatteral damage or even a water stain. Once removed the fittings showed absolutely no “zincification” they were all healthy, the pipe had seperation between the Pex and the aluminum, but still very servicable. All in All this is a very major headache, one caused by an overzealous Home Inspector who did absolutely no research except a google search. I talked with numerous plumbers and all told me to do nothing, that ripping it out is like removing a good organ, and no Doctor would do that. But I need it done because we want to sell our home to move back to our hometown. So agents and Home inspectors before freaking out potential buyers maybe have the system really inspected by a certified plumber before making any rash decisions.

**Do I really need to comment on this? **

I’m curious as to why, “after talking to numerous plumbers” you still had the plumbing replaced then ? You could have just left it as it, and put something like “House for Sale !! MINOR leaks…No extra charge” in the sale agreement. The “Fear mongoring,” “overzealous,” “freaking out” HI should get a medal for bringing this information to your attention.

I’m having similar issues. No leaks at all yet inspector says it will fail and the buyers backed off my 5 yr old house. I called a plumber friend who said if its not leaking DON’T replace it. He told me stories of how his company regularly has to replace copper piping in 10-15 year old homes due to breakdown. Yet copper piping is not frowned on. Very odd.

I called in another plumber who said do not remove it if it is not causing issues. Most issues will show in the furnace room where the heat is more and at the heater couplers. If the pipe is not browned and bloated and if the fittings are not white then there is NO issue.

This does seem to be fear mongering in some instances as the info is not correct. In IT we call is FUD ( fear, uncertainty, and doubt ). The lawsuit is not completed. It is not proven any more than copper having issues. From a home sellers perspective it seems everyone is just trying to cover their behinds in case anything does happen and this does not benefit anyone.

I’m waiting on word back from insurance companies to see if a home with Kitec is insurable. If not I’ll have to replace my excellently working system - and it will be with a heat pump and a 20k increase to the buyers. I’ll just abandon the piping and sell the furnace.

I’m surprised the oil companies are not fighting this as it will mean a flood of clients away from oil!

Regardless, please don’t state hearsay and alleged things as fact just to sound important or to cover your posteriors please. Be factual.

Also, to the inspector who quoted this quote with red about some minor weeping. Get over yourself. Moving the pipe during removal could have caused this. The problem is ballooning and exploding pipes not weeping due to a poorly done join. This happens with all types of pipes. Why do hwbb furnace systems need air purged? Weeping?! Come on. It’s comments like this and FUD that gives the real and honest HI a bad name.

I know you probably had to do a course for your HI work. But are you a plumber? Or a home heating certified person? Keep your comments within your skill set please.

So here are my results:

A home heating plumber (senior guy) came out and inspected my piping. He gave me a letter stating that there is no problem with pipe leaks or fittings.

A also spoke with 3 different insurance companies all who would insure my home with no issues. One said that one of their underwriters wouldn’t cover it but the other 4 would. Similar to how some will insure homes with wood stoves and others won’t.

So while it is nice for clients to know of a potential issue, it may be best to not preach the rip and replace doctrine since in many cases this is just not true. What’s next telling clients to pull their electric wires because a winter storm may make the power go out!

Just be honest!

Mr. (or Mrs.) is it really that bad: could you please post where you are from so that people from the relative area can comment? If you feel strongly about your position then using an anonymous name shouldn’t be needed. (notice none of the members have that benefit…)

Simply put, most inspectors err on the side of caution and would be found negligent (quite easily) in a court of law for not raising the kitec issue to a client given that there is a 125 million dollar lawsuit being awarded for this very defect.

It would be like saying that even though all 6 of your neighbours fell into a sinkhole, since this house is here and hasn’t fallen in one, its fine with no worries…

Maybe the inspector in question could have brought a more balanced argument to the table but he would be a fool to say its fine and always will be, based on the results of a home inspection (which is non invasive GENERAL survey of the home) Furthermore, its not his job to keep buyers from walking–if they were uncomfortable then that is their right–I’ve seen people walk for a whole host of reasons that you or I would consider insignificant…

I tend to agree that alot of these issues get blown out of proportion by the media etc (knob and tube wiring, aluminum, UFFI to name a few) but we still have to educate the client about all of them, regardless of our personal feelings.

It’s Mr. And thanks for your comments. I have had 3 good results with inspectors and a few bad. Educating the client is key, but both sides are best. For example we were once selling a home and the inspector took the clients to the attic and highlighted the visible light in the eaves. He did not explain that this was a sign of good ventilation. They walked thinking there was a hole in the roof. I should have been able to sue him for loss of a sale. When I called him later he explained it to me but failed to explain it to my potential buyers. Another inspector highlighted that the furnace fuel vent pipe was only 10" above the fillup pipe and he felt it should be 6’. Code here is 6". So personal opinion and lack of proper explanation showing both sides of a potential issue is as bad or worse than misinformation. From a sellers perspective it seems like the intention is to fault all buyers from buying so they will get repeated inspections on other properties.

The comment about my home being fine and 6 of the neighbours having issues is extreme to say the least. All the plumbers I spoke with (4 now) have said that of all the hundreds of thousands of feet of this pipe installed in my area they have not had one call due to the lawsuits issues ( that of bulging pipes and whiting fittings causing failure ).

So perhaps a good question would be, of all the homes with this in it how many have had issues? Percentage wise it is most likely less than those with copper having issues of some sort.

One insurance agent said they cover homes with this pipe but they are hearing from inspectors that it should be replaced… Even though they haven’t actually processed any claims for water damage due to this.

So please be honest, yes by all means, and disclose issues, but stop crying wolf over something that is still being investigated and something that is not what you are making it to be.

Btw, my name and address are not required. My concerns are common and generic enough to be anonymous. Someone has to speak for all us ripped off home owners.