Scary stuff. Well, not really. A highly publicized lawsuit settled in 2012 put a big black mark on that bright orange plumbing. On a regular basis, I hear people talking about the product and the stigma surrounding it. So I decided to call a reputable plumber to ask his opinion of the pipe and what the drawbacks are. I am not a plumber and do not claim to be a professional in the field! All information below is a regurgitation of the notes I took from our conversation.
There are drawbacks
This blog is not to claim the product does not have its failures. My plumbing contact stated that failures occurred in systems operating at high temperatures between 180 and 200 degrees. This is limited to hot water baseboard systems in homes. Both in floor heat and domestic uses for showers etc operate at temperatures between 100 and 140 degrees. According to the plumber I spoke to, the level of failure in these systems is no different than any other plumbing product. Therefore, the potential drawbacks in these systems are almost non-existent by comparison. Any plumbing can fail and all plumbing inspections should be completed by a professional to ensure the condition of the system is adequate.
Other causes for failure
Our plumber said that well water with a higher mineral content will have an adverse effect on plumbing systems. This does not only apply to Kitec pipes, but to a variety of different products. It is important that you have a water treatment system that will protect the components of your home.
Signs of failure
Because heat is highest at the source near the boiler, this is where you will likely see the first signs of failure. High heat operation causes the joints to separate and in turn, the pipes to split. In this case, you might see black discolouration on the pipe. You might also notice a white residue where fittings have degraded due to poor water quality. In floor heat systems installed correctly should have no joints or fittings throughout the entire floor except at the source. In this case, signs should be fairly easy to spot.
Will this affect my value?
If you have a baseboard system, I would unfortunately say that yes it will. You may be asked to change the plumbing or install heat pumps instead. If not, the buyer is taking on a higher level of risk and they would likely want to be compensated for that risk. In the event neither of these situations occur, your pool of buyers will shrink because less people are willing to take on said risk. Fewer buyers willing to consider a home with Kitec plumbing means the home will have to be priced more competitively. If you have an in floor system, it is important that your Realtor is armed with knowledge to protect your asset. Just because it has Kitec doesn’t mean it is a problem. A report from a reputable plumber stating the condition of the plumbing would be a good way to put buyers at ease.
Myth: I cannot obtain insurance on a house with Kitec plumbing
Completely false. I called two insurance companies this morning to see if there were any restrictions on the product. TD insurance has no restrictions. RBC insurance said they would insure the product but may request an inspection report prior to doing so. Regardless, I would make sure your insurance company makes note of the Kitec in your policy to ensure coverage.
Should I buy a house with Kitec Plumbing?
After my conversation with our professional plumber, I would say it depends completely on the application of the system. Lower heat systems carry the same risk as other products so I would be comfortable in those situations. However, regardless of the plumbing system I ALWAYS recommend you get it properly inspected so you can make an educated decision – any plumbing can fail. Also, you may have to deal with buyers who are opposed to Kitec because of the fear created by the media and the lawsuit. But, if they have all the information above and have carried out proper inspections, low heat Kitec systems should not create a legitimate hurdle. Furthermore, if you find the perfect house that happens to have a good Kitec system, are you really willing to lose the home?
For more information about buying or selling a home in the Halifax area, contact us at any time.
Chris Perkins, Real Estate Consultant
HaliPad Real Estate Group