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How to Inspect Plumbing Before Buying a New Home

Suburban Home with large front yard

The  home inspection process is critical, but can be elusive and confusing. While you may be aware of obvious problems such as a clogged toilet, there may be other serious plumbing issues that aren’t on your radar. In addition to the general home inspection process, learning how to inspect plumbing on your own can avoid headaches, and even plumbing disasters.

Buying a home is one of the most exciting (and expensive) purchases your family will ever encounter. When it comes to your new house, you want more than just a roof over your head -- it needs the capacity to entertain loved ones, the space to grow with your family and the foundation to withstand your lifestyle. The last thing you want to have is faulty plumbing and a potential plumbing violation handed down from the city.

We broke down a few common plumbing issues you should be on the lookout for when purchasing a new home.

 

Water contamination

Not only is a contaminated water source dangerous, but it can be incredibly costly. Testing for contamination will reveal hidden problems such as invasive roots damaging the pipes, lead or rust. This is something a trained plumbing professional can help with.

Cross-connection is another common plumbing issue that professional inspectors should check. This occurs when water that’s meant for your home comes in contact with another water source. This will often happen when a city water main pipe breaks lower than the pipe used to filter water back into the house.

If this is the case, the pipe will suck water through a shower head that’s lying in a tub (which will contaminate it with shampoo, dye or other chemicals). By the time it makes its way back to the main break, it’ll taint the entire initial water source. Since most people can’t tell when water is contaminated, it’s best to call a trained plumber to test it at the source.

 

Faulty water heaters

The national average for water heater replacement is $1,047—which is quite a penny for most homeowners. That’s why it’s so important that you consider the state of the home’s hot water tank before making the purchase.

In general, water heaters last about a decade. If you’re not sure how old the unit is, you can call in a trained professional to determine it based on model and serial number. If the tank is corroding, damp, or lacking hot water,it’s pretty safe to say it’s on its way out. And don’t even think about ignoring it—as unreplaced aging water heaters can give out from the bottom and cause severe flooding (and accompanying water damage).

You should also take a look at your water heater’s location. Is it near carpet, hardwood floor or furniture? If so, it could leak and ruin your living space.

Clogged drains

Whether the culprit is loose hair, toiletry deposits, built-up oils or random materials, we’ve all dealt with the occasional clogged drain. The trick, though, is to remove the clog quickly. If overlooked, it could lead to damaging leaks.

To check a drain, turn on the faucet and let it run for two or three minutes. It should drain fast and continue to flow for the entire duration. If the kitchen has a garbage disposal, make sure that runs smoothly, as well.

If you want to take it a step further, look under the sink for leaks, water damage or mold (which can cause health problems). While down there, take note if the drain line or disposal has new paint. This can be a sign that the previous owners are covering up a dated system.

Constantly running toilets

Sure, runny toilets are a nuisance. More often than not, you can fix it by replacing a faulty chain or flapper. But this recurring annoyance could be a sign of a more serious draining problem. If a toilet isn’t draining properly, it can lead to leaks.

To check for leaks, look around the bottom of the tank. Since water is a universal solvent, these leaks tend to wear down seals and gaskets. If you want to see if the toilet is in excellent condition, look for damage to the surrounding area. Check for any nearby discoloration, if the floor feels soft or if the bowl wiggles in place when you move it.

Don’t try to seal a toilet yourself—trust us, water is strong, and it will make its way through. And when it does, you’ll be left with a rotting floor.

 

 

Take the problems out of plumbing

Want more information on how to inspect plumbing in a new home? Work with a team of plumbing professionals on your new home's thorough plumbing inspection, tune-ups and fixes in your new home. We’re excited to welcome you to the neighborhood! Call the plumbing, electricity and HVAC experts at John C. Flood at (703) 783-0247 or schedule service online.