In the excitement of buying a home, it can be tempting to overlook some aspects of a property’s history, but you should always at least invest in a plumbing inspection before buying to make sure you know what to expect in that arena.
Though it is one of the most important things to consider, many homebuyers go ahead and take the plunge before attending to this crucial step only to realize the consequences of hasty decision making, and that the hazards of a faulty plumbing system can be quite an expensive problem to deal with after the fact.
Water damage and leakage due to aging or deteriorating plumbing can occur unseen for quite some time before the symptoms become apparent, and by that time you could have a really costly mess on your hands. Here are some issues to be aware of regarding your initial plumbing inspection.
1. Poorly Installed Pipes
The biggest problem with poorly installed pipes is water leakage, and consequently, mold growth. Mold can start to propagate in less than 48 hours, causing all sorts of respiratory health problems. You must keep the humidity level in your home lower than 50% to keep mold issues at bay, and leaky pipes will only exacerbate a mold problem. If you find mold growth you or the current owner needs to do a mold remediation, as this is a danger to all people living on the property.
Another issue that comes with poorly installed pipes are venting issues. If you notice strong sewer odors in the home, toilets that are sputtering or gurgling, or water draining very slowly in the sinks, you could have venting problems. This is due to pipe corrosion or clogged pipes preventing proper airflow.
2. Leaky Toilets
If there is water around the base of the toilet(s) then it means obviously there is a problem with leakage. In some cases this is an easy fix, as it could just be due to an aging commode needing some repair. It is recommended that the seals and gaskets be periodically replaced.
But if you notice discoloration and rotting wood around the toilet, then it means that this problem was left to fester and could be that there is a more serious problem waiting to be discovered.
3. Outdated Sewage System
A plumbing system can be sewer or septic. A sewer system runs out to the city’s main line and that is how water waste is managed. A septic system runs into a tank or a field. Each can develop specific problems over time no matter what type of system it is.
Warning signs to watch out for in a septic tank are odors, and water seepage. On the other hand, a water main that is managed by the city can deteriorate in another way, such as tree roots growing into the line, or backups occurring due to the deterioration of the main line. A plumber will often times run a video inspection into the line to check for any potential issues.
4. Water Heater Issues
A water heater will last about 10-15 years on average, and you can find out how old a water heater is by looking at its model and serial number.
If it is approaching the end of its life, you can factor in another $1,000 to $2,000 to replace it. A water heater can give out at the base and cause major flooding if it is left too long, so it is important to find out its status so you are prepared when the time comes to get a new one.
5. Clogged Drains
In addition to faulty pipes causing clogged drains, a blockage to the main sewer line clog can also cause big problems if not attended to. This is because sewage can backup into the house and cause plumbing appliances not to work properly. Besides causing major damage to your property, clogged drains can also pose some very serious health risks.
You can determine problems in a sewer line by having a professional plumber check the main line for clogs in the main line cleanout. You can also do it yourself, and rent a machine that helps clear the clog, or use a drain snake to do it.
6. Lead Pipes
The problems caused by lead pipes have been all over the news in the last few years. Older homes that have not had the pipes replaced in over 50 years can have issues with lead pipes. Lead can leach into the water supply and cause major health problems for residents exposed to it.
There is no level of safe exposure to lead, and it can be especially detrimental to young children and expectant mothers. You must always have a plumber inspect the pipes to see if they contain lead, because you would most likely incur a major expense in order to replace them.
7. Weigh the Costs
When purchasing a home, there are always pros and cons to consider. For example, the property might be in the perfect location, but need some general repair to become the home of your dreams.
The fact that you may be in for some plumbing rehabilitation is no reason to pass on purchasing a property, because simply being aware of the particular issues you might face will give you peace of mind as you continue your home buying process.
Make sure you inspect all the previous plumbing features and you hire someone with the necessary knowledge to find any hidden problems. A plumbing issue in a new home can turn the new home into a nightmare.