Conducting a Plumbing Inspection

When contemplating buying a house it is important to hire a qualified home inspector to review the home and investigate for any damages or potentially costly repairs which would be required. For $300 to $400 it is money well spent.

However, that doesn’t mean while you’re looking at the property you can’t perform an initial inspection of your own. Falling in love with the house and paying $400 to an inspector to pop your bubble by finding expensive repairs which need to be made, which you could have caught the first walk through is silly and unproductive, not to mention emotionally stressful.

Plumbing is a major expense if there needs to be any extensive renovation or repairs required. Unlike the electric, not all the plumbing is inside the walls, so you can get a visual inspection on a large portion of the plumbing system.

Let’s look at a few of the items you should be on the look out for.

Initially, as you go through the kitchen and bathrooms turn on the faucets, hot and cold to each fixture and flush the toilet. Just because there’s faucets in the sinks don’t mean they have water going to them or function properly, same with the toilet.

Check under the cabinets for any sign of leakage or water stains, a bucket under the drain is a sure sign there’s an issue. All kidding aside check for leaks or build up around the drain pipes which indicates leakage and oxidation.

See what the drains are made of, chrome, unless shiny is old, plastic or PVC is newer and can be the result of an old repair or remodeling, or an emergency repair and cover up for the sale of the house.

Going to the basement check out the hot water heater, it’s condition and age. A gas hot water heater can cost $500 and if you have to have it installed that could run as high as $400. One apparently “no big deal” item has just cost you $900 out of your pocket.

If the hot water heater is brand new, be sure to check the capacity in gallons. A brand new hot water heater too small to provide hot showers for everyone in the morning is of no real benefit.

Check the floor drains, unless there’s water from air conditioner condensate or a water softener, there shouldn’t be water around the drains or tell tale stains of water trails.

Check to see what the sewer pipes are made of, because some cities have begun making the new home owner replace cast iron plumbing with newer PVC plumbing, and replacing a cast iron plumbing stack is a major expense. That doesn’t mean don’t buy the house. That means ask questions as to the laws governing cast iron plumbing, there may not be a problem at all.


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