Homes in the Calgary area with boiler in-floor heating systems installed prior to 2007 may be using Kitec piping. Kitec piping has been proven to be prone to leaks both in the actual pipe and around the fittings.
If you have – or even suspect – that you have Kitec plumbing in your home, our professional recommendation is that you have it replaced immediately.
Knight’s team of expert plumbers can perform thorough inspections of both your standard plumbing and your in-floor heating manifold to determine the current condition of your Kitec plumbing and how best to replace it.
More Information on Kitec Plumbing
Here is what you should know about Kitec in your home.
1. How Do I Know If I Have Kitec Pipes?
Kitec pipes were most commonly used when installing in-floor heating, but it was also used for regular residential plumbing from 1995 up to 2007 in many parts of the country.
You can identify Kitec pipes by the bright orange casing. While it also comes in blue casings, this colour was rarely used in Calgary. It will also say “Kitec” on the actual pipe.
You can find it in the basement on the manifold for your in-floor heating system.
2. What’s the Problem with Kitec Pipes?
There are two main issues with Kitec pipes, both leading to leaks.
The first issue is the pipe itself. Kitec pipes have PEX (polyethylene) on the outside, aluminium as the interior layer, and a final layer of PEX on the inside.
While PEX pipes are durable on their own, this particular aluminium and PEX blend was only built to withstand temperatures of 180ºF.
Many water heaters and boilers become less efficient as they age, causing homeowners to turn up the temperature. If the water running through Kitec pipes is hotter than 180ºF, the pipes have proven to become weaker, leaving you prone to heavy leaks or even a burst.
The second – and more common – issue is the fittings used on Kitec piping, which are made of brass.
Brass is a zinc and copper alloy, and the brass in Kitec IPEX brand fittings has a higher concentration of zinc than other fittings.
Kitec IPEX fittings are susceptible to dezincification. This means that all the zinc effectively wears away, leaving only the copper part of the alloy, which makes the fitting porous and structurally weak.
Dezincification occurs when there’s a high pipe-wall temperature and when the fitting comes into contact with slightly acidic or alkaline water.
Calgary’s water is known to be hard, which means it has a lot of minerals in it. As a result it’s alkaline, and continued exposure to this water will cause dezincification in the Kitec fittings. This is what leads to leaks around the fittings.
You can learn more about dezincification here >
Any leaks in Kitec plumbing could cause severe water damage, especially since most of the pipe will be underground. You won’t know about a leak until it’s too late.
If you have a finished basement, this could culminate in an expensive renovation.
3. Does Water Pressure Cause Kitec Pipes to Burst?
The higher the water pressure, the more prone your Kitec pipes are to rattling and bursting. Most boiler and in-floor heating systems operate with a water pressure of less than 20 psi (pound per square inch) – this is a low pressure that shouldn’t cause extra strain on your pipes.
We can install pressure reduction valves if you use Kitec pipes for any of your regular plumbing as a temporary fix.
4. Are Kitec Pipes Susceptible to Freezing?
Kitec pipes are typically more prone to freezing, as they aren’t as flexible as pure PEX pipes.
However, when your plumbing is properly insulated and your home properly heated, your risk of frozen pipes is low.
5. How Much Does Kitec Plumbing Cost to Replace?
Depending on the extent of the Kitec plumbing in your home, it can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. We would replace the Kitec with oxy-barrier PEX piping – it has a membrane that prevents the migration of oxygen in and out of the pipes, which was the problem with poly b pipes.
It’s important to note that the costs mentioned above are just for the pipe and plumbing work. It doesn’t not include the costs of pulling up and replacing any flooring.
6. Do I Have to Replace All the Kitec Plumbing at Once?
Not necessarily – in some cases we can replace sections of your Kitec plumbing over time. We have the fittings to transition from Kitec to PEX piping. However, we still recommend strongly that all Kitec plumbing be replaced as quickly as possible.
Have Knight Inspect Your Kitec Plumbing
We can perform an inspection of your home’s plumbing system and let you know if you have Kitec pipes, and how soon they should be replaced. We’ll give you an honest quote and provide you with viable options for your plumbing.