Plumbing is not an area of home ownership you want to mess around with. In short order, a tiny drip can become a leak worthy of Niagara Falls, putting you and your budget thousands of dollars into the red.
Read on to find out why scheduling a plumbing inspection is such a critical part of the pre-purchasing inspection process of buying a new home.
What to Check for During a Plumbing Inspection
These are the major areas a plumbing inspection should cover during your pre-purchase home inspection. The inspection company you select should provide you with a checklist of each element to be tested along with a full report of findings post-inspection.
However, typically an inspector will not provide cost estimates for repairs or replacements, so you may also want to get an appraisal before making a home purchase decision.
Step #1: Check the Water Heater.
Be sure the water heater to see if it's working properly. Water heaters have a life span of up to 10 years, and may need service within that time.
If the water heater at the home you are considering purchasing is corroded, lined with mineral deposits, inadequate to the size of the home or otherwise in a bad repair, consider renegotiating the purchase price of the home - or passing on the acquisition.
Step #2: Check Drain Pipes for Clogs.
Be sure to examine the pipes for any clogs in them. In some cases, there are a lot of internal clogs within the drains. Be sure to turn the water on to see if the flow of water is steady.
This standard repair should be identified during a thorough plumbing inspection so you can purchase the house knowing the drains are free and clear of debris.
Step #3: Check the Entire Plumbing Pipe System.
Having a plumber come to your house to inspect the entire piping system is extremely valuable. Not only will you have peace of mind, but it will ensure you that the pipes within your home are not in bad shape.
Leaks not only impact your bottom line with pipe repairs and replacements, but they can also cause your monthly water bill to increase substantially.
Step #4: Test all the Toilets.
Oh, the toilet. Responsible for up to 40 percent of household water use on a daily basis (yes, all those flushes can add up quickly) and up to 25 percent of all leaks, toilets must be tested thoroughly during a plumbing inspection.
Toilets are a huge deal within your home. Be sure to check if its flushing properly, and check the toilet for any damage.
Step #5: Inspect the Septic Tank.
If your house is connected to a septic system instead of a traditional sewer system, and this is the first time you will be using a septic system, this is a particularly critical inspection item.
Every time you have to clean out a septic tank, it costs a lot of money to fix. Always make sure to have a plumber to come to your home to check this out.
And the installation of a new septic system is always best to ensure the system attached to the house will be working well for many years to come.
Step #6: Check the Sump Pump.
Many homes have a sump pump, although checking its condition is typically not second nature since it is usually located in a lower area crawl space or a basement if the home has one.
A sump pump is a key to keeping water runoff away from the foundation, where it can sit and create conditions ripe for mold and mildew.
You want to be sure the sump pump on any home you consider buying is in good working order. This is particularly the case if the sump pump needs a full replacement.
Step #7: Check for Discolored Water.
The fixtures and water-based appliances (shower, sink, tub, washer, dishwasher, et al) in your prospective new home should always dispense clear, potable water.
When the water becomes discolored for any reason, there is always a risk of toxic contaminants. That is why water testing is a critical component of a pre-purchase plumbing inspection. Some contaminants may be considered low level, such as oxidation (rust) while other contaminants (lead, copper, algae, mold, brass) can come with severe potential health threats.
For homes that have had this issue in the past, you will often find a water purification and treatment system installed for the homeowner's use. You want to be sure this system is working well.
Step #8: Check for System-wide Leaks.
System-wide leak tests are a must for any pre-purchase home inspection. This is because many components in the average home's plumbing system are hidden from sight. So if a leak develops in one of these areas, it can become quite severe before anyone even realizes it is there.
The plumbing inspector should do a whole-system test to determine if leaks are present, the severity of detected leaks, the location and (if possible) what needs to be repaired or replaced to resolve the leak(s).