When purchasing a new home, there are many factors to take into consideration not only to make a sound real estate investment, but also to ensure the property isn’t a money pit. Everything from structural damage to foundation problems to electrical issues should be thoroughly examined; the same goes for potential plumbing issues.
In order to help the homebuyer make an informed decision, the following list will assist in pinpointing common problems associated with home plumbing. These issues cover both newer construction as well as older homes. As always, if there seems to be a plumbing issue in question, it’s always wise to contact a professional plumber or home inspector.
1. Septic or Sewer
One of the first things a homebuyer should look for when purchasing a new home is whether or not the house is on city sewage or septic. If it’s on city sewage, there’s a good chance that any plumbing issues will be minimal. City or municipal sewage is reliable and can take on an almost unlimited amount of waste.
On the other hand, if it’s in fact a septic tank that the house in question has, there are some signs to look for. First, find out where the septic tank is located on the property. In most cases, it’s in the backyard. Second, inspect the ground around the septic tank. If there are any soft spots in the ground or a strong sewer smell, the tank may have a leak. And third, simply ask the previous or current owner the last time the tank was cleaned and inspected. Don’t be shy about requesting receipts. Septic tank replacement is costly.
2. Lead Pipes
Not only are lead pipes a hassle to replace, they’re also an environmental hazard due to, that’s right, their lead content. If the house was built before the year 2000, there’s a chance lead or galvanized plumbing was used. These types of metals can and will corrode causing major health and plumbing issues.
One key thing to look for when determining whether or not the house in question has lead pipes is if there’s rust in the water. Also, metallic tasting water could mean there are lead pipes as well. Considering a one-story 2,500 square foot house can cost $15,000 or more to re-plumb, this is something that needs to be figured out. And, if all else fails, ask the current homeowner or call an inspector.
3. Water Heater
The water heater should also be taken into consideration before purchasing that new home. A quick way to find out whether or not the water heater is functioning is to simply run the hot water from a faucet. If it doesn’t heat, or takes a while to reach the desired temperature, the water heater may need to be replaced. Also, keep in mind that a family of four requires at least a 50-gallon water heater tank to provide consistently hot water.
4. Water Pressure
Weak water pressure could indicate plumbing issues too. A good test for low water pressure is to run the bathroom sink and flush the toilet at the same time. If the water pressure drops drastically, this could be an indicator of improper plumbing, corroding pipes, or a blockage. This is also a good time to see if all that water is properly draining. Slow draining or non-draining pipes could be any number of serious issues.
5. Water Stains
A great visual indicator of plumbing issues in a new home is the presence of water stains on the walls and ceiling. Water stains on the ceiling are only likely in multiple story homes. If there are brown stains or warped drywall on any bathroom or kitchen walls, this is a pretty good indicator that there might be leaking pipes or corroded pipes.
Homebuyers need to be aware of just about everything when it comes to the issues that go along with a new home. And, when it comes to plumbing issues in particular, the tips above will helpfully point out potential problems. Before agreeing on that closing cost, make sure the house is sound and the plumbing is too.