Kitec consists of flexible aluminum pipe between an inner and outer layer of plastic pipe (PEX pipe) with brass fittings. Kitec piping was originally installed because it was believed to be a cheaper and more efficient alternative to copper piping. It was commonly used in constructing houses and condos in Ontario between 1995 and 2007.
The Problem with Kitec Plumbing
The brass fittings that connect Kitec piping contain high amounts of zinc that corrodes and weakens over time in a process called dezincification. This in turn could either restrict water pressure or cause the fittings to fail completely, resulting in leaks and water damage.
The Kitec Lawsuit
In 2011, a class action law suit was set in motion against IPEX Inc., the manufacturer of Kitec alleging that the Kitec System “may be subject to premature failure and otherwise may not perform in accordance with the reasonable expectation of users.” A settlement was reached and a $125 million fund is in place to provide compensation for those with Kitec failures. Registration from home owners and Condo Corporations will be accepted until 2020.
How Common is Kitec Plumbing in Toronto?
It is common to hear about Toronto houses and condos that have discovered the presence of Kitec plumbing. Keep in mind that not all Kitec plumbing has failed, there has been some flooding reported and some condos have encountered issues with getting insurance. The class action website is not recommending replacing the pipe where there are no issues.
Some condo buildings need to replace the piping because of on-going issues, some have planned to have the entire building updated to eliminate all risk, and others are monitoring closely. For those who are replacing it, the repair bills can be significant depending on size and severity – generally speaking a house is estimated at $10,000-$20,000 and a condo unit anywhere from $5,000-$12,000.
Two ways Toronto Condo Corporations have been dealing with Kitec plumbing:
1. The Condo Corporation is managing the replacement of Kitec (and the owners are subsequently paying for the installation directly or via special assessment).
2. Individual unit owners are repairing and paying for the replacement of the plumbing themselves.
Buyer (and Seller) Beware
As the seller: be prepared to disclose that you have Kitec plumbing. Not disclosing Kitec can lead to a legal issue between you and your buyer, whether a leak occurs or not. The Real Estate Council of Ontario does consider the existence of Kitec plumbing in a home as a material fact that must be disclosed by the Seller to the Buyer.
As the buyer:
- Ask if it has Kitec plumbing (or has ever had Kitec plumbing) – as part of their due diligence your real estate agent should ask for you. As a buyer, finding out you have it after you’ve closed the deal is devastating. It can affect your property’s value as a defect.
- Confirm with your insurer as it may be difficult to get insurance on a property that has Kitec plumbing.
- Bring in a home inspector before purchasing the home to verify if Kitec plumbing is present.
- Have your lawyer review the Status Certificate (a standard part of a condo purchase) as the Condo Corporation will likely disclose the presence of Kitec plumbing.
How To Know If You Have Kitec Plumbing
One of the best places to look for the Kitec system is near the hot water tank or the boiler. The Kitec pipe is typically blue in color for cold water applications and orange in color for hot water applications.
According to Carson Dunlop, you can also look under kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities. Brass fittings may be labelled Kitec or KT and there are multiple brand names for piping: Kitec, Plumbetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée. There may be a notice on the electrical panel stating that Kitec exists in the home, warning electricians not to ground the electrical system to it.
What To Do If You Have Kitec Plumbing
- Register with the class action website, www.kitecsettlement.com and file a claim as a precautionary measure. You have until 2020 to register.
- Watch for white corrosion on brass fittings and black spots or blisters on the pipe.
- Contact a plumber if you notice any discolouration or a drop in water pressure.
Source: Carson Dunlop