And when pipes fail, it's not that they just stop working and the water stops flowing. The opposite is true: you have water in your home. Have those pipes burst while you're away, and you have the potential for mold as well.
The Kitec plumbing system consists of flexible aluminum pipe sandwiched between an inner, and an outer layer of PEX plastic pipe. Such reinforced piping was considered an improvement over the flexible pvc piping that has been a common feature of new home construction over the last twenty years.
However, reality is anything but, as the Kitec piping is subject to a process called dezincification, which is a chemical reaction triggered from exposure to-wait for it—water.
The problem appears not to be with the piping itself, but the all-important fittings that join two pieces of pipe together. These fittings are subject to the dezincification process, which is a form of corrosion. The fittings break down, and corrosion constricts water flow, sometimes severely. Multiply this event by several dozen fittings found in a typical dwelling, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Failed fittings result in restricted water flow, cause leaks and other problems that can stem from water restriction. Appliances such as washers, dishwashers and plumbed refrigerators that dispense water and ice cubes can be negatively impacted. Severely restricted water flow in one area, can result in a build-up of pressure in another, providing the catalyst for a burst pipe and the catastrophe to contents as a result.
Depending on location, replacing a burst pipe can be costly, and replumbing an entire house runs in the thousands and thousands—and thousands of dollars. The latter is a nightmare, as walls, floors and ceilings have to be breached, then repaired and painted. Replacement of the fittings alone is, in itself, a major undertaking. To gain access to the fittings, the home's infrastructure will need to be breached in much the same fashion.
Kitec piping comes in two colors—orange, for hot water transference and blue, for cold. The Kitec system is manufactured by IPEX USA LLC and was introduced about 15 years ago. All types of housing, including high-end homes and dwellings of distinctive pedigree, could have the Kitec system.
A lawsuit was filed in Clark County Nevada on February 15th 2006, and was certified as a class action on October 16th of that year. It is estimated that upwards of 50,000 homes in Clark County carry the Kitec pipe with the defective fittings.
Lawyers leading the class action are hoping to achieve a settlement whereby homeowners will not be dinged out-of-pocket for repairs or upgrades necessary, resulting from the defective Kitec fittings.
READ MORE LEGAL NEWSHistorically, homes were plumbed with copper pipes. However, as building costs rise, builders are always looking for efficiencies. Along came white pvc plastic pipe, and then later flexible pvc piping. The lower cost and ease of installation proved a boon for builders. However, home inspectors have been turning up their noses at any home equipped with flexible pvc pipe, suggesting to startled homeowners that the piping was a disaster in the making. "They don't use this stuff anymore, and that's why..."
The Kitec pipe system was supposed to have represented an improvement on that front. The reinforced pipe itself is not the issue, but rather the brass fittings that connect them. In the end, it doesn't matter how good your pipe is, a leak-free plumbing system is only as good as the fittings, which hold it all together.
Ironically, there are 100-year-old houses out there with copper plumbing still providing good service...