Warning - This BLOG will not contain pretty pictures or be aesthetically pleasing.
Kitec Pipe, beyond the hype
What have you read on the front page of your "Kitec Pipe" Google search?
- Free Quotes from ABC's Plumbing, XYZ's Plumbing and every other plumber looking to take advantage of the Kitec Pipe Hype.
- Kitec Brass fittings explode while you are not home and flood your house
- There is a HUGE class action settlement against Kitec
- It is not if, but when the pipes will fail - (See this famous example found on website of commercial organization that profits from alarming people.)
- Las Vegas had big pipe issues starting with Del Webb homes
Let's start with these first 5 results and respond with a little additional information that most seem to miss when crafting their articles.
- Plumbers need to make a living. So, it is expected they would advertise themselves as the solution for your Kitec pipe problem even before you know if you have a problem. Some homes have a problem. Some do not.
- The Kitec brass fitting issue is largely found in the Las Vegas area. Why? Did you read that the water and soil in the Las Vegas area cause what is known as "Galvanic Action" in copper pipes? Pipe/ fitting metals reacted to the minerals found in the water/ soil and was causing issues in the 80's with copper pipes, which ultimately led to the use of Kitec pipes. That same water caused an issue with the Kitec "brass fittings" as it reacted with the Zinc used in making the brass. This issue is referred to as "dezincification" where the zinc leaches out of the fitting and clogs it. TWO HUGE ITEMS OF NOTE FOUND IN THE RESEARCH that seem only to be discussed in passing are 1) the corrosion usually happens "quickly" according to the International Assoc of Certified Home Inspectors https://www.nachi.org/kitec-fittings.htm and 2) the number one sign an issue is occurring is the loss of water pressure (there are other signs).
- Yes. There are multiple class action settlements. $125,000,000 seems to be the largest number reported. http://www.kitecsettlement.com/faq.cfm The City of Lincoln CA states "Thousands of homes" were built with Kitec pipes. Other sites state a minimum of 60,000 home owners in Nevada and New Mexico have Kitec. That is a really low estimate and is derived from the homes associated in the law suites. In addition to those, thousands more homes throughout the West and the entire USA were built with Kitec pipe during the housing boom years (1995-2006). If you do the math, that is not really a HUGE settlement ($125M divided by 60K is just over $2k per home).
- This ridiculous statement by a Sacramento Law firm that actually says "statistical information suggests" this conclusion. But, the article has ZERO statistical data or links to data or references to data to support the statement. In fact, there are thousands of homes with Kitec pipes doing well. Some of these homes are as many as 2 decades old with no issues. Additionally, the Beede Law firm is not shown by the Sec of State to be a licensed plumbing contractor. Furthermore, the firm stands to gain financially by encouraging alarm-ism which potentially results in legal consultation fees. So many people in the Sacramento area have regurgitated that statement without doing any further research - that is stunning.
- See number 2.
So what is the answer? Is the hype more than hype? In my view, the hype is DEFINITELY hype. Why? While there are homes and areas of the country with significant issues as evidenced by the class action settlements, there are an astounding number of homes with Kitec Pipe. Many thousands of these are unaffected homes with no issues. Actual production numbers and failure data is not present in just about every article. Ours is actuall not much f=different in that regard because data is truly difficult to uncover. However, we have taken steps to attempt to get some local data and will update this BLOG if/ when we receive stats from local building departments.
Should I buy or run? That answer ultimately can only be answered on a home by home basis. If the seller disclosures say there have been no issues and upon inspection no issues can be found, it would stand to reason the home is currently problem free. If the article from the International Association of Home Inspectors is accurate about corrosion happening "quickly", then homes with no current or past issues that are several years or even decades old don't seem to fit the "Not if, but when" failure scenario that Beede Law has so eloquently stated.
Bottom line, look at the home for what it is versus the hype found on Google's first page results.