We heard that some plumbing pipes used in the mid 2000’s had problems. What do we need to look out for? – HIGH AND DRY
DEAR H&D: You’re thinking of the notorious Kitec plumbing, which consists of flexible aluminum pipe covered by inner and outer layers of plastic. Kitec was sold between 1995 and 2007. It was marketed as an affordable and “corrosion resistant alternative” to traditional copper pipes and fittings. As it turned out, the product had a tendency to corrode at an accelerated rate. It was recalled in 2005 and is no longer manufactured.
Because of its specialized fittings, Kitec plumbing has been prone to failure if exposed to excessive water pressure or water temperatures hotter than the manufacturer’s recommended 77C (180F). Because of water chemistry in some areas, there have even been issues with pipes disintegrating. Generally speaking, premature pipe failure is not uncommon and the risk of a leaking or burst pipe tends to increase with time.
Most Kitec plumbing can be identified by its bright orange or blue exterior, though it was also sold in red, blue, gray and black. Pipes tend to be stamped with one of a dozen different brand names, including Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée. If they are visible, fittings may be stamped with Kitec or KTC. If it is present, the easiest place to spot Kitec is near the hot water tank or under the sinks. The electrical panel door may also bear a warning sticker, as the electrical system can’t be grounded to it.
If you own or are considering a home with Kitec, the plumbing system might need to be replaced. Flexible PEX plumbing is a great option as it can easily bend around corners and be woven through existing holes. On the downside, it’s a bit pricey. The prospect of replacing Kitec may seem daunting, but a failure to do so will impact the house value and your ability to secure insurance at some point in the future.
We just installed a new roof on our house and it looks great, but now the facia and eaves look tired. Any suggestions? – UPDATING
DEAR UPDATING: Your facia and eaves won’t last forever, but if the metal, vinyl and paint is in decent shape, a good cleaning can make a huge difference. In my experience, a good scrubbing with deck wash (or a cleaner that targets organic-type materials) seems to work quite well. For tougher jobs, you can call in a professional power cleaning service, who can likely clear roof and tree debris from your eaves and downspouts at the same time.
If cleaning alone won’t do the trick, you may want to think about replacement. The cost of installing new eaves and facia might be around one percent of the value of your home and can do wonders for your curb appeal. I took this step on a historic property we are restoring. It cost me about $5,000 and was done in less than two days.