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I know, a blog about plumbing seems like a super boring subject, but Kitec plumbing is a big deal if you’re considering buying or selling a condo, townhouse or house built between 1995-2007.
What is Kitec Plumbing?
Kitec is a kind of plastic piping (for moving hot and cold water) that was commonly used in constructing condos, townhouses and houses in Ontario between 1995 and 2007.
The Problem with Kitec Plumbing
Many homes with Kitec plumbing have encountered piping failures, resulting in leaks and water damage or clogging and poor water pressure. It’s believed to be caused by the fittings that contain high levels of zinc, that corrodes and weakens over time.
We’re regularly hearing about Toronto condos and townhouses that are discovering the presence of Kitec plumbing. While not all Kitec plumbing has failed, there has been some flooding reported and some condos have encountered issues with getting insurance. Some condo buildings are being forced to replace the piping because of ongoing issues, some are replacing it proactively, while others are taking the ‘wait and see’ approach. For those who are replacing it, the repair bills aren’t insignificant – anywhere from $5,000-$12,000 per unit. And unfortunately, those costs are being borne by the individual owners.
Toronto condo corporations have been dealing with Kitec plumbing in two ways:
- Individual unit owners are repairing and paying for the replacement of the plumbing themselves.
- The Condo Corporation is managing the replacement of Kitec (and the owners are subsequently paying for the installation directly or via special assessment).
The ‘wait and see’ approach, while affordable in the short-term, is also resulting in nervous Buyers and lower selling prices.
The Kitec Lawsuit
In 2011, a class action lawsuit was launched against IPEX Inc, the manufacturer of Kitec alleging that “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 there is a $125 million fund to provide compensation for those encountering flooding because of Kitec plumbing. Homeowners and condo corporations have until 2020 to register to be part of the lawsuit.
If you’re looking at purchasing a condo, townhouse or house built between 1995 and 2007, it is imperative that you:
- Ask if it has Kitec plumbing (or has ever had Kitec plumbing) – your real estate agent should ask for you as part of their due diligence
- Look at the plumbing fittings (they may say Kitec or KT). According to Carson Dunlop, you should look:
- Near the hot water tank or near the boiler
- Under kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities
- There may be a notice on the electrical panel stating that Kitec was used in the home, warning electricians not to ground the electrical system to it.
- It may be difficult to get insurance on a property that has Kitec plumbing – make sure to check with your insurer
- Before purchasing the home, consider bringing in a home inspector to verify if Kitec plumbing is present
- While we commonly use the word ‘Kitec’ to refer to this problematic plumbing, it was actually sold under the following brand names: Kitec, Plumbetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée
Note: 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.
What To Do If You Have Kitec Plumbing
- Register with the class action website – www.kitecsettlement.com and file a claim as a precaution. Registrations will be accepted until 2020.
- 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.
- If you sell your home, be prepared to disclose that you have Kitec plumbing.
- The lawsuit website does not recommend replacing the piping where there are no issues
See? Not nearly as boring as you thought it was going to be.
Is all plumbetter plumbing involved in this recall? We have the white plastic lines with no metal lining but it does say plumbetter. Most of the plumbers we’ve spoken to don’t know enough about it to confirm for us.