My home has Kitec plumbing in it.

(Roy D. Cooke, Sr) #1

http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2015/03/06/kitec-plumbing-in-your-home-will-cost-you.html

By: Bob Aaron Property law, Published on Fri Mar 06 2015

My home has Kitec plumbing in it. Should I be worried?


The short answer is: Yes. Kitec plumbing was widely used in Canada and the U.S. in homes and condominiums built, or extensively renovated, between 1995 and 2007.
It was sold for pipes for drinkable water pipes, as well as in-floor and hot-water baseboard systems.
Kitec was marketed as a corrosion-resistant alternative to copper pipes and fittings, but was recalled around 2005 due to a tendency to corrode at an accelerated rate.
It is no longer manufactured.
Kitec may deteriorate or fail due to excessive water pressure or water running at temperatures hotter than the manufacturer’s rating of 77C (180F).
Industry professionals believe that homes and condominiums with Kitec plumbing and fittings will experience premature pipe failure, and failure rates will increase over time.

The pipes may not just leak but burst, with potential for flooding.
The only complete solution is to replace Kitec plumbing with copper pipes. This will typically require access behind walls and through floors.
Most Kitec plumbing can be identified by its bright orange (hot water) and bright blue (cold water) pipes, which were the most common colours, but it was also sold in red, blue, gray and black.

The pipe is typically marked with one of about 10 different brand names including Kitec and PlumbBetter.

Visible fittings are stamped with Kitec or KTC.
The best place to look for a Kitec system is near the hot water tank or in the mechanical room where the pipe connects to, or exits from, the walls.

Pipes are also visible beneath kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities. Electrical panel doors may contain a sticker stating that Kitec was used in the home and that the electrical system cannot be grounded to it.
One large midtown Toronto condominium was built with Kitec plumbing.

The anticipated costs to retrofit each suite with copper pipes ranges from $5,000 to $6,500 for one-bedroom units to $8,000 to $10,500 for two-bedroom and larger suites.

The prices include replacing plumbing and drywall but not kitchen or bathroom tiles which would have to be removed to access the pipes.
Each owner must pay for his or her own repairs, and those expenses cannot be charged to the condominium reserve fund.
The time needed for the work to be completed in each suite ranges from a full day for smaller units to as much as three days for larger units.
Kitec plumbing has been the subject of many lawsuits across North America, including a large cross-border class action which was concluded in 2011.

A settlement fund of $125 million (all figures U.S.) was established, with $25 million going to the lawyers in Canada and the U.S., and $100 million being set aside for claimants who have until January, 2020 to file.
With an estimated 87,600 claims, the payout to each claimant will be nominal and the final amounts will not be settled until the expiry of the claims period in 2020.
The Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission, which regulates the provincial real estate industry, takes the Kitec issue very seriously.

It 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, and how seller clients can make a claim against the class action settlement fund.
In Ontario, every residential purchase agreement contains a warranty about urea formaldehyde foam insulation.

Clauses about marijuana grow ops are often included. But I have yet to see a clause about Kitec plumbing.
The web site of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), with a mandate to administer the legislation governing real estate agents and to protect the public interest through “a fair, safe and informed marketplace,”

should consider adopting Nova Scotia’s approach.
*Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer. He can be reached at bob@aaron.ca , on his website http://aaron.ca/ aaron.caEND and on Twitter https://twitter.com/bobaaron2 @bobaaron2END. *

(Leonard Inkster, CMI) #2

Roy, Thanks for the post. Once again it indicates that the press will say anything to scare the crap out of consumers without first checking the sources of the information and then checking the facts and publishing them accurately.

Polyethylene cross linked piping (PEX) when installed according to manufacturers installation instructions is as reliable as a water distribution mechanism as any copper system.

The issues that caused the initial hoo-hah about PEX was the fittings produced for Kitec and Zurn. In both cases the brass fittings had too much zinc in the brass composition, which leaches out of the fittings given specific water conditions. This leaves the fittings porous and brittle, with a buildup of zinc oxide on the downstream side of the fitting.

This build-up increases the pressure before and at the fitting and coupled with the weakness creates the failure in the connection. The problem with the media is that they “read” what is written and then convert the terminology into terms that mis-represents the problems.

Plumbers don’t call the distribution system “plumbing” they call it “piping”. Plumbing documents written by plumbers refer to it this way too. Journalists see “piping” and assume, incorrectly that it refers to the tubing.

Some unscrupulous plumbers have allowed this to go unchecked, and even exacerbated the hype, because instead of being asked to repair faulty fittings and a small length of tube either side, they are getting complete re-piping jobs out of the scare.

PEX is a name given to a whole range of tubing, with the basic PEX being manufactured in types A,B or C, which refer to the manufacturing process, and does not define the grade of the tubing.
The letters A, B and C refer to the Peroxide (Engel), Silane and Irradiation (Electronic Beam) methods of production respectively.

In general, the higher cost of the PEX-A tubing is associated with longer and more expensive manufacturing process. PEX-A has higher cross-linking ratio then PEX-B, but generally has less uniform wall thickness. This consequently requires more expensive proprietary fittings and tools, and PEX-B has lower bursting pressure (data from independent testing). It requires more energy to manufacture and it is believed by some professionals to be more subjective to hydrocarbon oxidation which is believed to account for the lower lifespan of the PEX-A pipe.

In addition the type of PEX tubing comes in three flavours, Basic PEX, (PEX tubing with no oxygen barrier) Barrier PEX (PEX tubing with an Oxygen barrier (sometimes known as EVOH-PEX or Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol PEX for the polymer coating), and PEX-AL-PEX (or PE-AL-PE) which has a PEX tube on the outside and an Aluminum core tube.

The first of these three are used for fresh water and heated water for household consumption. The external polymer coating on this basic PEX does not need to be an Oxygen barrier, because the water that is flowing through the tubing has a high content of oxygen anyway, so barring it from entering the tubing from outside is pointless. These tubes have a matte finish.
The second is reserved (usually ) for Hydronic Heating, where the Ferrous components of boilers etc can be corroded by water borne oxygen. These systems and normally enclosed, and have treatments that remove the oxygen from the water so an Oxygen barrier is sensible. These tubes have a shiny surface because of the different finishing polymer.

PEX-AL-PEX is also designed for potable water, and unlike basic PEX has a higher tolerance for Chlorine and Flourine.

Almost all PEX tubing has the type and conformant standard imprinted on the side, and the colors are immaterial and DO NOT indicate the type of piping.

Correctly installed PEX is more resistant to freezing temperatures that copper and does not suffer from corrosion induced leaks.

The downsides of PEX are the fact that it degrades in sunlight. Leaving PEX exposed to sunlight leaves it brittle as the cross links break down. PEX is also susceptible to insect bites. You cannot use adhesives on it or near it, and barbecue it’s not metallic, it’s difficult to find behind drywall and is therefore more susceptible to DIYers with hammers and nails.

The major ongoing problem with PEX is using a type and classification of PEX for the wrong reasons, and incorrect installation using the wrong fittings, the wrong tools for fitting installation or the wrong pressures for crimp joints.

The brass de-zincification problem is a known problem with all brass fittings that can be traced back to the Royal Navy in the first world war.

As for inspections, the correct analysis is of the fittings, if they are stamped Kitec or Zurn then they need to be replaced. Any homeowner that is required to replace fittings in Canada because of an inspection or a leak can register for compensation against the class action lawsuit until 2020.

The link to give to clients with regards to claims can be found here: http://www.kitecsettlement.com/completingform.cfm