Kitec Plumbing Replacement
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Over the last 10-15 years when many green homes were built in the Seattle area, residences were plumbed with hydronic forced-air systems for heating. For example, you can find this type of heating in the beautiful neighborhood of Issaquah Highlands plus many other modern homes in Seattle, Everett and the Eastside. Hydronic heating is a great idea, however homeowners have discovered some disturbing news about some of the piping that was used to plumb the heating systems. (Not systems done by Washington Energy!) The product is called Kitec, and it brings an alarming issue.
Kitec consists of flexible aluminum pipe sandwiched between an inner and outer layer of plastic pipe (polyethylene or PEX pipe). Kitec pipe generally comes in two colors: orange (for hot water use) and blue (for cold water use). Kitec pipes were manufactured by IPEX USA LLC and have been used in homes across many western states, i.e., Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, California and Washington.
The main issue has been the specific brass fittings used as connectors with this pipe, and their impact on the whole hydronic system. Kitec pipe and fittings fail due to a chemical reaction known as dezincification, which results in reduced water flow and leaks. The fittings have a high concentration of lead in the brass formulation. This reacts with water over time. Dezincification occurs and a powdery white corrosion builds up in the fitting, restricting the water flow. Next comes the failure, either at the site of the connectors, or at another point in the line impacted by the restricted flow, increased pressure, or both. In both tests and in real homes, the compromised pipes and fittings have frequently caused damage from bursting and/or leaking. As these pipes are run through the walls, damage can be especially severe and unnoticed until it’s too late. If this was the kind of disaster that manifested in 30 or 40 years within a home, it would not generate these lawsuits. This plumbing can fail very quickly.
Large scale failures of Kitec piping prompted the filing of thousands of defective plumbing lawsuits, including many in Canada and a class action lawsuit initiated in Nevada in 2006 that settled for $90 million. Several lawsuits have now been filed in Washington State. There is plenty of Kitec information online including Plumbing Inspectors Journal.
View the Kitec class action lawsuit.
Based on the research, it is recommended that the only reliable way to repair and eradicate the risk inherent with the defective Kitec plumbing system is to re-pipe the lines in the house. This is an extensive re-piping in your house but can save you in the long run.
We want to support homeowners to avoid a Kitec disaster. Washington Energy is now offering excellent pricing on Kitec replacement and group pricing discounts for condos, townhome complexes or homeowner associations. Our licensed and bonded plumbers are experienced in this specific issue.
Here are some photos of the Kitec replacement work done at the Home of Maria Cole, Issaquah Highlands.
Kitec piping is visible in garage but actually runs through the entire house since it is the source of hydronic heating.
Plumber removing Kitec.
Maria’s walls and ceiling will require drywall repair and repainting however this is significantly less damaging than what she could face from the Kitec pipes bursting.
New piping is in, and the heating system is safely back to work.