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Check your water pipes before they burst

A pipe that bursts with no warning can destroy more than just your plumbing. Yet it happens fairly frequently with a certain type of pipe popular in some homes.

SAN ANTONIO — Kitec water pipes replaced copper pipes between 1995 to 2007. The three-layered plastic and aluminum pipes were thought to be more corrosion resistant than copper. It turns out that is not true. Kitec pipes usually don't just develop small leaks.

“This one seems to be bursting,” said Elmer Zubiate, owner of Elmer’s On Time Plumbing in San Antonio. “So it causes more damage than a regular pipe. The copper pipes they used, it would spring a pinhole leak. That right there wouldn’t cause as much damage as an actual burst pipe.”

Kitec pipes are likely to cause more damage when they break. Zubiate said there is no warning before they burst.

“All of a sudden, it’s just all you see—water coming into your home. And you’re like, 'Oh, what happened?'” he said. “Possibly at the worst time. Usually it’s going happen when somebody’s not home.”

How do you identify Kitec pipes? You cannot necessarily tell by the color. The first clue is when your home was built or renovated.

“About 1995 to 2007 is when a lot of construction companies were using this,” Zubiate said.

Then look at the label on the pipes. It will say “Kitec.” There is no fixing Kitec pipes since they are unreliable and no longer manufactured. So if one bursts, here is how it will be remedied:

“We have to either replace it all or convert to a more modern or more reliable type material,” Zubiate said.

Home insurance generally covers accidental damage such as pipes bursting. Sarah George, the insurance writer for Finder.com, said it is best to double-check your policy.

“Insurance companies may have to take extra steps like having a professional come and inspect your home on a regular basis to make sure that the piping is well maintained,” she said. “In some cases, insurance companies aren’t wanting to cover the damage that’s caused by Kitec piping, so it’s definitely important to check with your insurance agent.”

Zubiate recommends replacing Kitec pipes before they burst. That can be costly, so he suggests getting your pipes assessed.

“Evaluate it, right? We’ll go out,” he said. “There’s no charge. We always give people options, you know, to fit their budget.”

A phased replacement will help keep your wallet from springing a leak. 

If you have a question for Eyewitness Wants To Know, email us at EWTK@kens5.com or call us as 210-377-8647.

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