Imagine the cost when you consider that the only way to properly eradicate the problem is to re-plumb the entire house.
As indoor plumbing has evolved from increasingly expensive copper pipe, less-expensive alternatives have been sought. Rigid PVC pipe was one, bit it was mostly used in recreational properties. Grey, flexible PVC was the next standard used in high-end, and standard-issue homes alike. But it has proven to be unreliable, and home inspectors don't think too much of it.
Along comes Kitec, which consists of plastic-coated aluminum piping joined to brass fittings.
The fittings are the problem here. They are prone to dezincification, a process whereby zinc leaches from the brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) and contributes a white, powdery buildup on the inside of the fitting. This buildup can weaken the fitting, restrict water flow and, in the worst-case scenario, cause the fitting to leak, or fail completely.
To determine if you have Kitec piping in your home, look for piping with different colors. Generally, Kitec PEX pipe is color-coded blue for cold water lines, and orange for hot water. A quick look underneath sinks, or down in the basement at the water lines weaving along the floor joists should give you an idea of whether, or not you have the Kitec system, which has been used extensively over the last ten or 15 years.
Something else to look for is the presence of a yellow or neon sticker on, or inside the electrical box of your home, indicating the presence of Kitec PEX pipe. This sticker is an alert to electricians that non-metallic pipe has been used to plumb the home, and therefore the pipe should not be used as a source for ground.
Currently, a class-action lawsuit is underway in an effort to save homeowners the expense of repairs.
And those repairs can be expensive. It is recommended that the only reliable way to repair, and eradicate the risk inherent with the Kitec system is to re-plumb both hot, and cold water lines for the entire house. This could take upwards of five days to do for a qualified plumber. Factor in the materials, and the mess of having to breach and repair walls and ceilings, and the bill will be more than most would have the ability to pay.
Try to put that through insurance, and not only will you be looking at a sizeable deductible, but your rates are going to be higher.
READ MORE LEGAL NEWSOf course, the potential for a catastrophic pipe burst does not address the potential for a slow leak from a fitting that could be hidden under a ceiling or behind a wall—a leak which in the long-term could result in a complete failure of the fitting: a gusher, in other words, filling up your basement and ruining your belongings.
In the short-term however, a fitting that allows even a trickle of water into a wall cavity or other unseen area could introduce mold into the home. The latter is not only a health hazard; it can add thousands of dollars to the repair of your home in order to eradicate the mold from wood, drywall and the very air you breathe.
In other words, you may have avoided catastrophe so far. But the fuse in the form of a small drip behind a wall may have already been lit.
Your failing Kitec fittings can, in fact, be making you and your loved ones ill right this very moment, as you read this, and you'd never know.
Know what's in your home. If it's a disaster waiting to happen, spring to action yourself, before your pipes do....