Today, we’re going to wrap up our 3-part series detailing the water systems in your home. In this last installment, we’re going to talk about the dreaded Kitec piping. Responsible for millions of dollars in damages, it was recalled in 2005 due to it’s extremely high failure rate. Subsequently, there was a $125 million class action lawsuit taken out in an attempt to recoup some of the costs incurred by unlucky homeowners!
Kitec piping was first introduced in 1995 and was used in many new homes and condominiums, as well as in smaller repairs within the home. Identified by its bright orange or blue coloration, it has been found to be extremely prone to failure, not only with small leaks, but fully bursting as well!
There are two major ways that Kitec piping can fail; from the fittings used to attach the piping together, or even from the pipe itself!
Kitec fittings are made of brass – a combination of copper and zinc. Acidic water has led to the zinc component of the fittings going through a process call “dezincification”. In this process, the zinc quite literally turns to powder! As you can imagine, a fitting that is supposed to hold pipe together turning to dust is not a good thing and has led to major damage.
The second issue is the pipe itself. Looking at a cross-section of Kitec pipe, there is a thin layer of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of plastic. When the aluminum comes into contact with the zinc, a buildup occurs causing the pipe to burst. It appears that even when there is not enough dezincification to cause the fitting to fail, the chemical reaction between the aluminum and the pipe is enough to cause irreparable damage.
Unfortunately, it sounds as if its not a question of “if” the piping will fail, but a question of “when”. To rectify the situation, the only solution is often full pipe replacement – a costly endeavor. Depending on the size/layout of the home, this can cost from $2000-$10,000 or even more for a large home! While it is definitely a large cost, it is often something to consider – many insurance companies will not cover any damages incurred as a result of a flood due to Kitec failure. Take a look at your insurance policies and make sure you’re covered!
That wraps up our mini series on the different types of water pipes within the home. I hope you all enjoyed it and feel like you have learned something! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you next time.