Kitec was used in the early 2000’s as both potable (drinking, showers, toilets…etc) and Hydronic Heat Piping, as baseboard register heating, and in-floor & staple-up 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 PEX, and there’s a layer of aluminum sandwiched in between. Kitec is currently in production under different names / labels and is still used in some potable hydronic heating applications. Potable Kitec is typically red, blue, or orange – while Hydronic Heat Kitec is typically orange only.
The brass compression and crimp fittings that connect Kitec piping contain high amounts of zinc. Because of this they are water soluble – they break down when exposed to water and oxygen. This is called dezincification – Zinc oxide forms within the fitting and causes a ‘Bird Boning’ effect, leaving the brass weak and brittle. Zinc oxide can also cause blockages in the fitting and attached copper components.
Additionally, dezincification is accelerated when the first layer of KITEC PEX is penetrated by the brass compression fitting or compression ring and galvanic corrosion initiates upon contact with the aluminum. We see this often, essentially two dissimilar metals come in contact and engage in a corrosive electrolyte, water being the electrolyte conductor.
One metal (the cathode) is protected, whilst the other (the anode) is corroded. The rate of attack on the anode metal is greatly accelerated compared to the rate when the metal is not in contact with a dissimilar metal. Quite a mouthful – long story short = shortened life.
The third failure method we see relates to the initial install. During transport or handling during install, If the pipe was ever kinked by bending into a tight radius or crushed by weight, the aluminum layer will tear or perforate, and eventually penetrate the inner or outer layer of PEX – or both. Also, the aluminum layer is slightly overlapped to form the circumference, and we have seen this overlapped area separate time and time again. We see such perforations, tears and overlap separations leak behind walls, in ceilings, concrete hydronic heated floors, heated driveways, and sidewalk slabs ruining foundations and caissons.
WHY CHOOSE REPLUMB SPECIALTIES TO REPLACE YOUR KITEC SYSTEM?
EXPERIENCE THAT COUNTS
COLORADO & Utah
The Team @ Replumb Specialties Inc. has replaced Kitec, Polybutylene, Copper, Galvanized, Entran, and other failing plumbing systems across the United States Since 1992. We are the original pipe replacement contractor for the Polybutylene Class Action Settlement. We’ve successfully replaced systems in over 14,000 homes and commercial buildings. We also developed and perfected the ‘containment’ process copied by most replumb contractors today.