Kitec is a type of plumbing line and connectors that were manufactured by a Canadian Company (IPEX) back in the 1990’s. This type of plumbing consists of a flexible tubing material with brass fitting connectors all routed through a manifold within the home which it is being installed. The manifold system is a nice idea as a homeowner can turn of just the bathroom sink, rather than the entire home, to repair a faucet. The low cost and ease of installation made it very popular in homes that were built in years ranging from 1995 – 2007 or so. It was mostly used in large sub-divisions across the U.S. but that does not mean its use was restricted to just large sub-divisions. So, when you are looking to purchase a home in this age range, you want to check to see if the home has this type of plumbing.
The problem was that these brass fittings allowed a chemical reaction to occur which causes them to fail and leak inside walls floors or wherever they were installed. This can cause water leakage and flooding in a home behind a wall that would go undetected for some time until major damage has occurred. Experts say that this is not IF it will happen but WHEN.
Here is what to look for if you suspect that you may have Kitec plumbing in your home. The suspect Kitec was manufactured in only two colors; blue for cold water and orange for hot water. If you have these color pipes or tubing the next thing to look for, on the tubing itself, is the markings “PEX” and the brass fittings will be stamped with “Kitec”.
If you are thinking about purchasing a home with this type of plumbing you may want to think twice about that home and what future repairs you may be looking at. Replacing this type of plumbing can be very expensive and time consuming, but then again a lot of homes go years without a problem. It is a gamble if the plumbing is not changed and if you are aware of the issue before your purchase, your insurance my not cover the expense. Here is where it gets tricky; if the type of plumbing were disclosed or discovered during the escrow and the transaction closed anyway, most likely the expense of repairs or replacement is not covered. If it went through and no one knew or noticed then you could be in line to join a class action lawsuit, but typically only the lawyers make money on those. In 2005 the state of Nevada reached a settlement with Kitec and a reserve fund was created in the amount of $125,000,000. This is where repairs would be funded but a failure of this type can costs thousands in just one home alone depending upon how long it went undetected.
What if you discover that you have Kitec plumbing in a home that you want to sell? The first thing to do is call a plumber and have him assess the situation. Replace any fittings or tubing that looks like it is having an issue. Now that you know you have Kitec plumbing, it must be disclosed to any potential buyer of your home. Then it would be up to the purchaser to complete the transaction with that knowledge.