The Plumbing That Scares Insurers
An orange hose for hot water, a blue hose for cold water. This type of plumbing, which is no longer sold, hardly ever causes water damage. The problems are of a whole different order. And could cause you many worries with insurance…
The KITEC™ plumbing system first came onto the market in 1995. Installing these flexible pipes was easier and faster than installing copper pipes. They are made of two layers of plastic separated by a layer of aluminum.
KITEC™ has been installed in thousands of new homes and condominiums until 2007. It is found in many condominium buildings in the greater Montréal area. Complete streets of houses in the Bois-Franc district are equipped with it. These orange and blue pipes may also have ended up in home improvement projects.
Today Kitec™ has been supplanted by PEX™, a product from the same manufacturer, IPEX™. PEX™ is less expensive, just as flexible and easy to install. More importantly, it is not the subject of a class action lawsuit.
In parts of the United States, it has been observed that the brass fittings used to join Kitec™ pipes together would tend to corrode and weaken. Sudden leaks took place. This premature wear could be linked to the properties of the water in certain water systems. No case of sudden deterioration or breakage has been reported in Quebec..
However, a North American class action lawsuit has been brought against the manufacturer. In 2011, courts in the United States, Ontario and Quebec approved a settlement that provides for a fund of $125 million; Twenty-five million dollars will go to lawyers and $100 million to Canadian and American consumers.
In the context of a real estate transaction, the Kitec becomes a serious problem. Several insurers do not want to know anything about Kitec. However, cases of Kitec failure in Canada are very rare, if not non-existent. KITEC ™ is not a bad product in itself. The main problem, according to him, is the scarcity of fittings. As the product is no longer sold, only a few plumbers still have in stock the brass fittings that are needed when making modifications.
We have yet to see a case in Montréal where homeowners have had all KITEC™ plumbing removed, as is commonly done with galvanized steel or sometimes with Poly-B™.
Poly-B™ (polybutylene) is flexible plastic plumbing tubing commonly used in homes built between 1978 and 1995. Poly-B™ was popular with builders because it was much cheaper than copper tubing, and it has been installed in over 700,000 Canadian homes.
Poly-B™ piping was discontinued several years ago because over time the pipes began to burst and leak. As homes age, this type of plumbing becomes more and more of a problem, causing devastating effects on the homeowner.