The Problem with Kitec Kitec is a type of water supply piping made by a Canadian company called IPEX from 1995 to 2005. It has a thin layer of aluminum in the middle and inner and outer layers of pex plastic (cross linked polyethylene). Most of the fittings used to connect the pipe segments together were brass. Brass is an alloy made primarily of copper and zinc. Brass is normally a pretty stable compound, but many of the fittings used with the Kitec pipes were manufactured with way too much zinc. This allows the brass fittings to literally be dissolved by the water that the pipes are carrying by a process called dezincification. This effect is usually speeded up in the hot water plumbing or if the house has “aggressive” water; so problems with Kitec often show up in the hot water piping first. As the zinc leaches out of the brass, it comes out in a very sticky, gooey form. This goo starts to build up inside the fittings as well as inside the pipes. This, in turn, begins to restrict the flow of water. Also, the structural integrity of the brass fittings can be lost as they slowly dissolve which has led to failure and leaks. Also, apparently due to rapid loss of an antioxidant added to the pex plastic pipes themselves, there have been reports of Kitec pipes bursting as well. Since the Kitec pipes and fittings are carrying the household supply water, which is under pressure, leaks and floods have occurred. And if nobody is home when the failure happens, catastrophic flooding can and has occurred because the water just keeps coming until the problem is discovered and someone turns off the water.
How to tell if you have Kitec Kitec was installed mostly in upper scale custom homes in Lubbock from around 2003 to 2007. Kitec is most common in the area southeast of Slide Road and 98th street. The most common colors used were bright orange and bright blue (as shown in the picture above). If you see any of the bright orange pipe in your house, it is Kitec. However, Kitec was also sold in red, blue, black and gray. The pipes usually say Kitec, but could also say PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, Canada, Plomberie Améliorée, WarmRite, AmbioComfort, XPA, or KERR Controls. The fittings may be stamped with the words Kitec, KTC or Taiwan (where most of them were made). If you suspect you may have Kitec, call a qualified plumber for a definitive identification.
Is all Kitec bad? I have a friend who had a high end home built in 2007 in the 9200 block of Homestead Ave. They later found out that their home was built with Kitec. They haven’t had any problems yet with the Kitec. Maybe they never will. The problem is, if they do, they could end up with a flood on their hands. This is one of those risk factor things. It may not cause any problems, but if it does, it will make for a very bad day.
What to do if you have Kitec If Kitec has become bad, with clogged fittings and pipe, all of the water supply piping and fittings must be replaced. This can usually be done by a qualified plumber in about 5 days or less, and the homeowner will not need to vacate the house. Of course, as you can imagine, this is quite expensive. If you are thinking about buying a house with Kitec, it would be wise to ask the seller to have the Kitec replaced. If the seller balks, walk away from the house. Also, note: sellers who have Kitec are not required to disclose it to potential buyers unless it is causing problems. However if you ask a seller if they have Kitec and they do, they are required to disclose it. Thus, this is another example of why it’s always a good idea to get a home inspection before buying a new home. If your home inspector finds Kitec before you buy, you’re in a much better position than if you don’t have this information. For folks who have Kitec, there is a Kitec class action settlement, which has created a $125 million settlement fund to pay for repairs. Even if your Kitec is working properly at the moment, you can still submit a claim. For more information, click here to visit the Kitec settlement website. --- Kim Christensen