Pipe Problems:

HYDRONIC HEAT

What If My heat Lines Begin To Fail?

Before: Polybutylene Hydronic Heat System
After: New Hydronic HePEX System

We find failing Polybutylene, Kitec and even Pitting Copper Piping needing replacement in hydronic heating systems:

Polybutylene was used extensively as a hydronic heat delivery piping despite the fact that it does not have an oxygen barrier. Oxygen in a hydronic heating system will perpetuate corrosion on the metallic components as well as the plastics to some degree. Increased iron oxide (rust) build up causes a myriad of issues in the system and dramatically reduces the life of the system.

The creators of polybutylene knew this, which is why Polybutylene was never meant to be used as, nor marketed for hydronic heating use. In fact, the District Court agreed, and Polybutylene hydronic heat piping systems were NOT covered under the Cox V Shell class action that ran its course in 2009.

Corroded Hydronic Heat Manifold

Polybutylene Hydronic Heat Replacement

A typical Polybutylene hydronic heating system is found in homes, hotels, multi-family housing, and condos built between 1978 and 1996. Polybutylene was an inexpensive alternative to copper or proper heat piping. It was much easier to install and one-third the cost of copper piping or HePEX. Builders and plumbers welcomed the pipe as efforts to maintain profits in a slumping economy increased in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Approximately 600,000 installations of  hydronic heat Polybutylene pipe occurred across the northern half of the United States.

Below are original pictures from the COX v Shell classaction lawsuit

Kitec Hydronic Heat Replacement

Kitec was and still is used in hydronic heating systems under different branding. The hydronic PEX-al-PEX tubing may look shiny and orange yet be stamped with a different name.

KITEC was used in the early 2000’s for both potable piping and hydronic heat piping installed as baseboard register heating, in floor radiant heating and staple up in floor radiant heating. The trade term for Kitec is PEX-al-PEX, which indicates a 3 layer pipe, the outer and inner layers are made of thin PEX, with a layer of aluminum sandwiched in between. Kitec is still in production today under different names / labels and is still used in some hydronic heating and potable applications. potable Kitec is typically red, blue, or orange. Hydronic Kitec is typically orange only.

Kitec Hydronic Heat Manifold
HePEX Hydronic Heat Manifold

The brass compression and or crimp fittings that connect Kitec piping contain high amounts of zinc, which to simplify the explanation – is basically water soluble causing them to break down when exposed to water and oxygen. This is called dezincification, by which zinc oxide forms within the fitting and causes a ‘Bird boning’ effect rendering the brass weak and brittle. Zinc oxide can also cause blockages in the fitting and attached copper components.