Between 1995 to 2007, Kitec plumbing was widely used in Canada. Chances are that Kitec can be found in houses built or extensively renovated during this time. It was sold for drinkable water pipes, as well as in-floor and hot-water baseboard systems. We stumbled upon Kitec twice when looking to buy both townhouses and condos. That is why we want to make sure our buyers know to avoid Kitec plumbing, or at least are aware of the potential risks and hidden costs. Having proper legal advice is key.
Kitec was recalled in 2005 due to defective brass connection fittings on this type of piping, causing leaks and damages to property. Corrosion or a white deposit on the fittings creates pipe blockages, which can cause the pipes to burst. This can lead to flooding and massive damage repair costs. It may also be a problem for getting insurance (or increase your premiums).
How can you check?
There were about 10 different brands names used as “Kitec”: PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée. If there are visible fittings, look for the Kitec or KTC stamp. You can find Kitec systems where the pipes and/or fittings exit the wall. This is often near the hot water tank or in the mechanical room. Also, look under kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities. The terms CSA B137.9/10 or ATSM F1974 could also indicate that you have a Kitec system.
So what’s the problem? These pipes have been known to burst. The anticipated costs to replace Kitec plumbing ranges from $5,000 to $6,500 for one-bedroom units to $8,000 to $10,500 for two-bedroom and larger suites. The prices include only replacing the plumbing and drywall. Removing kitchen or bathroom tiles to access the pipes may incur extra cost.
Buyers should beware that this is considered an owner’s expense and cannot be charged to the condominium reserve fund. The seller must always disclose to the buyer if they have Kitec plumbing. Ask your agent to check before you sign an offer to purchase or put in a condition of inspection if you are not sure.
Hidden costs can also be incurred down the line if the condo board decides based on engineers recommendations to replace all the Kitec plumbing in the common areas of the building. This can be very expensive and could result in a special assessment of unit owners or a maintenance fee increase. The property manager of each building is obligated to tell you if they know about Kitec in the building and if plans are in the works to fix this situation.
So Buyers Be Aware as Kitec can be a “hidden” problem in your condo or house purchase.