Why You Need a Home Inspector to Check the Plumbing Before You Buy
Reliable plumbing in a home is something many people take for granted—until they’re faced with a serious, messy, costly, and, oftentimes, odorous problem. We turn on the shower in the morning and expect nice hot water to help us start the day. When we flush, we don’t think twice that the water—and its contents—will go down the pipes rather than over the bowl. We turn a faucet and, voila, a steady stream of water appears. All things we rely on but rarely give a second thought.
As you’re looking at properties in your search for a new home, make sure to place quality plumbing at the top of your must-have list, and be certain to hire a home inspection team with the experience to provide an unbiased, knowledgeable assessment of this critical home system. Why? Because while you’re imagining all the fun you’ll have in your finished basement, first try to imagine what it would look like filled with four inches of standing water. Not so much fun anymore, right?
Not to worry, though. Before you sign on the bottom line, a certified home inspector, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, will spend a good deal of time checking out accessible aspects of the home’s plumbing system, including interior water supply and distribution systems; drain, waste, and vent systems; water heating equipment; sump pumps; fixtures, including toilets, sinks, showers, bathtubs, and floor drains; and more.
During this part of the inspection, your inspector will evaluate the components and note deficiencies in the report. Here are a few common plumbing issues A-Pro home inspectors have discovered after performing many thousands of home inspections since 1994.
- Sinks, tubs, and showers that do not drain properly
- Toilets that are leaky, loosely connected to the floor, or have missing or malfunctioning tank components. Soft or sagging spots in flooring at the base of toilets may be an indication of plumbing leaks.
- Visibly leaking pipes in the basement and under sinks: The inspector will report on pipe cracks, breaks, corrosion, and rust, as well as discoloring at pipe joints, ceiling watermarks and stains, floor moisture, pooling water, rotten wood, mold, and other indicators of excessive moisture and leaks.
- Missing or damaged mechanical drain stops
- Do-it-yourself plumbing installations and repairs (nothing screams “weekend handyman at work” like tape wrapped around a fitting or stacked boxes supporting a pipe)
- Absence of a pressure-relief valve on a water heater
- Non-working or improperly installed hot and cold faucets
- Clogged main sewer line: While the home inspector may note slow drainage or unusual toilet noise as tell-tale signs of a blocked main sewer line, the way to be sure about the source of the problem is with a Sewer Scope Inspection—an added service available from A-Pro Home Inspection. This involves the use of a camera to look inside the mainline to detect damage to the pipe, and tree roots and debris that may be restricting the flow of water, leading to backflow of water and sewage into the home (see a warning about “odorous problems” above).
- Cross-connection issues that can contaminate the water supply
- Non-functioning sump pump
- Use of banned or unsafe pipe material, such as pre-1960s zinc-coated galvanized pipes that can leech lead into the water over time
Please note that there are several checks that are beyond the scope of the traditional plumbing inspection. These include determining water quality; recording exact flow rate, volume, and temperature of water supply; inspecting wastewater-treatment systems; inspecting clothes washing machines and their connections; and other limitations.