Kitec Pipe, beyond the hype. Should I buy or should I run?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with TPR Properties DRE# 01842738

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?

  1. Free Quotes from ABC's Plumbing, XYZ's Plumbing and every other plumber looking to take advantage of the Kitec Pipe Hype. 
  2. Kitec Brass fittings explode while you are not home and flood your house
  3. There is a HUGE class action settlement against Kitec
  4. 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.)  
  5. 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.

  1. 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.  
  2. 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 and 2) the number one sign an issue is occurring is the loss of water pressure (there are other signs).
  3. Yes.  There are multiple class action settlements.  $125,000,000 seems to be the largest number reported. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Comments (3)

Ken Patterson
TPR Properties - Rocklin, CA
Roseville Real Estate, TOP Rocklin Realtor

Received a msg in response to this post regarding my statement about plumbers having to make a living.  The messenger wanted to advise me that REALTORS trying to sell houses have a much bigger reason in which to "poo-poo" issues with Kitec pipe.  I'll infer he means REALTORS want a commission at any cost which would be a direct vialoation of our agency agreement with the client as well as the code of ethics REALTORS must abide by.

Well, REALTORS due need to make a living too.  I agree.  My article does not "poo-poo" the fact that Kitec pipe has issues though.  It points to actual information versus regurgitated statements from people that simply read one or two BLOG posts.  Kitec does have issues obviously.  However, there is no evidence suggesting ALL Kitec pipe has issues and/ or will fail.  In fact, the data suggests the failures are actually limited.  It would be like saying all Ford vehicles are horrible because they had a recall on 500,000 airbags.  Though the issue is large and unfortunate, it does not make all Ford vehicles bad.  It also does not mean all Ford vehicles need the airbags replaced.  

Lastly, almost all of the Kitec pipe that exists in homes in our area 12-20 years old which is beyond the generally stated failure time window of 4-7 years.  

I could not respond directly to the message sent within the ACTIVERAIN.  So, I thought I'd post a quick comment.  Thanks and I hope the BLOG has been helpful to anyone considering buying or selling a home with Kitec as well as the REALTORS involved.  

Apr 13, 2018 11:06 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

You’ve made this decision very easy for a lot of us! Thanks for posting, Ken!

Nov 07, 2019 09:04 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

It’s totally cool that you’re willing to business open about how to go about these crucial steps in the business, Ken Patterson

Nov 07, 2019 09:05 PM