'Kyetec is a brand of brass plumbing fitting that was recalled in 2005 by its manufacturer, IPEX, due to its tendency to quickly corrode. Inspectors should be aware that the fitting, which was widely installed throughout the western United States and Canada since the early 1990s, might be the cause of some plumbing ailments encountered during inspections. As a result of Kitec's tendency to quickly fail (through a process known as dezincification), thousands of defective plumbing lawsuits have been filed.
Kitec was also sold in Canada for a time under the trademarks "IPEX Aqua", "IPEX Homerite", and under the more generic name "PEX-Al-PEX" (for PEX - polyethylene crosslinked - Aluminum - PEX).
Kitec was originally boasted as a corrosion-resistant alternative to earlier fittings made from copper. Corroded Kitec fitting IPEX manufactured the fittings with a high percentage of zinc, making them vulnerable to a corrosion of that element in a process that is known as dezincification. As water goes through the fittings it corrodes the metal and zinc leaches from the brass and creates a powdery buildup inside the fittings. This buildup can weaken the fitting, restrict water flow and, in the worst-case scenario, cause the pipe to leak or burst. Some homeowners have returned to their homes after being away for several days to find it flooded, requiring tens of thousands of dollars to replace carpet, drywall and furniture. Even small leaks, especially if they are hidden behind drywall, can lead to the growth of mold, which is itself a dangerous condition that can be expensive to repair.
To replace the fittings usually requires cutting into the walls and replumbing the house, which costs between $6,000 to $8,000, on average, although it can cost several times this amount. These costs are paid largely out of pocket, as some insurers do not cover repairs to items that were recalled and many insurers who will cover the repairs require a sizable deductible and increased rates.
Kitec's Canadian manufacturer, as well as homebuilding companies and plumbing contractors that installed Kitec fittings, have been the target of a series of massive class-action lawsuits.
The plaintiffs in these lawsuits, a nationwide class of home and business-owners who bought the defective Kitec plumbing system between the 1990s and 2007, are seeking to recover money damages in order to pay for a new plumbing system and damages incurred from the defective plumbing system. The plaintiffs claim that IPEX not only designed and manufactured a faulty product, but that they also marketed and sold it without disclosing the risks to consumers, and have failed to honor their product's warranty.
$128 Million law suit is now closed.