Welcome to NARWHAL PLUMBING
November 12, 2019
Buying a home is a huge investment, both financially and emotionally. It's important to check over the property thoroughly before committing yourself, but one thing many potential buyers overlook is the state of the plumbing system.
However, ignoring this can be a huge a mistake. Replacement or renovation of the plumbing after buying can be a major expense. And that's not to mention the potential for costly damage if the system fails.
To be sure your new home won't be plagued by plumbing misery, be sure to check these points before deciding to make an offer.
1) Water Heater
First, visually inspect the water heater. Any signs of corrosion should be a red flag, along with any suspicious staining around the connections. Replacing the water heater would be a major expense you shouldn't need to deal with only a few months into your new home.
But even if the heater looks in good condition, ask to see its service history to satisfy yourself it's safe, especially if it's an older model that's seen plenty of use.
2) Lead Piping
Older houses may still contain legacy lead piping, especially hidden away in the basement or crawl spaces. Lead from these pipes leeches directly into drinking water, and from there builds up in the body raising several serious health risks.
Check that there's no old lead piping visible around the home, but also ask for a guarantee that there's none lurking where you can't see it.
3) Plastic Piping
However, while lead piping is a no-no, beware of cheap, white plastic pipes and fittings. These are irresistible to many rodents, and their gnawing and chewing can lead to leaks and severe damage which may not be covered by insurance.
Plastic fittings in busy areas such as the kitchen or bathroom are likely to be safe enough, but plastic in the attic, basement, or other hidden-away places is a real risk.
Also, make sure that any plastic pipes aren't made from polybutylene, a gray, flexible plastic that was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Unfortunately, this material reacts badly with chlorine, and will likely fail sooner rather than later.
4) Check the Basement
If the property has a basement, check it carefully for signs of damp or mold. While these may be relatively innocent and simply down to the below-ground location, any serious water staining or excess moisture could be a sign of leaky pipes and should be investigated further.
5) Check the Toilets
Flush every toilet in the property, even if this feels a little embarrassing to do in the presence of the owner or agent. You need to check for clogging, but flushing will also give you a good feeling for the water pressure in the property. Slow-flushing toilets could be a warning sign that there's a problem in the main water connection or the internal pipework.
Also, look for any discoloration around the base of the toilets. This usually means the whole fixture needs replacing, and simply sealing the leak is only storing up future problems.
6) Check the Showers
Likewise, turn on the showers and let them run for a few minutes. This will give you another hint about how strong the water pressure is, but you'll also be able to see how fast the water drains away.
If it starts backing up, it could be a simple case of a clogged shower outlet pipe, or it could be something more serious. Either way, it's something you want to discover before deciding to buy.
Also, running the showers for a few minutes lets you check the water quality. In empty properties, some discoloration is normal and it should quickly clear. However, if the home is occupied or the water stays dirty for more than a few seconds, it's likely there's corrosion somewhere in the system.
Of course, you may not feel comfortable giving the plumbing such a thorough investigation during your first viewing. But a serious seller will be happy to let you return and dive a little deeper before you put in an offer.
Checking all these plumbing points will put you one step closer to a successful, surprise-free home-buying experience.
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