Last week we posted on our condos.ca blog about the dangers of Kitec Plumbing. It’s something that owners of Toronto lofts need to be aware of as well. If your Toronto loft was built, converted or renovated between 1995 and 2007, chances are Kitec Plumbing was used and that may be a problem. If you currently own a loft or you’re starting to look at Toronto lofts for sale, you need to be aware of this issue.
Kitec Plumbing is a flexible form of polyethylene and aluminum plumbing that was recalled due to its tendency to deteriorate or fail altogether in situations of high water pressure or heat. For Toronto lofts and homes that use Kitec plumbing and fittings, there’s a high probability of failure which could result not just in a minor leak but a full-on flood due to bursting pipes.
The good news is that after a major class-action lawsuit, homeowners in both Canada and the US may be eligible for settlement claims. If your unit has Kitec Plumbing installed, it’s highly advisable that you contact the settlement administrators and register with them, even if a problem hasn’t occurred yet.
If you’re currently looking at various lofts for sale in Toronto, know that the seller does not have to legally disclose the use of Kitec Plumbing to you. If there’s any question of its use, get a home inspection done before firming up your offer. It doesn’t mean you should avoid the loft altogether but you do need to understand the potential costs and headache involved with retrofits.
Here’s what you need to know.
According to the Kitec Settlement website, the pipes are:
“…usually marked with one of the following brand names: Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée. Where the fittings are visible look for the words Kitec or KTC on them. The terms CSA B137.9/10 or ATSM F1974 could also indicate that you have a Kitec system.”
Since most plumbing is behind the walls or under the floor, the best place to locate your pipes in a loft is under the kitchen sink or bathroom vanity. You should also ask your board to inspect the hot water tank in the mechanical room. If they see blue and orange pipes like this connecting to it, it’s probably Kitec:
The Star recently reported on this topic stating that, in an unnamed midtown Toronto condo that had been constructed using Kitec, the anticipated costs for retrofitting a suite with copper pipes would be about $5,000 to $6,500 for one-bedroom units and $8,000 to $10,500 for larger units. Those estimates only include the costs to replace the plumbing and drywall and not the associated tile work in the kitchen and bathroom.
The Star also pointed out that bills can’t be paid from the loft’s / condo’s reserve fund; owners have to pay individually and then try to get their money back through the settlement claim fund. But be aware that you won’t see any money in-hand until after January 2020 when the claim is settled, which means you’ll be out of pocket until that time.
The settlement was for $125M ($25M going to the lawyers and $100M to Canadian and US claimants) and homeowners have until January 2020 to file a claim. It’s difficult to say until the expiry date how much individual claimants can expect because we don’t yet know how many claimants will step forward. Regardless of the final tally, it’s clearly well worth your time to register if you’ve been affected.
The claim administrators recommend that you register even if you haven’t yet experienced any issues with your Kitec Plumbing. They also recommend immediate replacement if you’ve had even a minor leak but that a watch-and-wait strategy may be okay if you’ve yet to experience any issues.
However, they caution that if you decide not to replace your plumbing at this time, you must inspect it regularly (including condo management arranging for regular inspections of the pipes around the hot water tank). Watch for a build-up of white residue around fittings and/or a blackening or bulging of the pipes. Know that failure typically happens first around the hot water tank.
If you decide not to retrofit your plumbing at this time, we advise that, at the very least, you to check with your home insurance provider on their policies regarding Kitec. A watch-and-wait strategy may backfire if you have a flood and then find out that you’re not covered for damage to the loft and its contents because the product that malfunctioned had been recalled years ago.
Photos of Kitec Plumbing © CAC Services Group, LLC, 2011.