How to Inspect the Plumbing in a New Home Before You Buy

Plumbing issues that are overlooked can be costly in the long run. When considering your next home purchase, here is a list of things to check to ensure that your potential new home has an effective plumbing system before you close the deal.

Inspect water heater – Water heaters usually last about 10 years. Check the age of the heater, and if it’s around 10 years old or older, request to have it replaced. Ensure the heater is big enough to suit your family’s needs. Otherwise, you will find yourself running out of hot water frequently. Depending on how hard the water is at the house, mineral deposits can cause corrosion and build up in the bottom of the tank. This leaves less space for water to enter and will affect how much water gets heated for use.

Inspect toilets for possible leaks – Inspecting all toilets in the home can tell you a lot about the condition of the plumbing system. Flush each toilet and make sure they fill back up again. Check around the base of each toilet, and if the floor moves or feels spongy, this may indicate a leak that is going into the sub-floor that may one day cause damage.

Check water supply valve – The water supply valve is in a different location in each home. Locating it during your home inspection would be beneficial in case you ever have a water leak and need to shut off all water immediately. To determine if the valve is in good working order, turn it off and then check all taps in the home. If water still pours from the taps even when the valve is shut, attempt to locate a secondary water supply valve. If none is found, request an additional inspection to determine if the valve is faulty.

Determine the type of sewage system – If the home is in an urban area, chances are sewage will drain to a municipal sewage system. If it is in a rural area, sewage likely will drain to an on-site septic tank. In this case, determine the location of the tank and size, which should be available from the current owner. Ask the owner when the tank was last pumped and request that it be pumped before the closing date. If the tank uses an aerator, check that it is in good working order. At the house inspection, look for seeping around the general area of the septic tank, and be aware of any odors. These are signs of problems with the septic system which will cost you thousands of dollars to repair.

Check for leaking pipes – Some people may think that an occasional leaking pipe is minor, but consistent leaking over a long period of time can lead to structural damage, including leaks through the floor down to lower level rooms. Check underneath all kitchen and bathroom sinks for leaking pipes. Ensure any pipes that are leaking get repaired immediately. While insurance companies cover damages caused by flooding and burst pipes, slow leaks such as ones from leaking pipes generally are not covered. 

Check water temperature and pressure – Turn on the showers in the house and make sure the water gets hot and the pressure is at an acceptable level. If the water does not get hot, there may be an issue with the water heater that you need to address. If the water pressure is weak, this may point to a mineral build-up around the showerhead or problems with the water pipes drawing water into the home such as inadequate size or a clog preventing water from getting through.

The plumbing in a house can create many issues that are costly and inconvenient, from leaks to water shortages. Following these tips will ensure that the plumbing system in the home you are considering will meet your needs for years to come.