Whether you are an existing homeowner or someone looking to purchase a property, you may not have heard of “Kitec” piping, which is a product sold and used in construction between 1995 and 2007. It was used in new home construction and in renovations of some existing homes, as a piping system for carrying water throughout the house, and for supplying water to radiant heating systems for both the home itself and for flooring and heated towel racks. The outside is prominently stamped with “Kitec” and is made of plastic (cross-lined polyethylene or PEX), while the inside is lined with aluminum. The pipe is usually orange in colour, but in some cases may be blue, gray or white.

So what’s the issue?

Some homes that contain Kitec have reportedly been riddled with problems; mainly, the deterioration of the fittings, as well as the disintegration of the pipes themselves in some cases.

The Kitec Stigma

The result of these problems, and the ensuing frenzy of litigation, is that in the resale market there is a stigma affecting those homes containing Kitec pipes – similar to the stigma which affected those homes containing U.F.F.I. in the 1970s and 1980s. That stigma continues to date, which the reason for the U.F.F.I. clause in all Agreements of Purchase and Sale.

To amplify the problem, some insurance companies are now refusing to provide insurance for those properties containing Kitec based on the insurer’s liability risk assessments. Many financial institutions now require confirmation that the property does not contain Kitec. This makes these properties even less attractive to potential Buyers.

The issue is not confined to single-family homes that may have Kitec installed. The problem also affects many Condominium buildings that also contained or still contain Kitec. These Condominiums now face or have faced major expense and inconvenience to have it removed and replaced. The financial costs or remediating this problem has resulted in many Condominiums requiring Special Assessments levied against the owners to fund the removal of the Kitec and installation of proper piping.

Helpful Tips

Here are some helpful tips on what to do if you own, or suspect you own, a property with Kitec installed:

  1. How do I find out if my home has Kitec pipes? If you have a home with radian heating and a water-heating system that was installed between 1995 and 2007, it is worthwhile to have a qualified plumber come in to do an inspection to determine whether Kitec was used in the installation, and if so, whether there has been any deterioration or damage.
  2. What if I do decide to sell my home? If your home contains Kitec and you decide to sell without replacing it first, then here is what you should know:
    • The existence of the Kitec should be disclosed, either on a Seller Property Information Sheet or merely as part of the general disclosure obligation on the part of Sellers that extends to any potential Buyers
    • While it may be tempting to keep quiet and rely on the concept of “buyer beware”, the decision to provide up-front disclosure can provide the following legal advantages:
      • It prevents the successful Buyer from coming back to assert a legal claim for damages against you, should the previously undiscovered Kitec come to light post-closing, after costly repairs or replacement are needed.
      • It eliminates any accusation against you that you have fraudulently misrepresented the condition of the property or have actively concealed the presence of Kitec; such allegations can be actionable in law and can result in costly litigation.
      • If you decide not to replace the Kitec before listing your home for sale, it may nonetheless be worthwhile to hav a reliable quote for its replacement handy. This way you can use the information as a “bargaining chip” in the price negotiations with the Buyer, when it undoubtedly comes up in response to your disclosure, or on his or her own initiative.

Even if you are briefly tempted not to disclose the existence of Kitec, any prudent potential Buyer will probably hire a home inspector, who is likely to point out its presence.

This will put you back to where you started, in terms of having to replace or account for the cost of replacing the Kitec in your home, with the added element of potential mistrust on the Buyer’s part.