Words such as asbestos, mold, knob-and-tube wiring, and urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (aka UFFI) strike fear into the hearts – and wallets – of homeowners and would-be homebuyers. It looks like there’s another scary term to add to the list: Kitec plumbing.
Kitec is a flexible blend of polyurethane and aluminum piping that was used in homes and condos across North America for waterline supply lines and radiant heating systems between 1995 and 2007. It was supposed to be a corrosion resistant alternative to copper plumbing but, ironically, it was recalled after it was discovered that it was corroding at an accelerated rate.
When it did breakdown it could leak or, worse, burst, as many flooded out homeowners in the United States discovered.
How to Tell If You Have Kitech Plumbing
If you have a home or condo built during the 1995 to 2007 timeframe, the easiest place to check for Kitec is at your hot water tank or boiler. Most often, Kitec plumbing is bright orange (for hot water pipes) and bright blue (cold water), but it was also sold in red, grey, and black. Compounding the difficulty in identifying it is the fact that the product was sold under a number of different names including Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, and AmbioComfort. You may be able to find brass fittings that connect the pipes with the word Kitec of the letters KT embossed on the metal. There are a number of reference photos to help with identification on the class-action lawsuit settlement website (more on that in a moment).
And, depending on where your Toronto real estate is, you may especially be at risk. “There was a big condo boom in Liberty Village [in west end Toronto] when this material was being used,” says Zoocasa agent Jim Roberts. “Pretty much every townhouse [in the area] has it.”
What To Do if You Have It
Failure seems to be inevitable so it’s recommended that if you do have this type of plumbing in your home you should have it replaced. (Similar to knob-and-tube wiring, some insurance companies will not provide coverage for homes with Kitec plumbing.)
The manufacturer, IPEX, settled three class-action lawsuits by creating a US$125-million compensation fund for homeowners who suffered a plumbing leak. Owners have until Jan. 9, 2020 to file a claim.
They’ve also advised owners to file a claim for the cost of replacing the pipes even if you haven’t had a leak, but warn that you’ll only be eligible for compensation if there’s any money left after all the claims for damages have been processed.
Invest in a Fix
“It’s not the end of the world,” says Roberts. Last fall he had clients who realized they had Kitec when they decided to sell their townhouse. “We decided to tell people about it and tell [would-be buyers] that the owners were going to fix it before closing.”
They found a company, Ki-Fix that specializes in removing and repairing Kitec plumbing. They replace the pipes and repaired and repainted the drywall in the 800-sq.ft. townhouse for $5,000.