Kitec Plumbing & What YOU Need To Know!

The type of plumbing in a house isn't usually top of mind when you're house hunting but maybe it should be from now on!
We're already on the lookout for things like knob & tube & aluminum wiring, UFFI, asbestos, mold, and now we can add Kitec plumbing to the list.

What is Kitec Plumbing? Kitec consists of flexible aluminium pipe between an inner and outer layer of plastic pipe (PEX pipe) with brass fittings. Marketed as a cheaper and easy-to-install alternative
to copper piping for potable water, in-floor, and hot-water baseboard heating systems.

For homes that were built or substantially renovated between 1995 & 2007 there's a chance that it could have this type of plumbing installed & we're starting to see it fail.

This isn't a new discovery, there are class action suits that have already been concluded over it but I don't think it's really in our mainstream consciousness yet like some of the other issues I listed above.

You know who's radar screen it IS on? The insurance companies'! Last year, on one of my listings, after it was sold firm, the Buyers's insurance company came back with questions regarding the plumbing & whether it was Kitec & that's when I first became aware of the issue. 

If you read my article on Home Insurance as part of my series on The True Costs Of Home Ownership then you might recall that when you speak to your insurance provider or broker regarding coverage on a re-sale home they will have a list of questions for you which will help them determine if the property is one that they are willing to insure and at what cost. For properties that they may deem high risk they could deny coverage outright, limit your coverage relating to something specific, or make certain stipulations a requirement of your policy...such as replacing certain components within a certain amount of time.

I spoke with my friend and insurance broker, Dayle Semple with Firstbrook, Cassie & Anderson and he says that at this time while most insurance companies will cover the cost of damage resulting from a burst pipe or rupture in your plumbing system, the replacement of the actual plumbing system would not be covered. If it is determined that all your plumbing needs to be replaced then that would be at your own cost. He also spoke about the fact that most insurance policies have exclusions for manufacturers' defects which may be applicable depending on how the loss occurs. Always check with YOUR insurance provider for the specifics of YOUR policy as not all insurance policies are created equally and as with so many things, you get what you pay for...

So what's all the fuss about?

When the Kitec system was first introduced it was all the rage because it was cheaper & easier to install than traditional copper pipe but in 2005 it was recalled because the pipes and fittings have a tendency to corrode quickly and can fail entirely, which can lead to flooding.

Why should you care? Or at least be aware?

It can affect the value of a home. If there is Kitec installed in a home but it hasn't failed yet, it will at some point. Therefore it will need to be replaced. The cost of replacing the plumbing can be significant and if a Buyer has to assume that cost then they are not going to pay the same amount for a home where they will incur that cost as for one where they will not have to.

If Kitec plumbing was replaced in a home then it's just a matter of disclosing that the work was done and providing proof that it was done by a licensed plumber. There should be no impact on the value of the home.

Who's responsible?

Just like every other facet of a Real Estate transaction, everyone plays a part, but our governing body (RECO) has recently sent a reminder out to ensure that all registrants are aware that this is considered a material fact and to act accordingly.

The Seller should be aware of what they are offering for sale. Disclosure of issues that could impact a Buyer's choice to purchase the home and at what price is crucial to protecting themselves.

The Listing Agent should be asking the right questions, know as much as possible about the product they are selling and be aware of potential issues, like Kitec plumbing, in order to protect themselves and their Selling clients. 

Buyers should be armed with as much knowledge as possible in order to make educated decisions and protect their own interests as much as possible.

Buyers Agents also should be asking the right questions and looking for red flag issues, like Kitec plumbing, in order to protect themselves and their Buying clients.

Home Inspectors, whether they work for the Buyers in a post-accepted offer capacity or for the Sellers doing a pre-listing inspection, should be on the lookout for this and notify their client.

Who pays to remedy it?

Well that depends...some have suggested that title insurance may cover the cost of replacing the plumbing as it could be considered a defect however it would depend on what individual policies state. More than likely it's going to be the average homeowner going out of pocket to remedy the situation and then trying to recoup some of the cost through the class action suit settlement by registering a claim. Unfortunately it will still be several years before any monies will be paid out....

Whether you're buying or selling, the more you know the better off you'll be. It can save you money, it can keep you out of court, it can provide peace of mind...you'll never be sorry that you did your due diligence on such an important transaction! I've provided the very broadest of strokes on this topic & I would always recommend speaking with a professional, in this case a plumber, when it comes to an issue such as this, but if you're interested in reading more, you can check out the links at the bottom of the page.

Have a fabulous day!





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