For prospective and current homeowners, the word “Kitec” spells trouble. This brand of plumbing components, manufactured by Canadian company IPEX, was used in many residential construction projects starting in 1995. After roughly 12 years of widespread use, the manufacturer recalled and discontinued the product due to serious design flaws. Kitec products haven’t been installed in new buildings for years, but some houses and condos in both the United States and Canada are still equipped with them. How is Kitec different from conventional products? When it was first introduced to the market, the Kitec system was described as more resistant to corrosion than copper pipes. The components were made from a polyethylene composite and aluminum, with brass fittings holding parts together. The products gained popularity thanks to low cost and ease of installation. What went wrong? While the products displayed some design innovations, they could not handle the load reliably. As an alloy composed of zinc and copper, brass has unique strengths and weaknesses compared to either element alone. Exposure to pressurized hot water forced the zinc out of the brass, which destroyed the integrity of the fittings. For some of the affected homes, pipe leaks were just the beginning. These components can fail spectacularly, leading to interior flooding from a burst line. Homeowners throughout the US and Canada have reported damage stemming from faults in Kitec products. How do I know if I’m at risk? It’s sometimes possible to identify Kitec pipes due to their brightly color-coded water lines, orange for hot and blue for cold. This is not universal, though, so homeowners should seek the help of a professional plumber to examine their system and assess the risks. Residential building inspectors may also note the presence of Kitec and inform prospective buyers. I have Kitec in my home, what are my options? Homeowners are advised to replace immediately and completely Kitec components, even if there hasn’t been a problem yet. A class action lawsuit was filed against the company, resulting in a settlement to compensate those who need to pay for repairs, replacements and other costs associated with the faulty products. The deadline for filing a claim under the class action is January 9, 2020. Are you concerned you may have Kitec plumbing in your home or place of business? Contact a plumber to have your pipes inspected as soon as possible.
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