Diagram of plumbing in two story house

Kitec Replacement

What is Kitec plumbing?

Kitec piping is a brand of water piping composed of aluminum pipe wrapped with an inner and outer layer of plastic polymer with brass fittings. Kitec was installed in homes between 1995 and 2007. At the time, it was touted as a cheaper alternative to copper piping that was supposed to be resistant to corrosion. It was used for potable water supplies, as well as hydronic heating systems in floors and baseboards. The size of the piping necessitated special fittings from the manufacturer, IPEX.

Here's where the problems with Kitec started. Not only was Kitec not corrosion resistant, the fittings were made with brass with a high amount of zinc. These fittings had so much zinc that they were prone to go through a process called dezincification, where the zinc is removed from the brass alloy, leaving the fittings weak and primed for structural failure.

The failure rate of Kitec was so high, it was recalled in 2005, and it is no longer manufactured. When Kitec fails, the structural collapse of the piping and fittings is extreme, and the pipes completely burst, especially on the hot water piping. This left many homes flooded and affected by water damage. The manufacturer agreed to pay $125 million dollars for class action lawsuits in the United States and Canada.

Kitec often ruptures on the hot water pipes, as it was designed to handle water as hot as 180 °F. However, many hot water heaters can go to a higher temperature than this. The water goes through the Kitec pipes, and causes a pipe burst, as the max piping temperature is exceeded.

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How do You Know if You Have Kitec Pipes?

Most Kitec piping was bright orange or bright blue, for hot and cold water piping respectively. The piping also came in other colors such as black, gray, red, and blue. There were several brand names for this piping besides Kitec, including PlumbBetter, PEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, and KERR Con-trols.

Fittings or piping is often stamped with “Kitec” or “KTC”. The piping near the hot water tank, or near the sink in the kitchen or bathroom will usually have these words stamped on it.

What Should You Do If You Still Have Kitec Piping?

You should call a licensed repiping contractor to replace the pipes and fittings in your home with copper pipes, or in some cases, PEX piping. Kitec began failing in large numbers around 2005, meaning most of the failures began about ten years after the homes were built. Kitec was installed in homes until 2007, so there are many homes that may still have this piping installed. It is anticipated that Kitec piping and fittings will eventually reach a failure rate of 100%, as the defects are universal. If you have Kitec pipes, you can prevent potential flooding and water damage by having your piping system replaced ASAP.

More Details on the Kitec Lawsuits

The Kitec failures included some common characteristics:

  • Poor water pressure, clogged pipes due to mineral buildup, and chronic leaks.
  • Piping failure did not result in mere leaks, but full-on pipe bursting, causing flooding.
  • Heat and hot water causes Kitec piping to fail, as many spontaneous burst were on hot water piping.
  • Dezincification of fittings causing blockages in piping, resulting in breakage.

Waiting on replacing Kitec piping, unfortunately, is not a viable option. The failure rate is high enough to make the question, not if, but when, the piping will structurally fail.

How long does the repiping preocess take? The repiping process takes only a few days, and is done while you remain in your home, doing your normal routine.

What areas in Sacramento had Kitec installed? Homes that were built between 1995 and 2007 in the following areas may have been affected: Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Rocklin, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta, Natomas, Lincoln and other cites in the seven county area (Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yuba, and Nevada counties).

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The team at Wise Monkey Repipe & Construction can help you through the process of replacing the old pipes in your home.

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