Plumbing Inspection Tips for a Home Purchase: What Buyers Must Know
When you’re buying a new house in Northern California, there’s a lot to juggle. Real estate costs in our area are rising steadily; you may need to negotiate a higher price for your current home while simultaneously haggling a lower one for your new place. You also have to pack up all of your belongings and schedule a time to move. And, if you have kiddos in school, there’s always the question about changing school districts.
I could probably keep this list going for the entire length of this post, but I think you get my point—purchasing a new home is a hectic endeavor. One thing you have to make time for, though, is a plumbing inspection for your home purchase, which is not the same thing as a house inspection, although equally important in order to ensure that you’re not inheriting problems that will manifest themselves unexpectedly in the years to come.
It’s absolutely vital that homeowners get these inspections, regardless of how new a house is—and having a plumbing inspection done is a relatively simple undertaking. Relatively simple, of course, compared to the alternatives, which range from ruptured pipes to sewage backups to pipe scaling that can impede the flow of hot water. It’s always best to know what you’re getting into—and that’s where a home plumbing inspection comes in.
Why a Plumbing Inspection for a Home Purchase Is a Must
In my experience, there’s a simple way to impress upon any homeowner why it’s so important to get a plumbing inspection during a home purchase: I just list all of the many components that make up a home plumbing system while describing why it is that they need to be checked—and what can happen if they aren’t.
- Water meter: This is a great first step in any home plumbing inspection. If all the faucets are closed and the water meter is running, you obviously have a problem with some kind of a leak.
- Water valves: Water valves control whether or not water can flow into a house. If there’s a problem, you may not be able to effectively turn off your water supply should the need inevitably arise. This could lead to your home flooding if a pipe bursts.
- Water heater: Inspecting a water heater means more than just checking to see if there’s hot water in the shower; it means a deep check to see if there are any signs of corrosion, a serious issue that, if left unchecked, can lead to your water heater shutting down.
- Faucets and sinks: All faucets and sinks need to be closely inspected in great detail, ensuring that they are fully functional with no drips or leaks. The water flow also needs to be tested to make sure that the pressure is as strong as it can be and not being impeded by something like pipe scaling.
- Toilets: Much of the inspection methods that apply to the faucets and sinks also apply to the toilets. There needs to be no drips or leaks, as well as maximum flow, so that the entire quantity of water is drained without any left over. An issue that seems small now often has the potential to get bigger, but an experienced plumber will be able to easily identify it during an inspection—and nip the issue in the bud.
- Septic system: If your potential new house has a septic tank rather than using the municipal sewer system, you’ll need to enlist a trained plumber to ensure that the system is fully functional. Odors and standing water are clear, obvious signs that there are problems, but there can be more subtle issues as well, all of which should be the seller’s responsibility to fix before a sale.
- Waste-vent pipes: This is one of the most important components of your plumbing system because it’s the way that sewage is able to get out of your home. You don’t want to take any chances here.
I could keep going, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a homeowner make it past number seven without saying, “Okay! I get the point!” Your plumbing system is one of the most complex facets of your home, even though you can’t see most of it. You’ll be doing yourself a major disservice if you don’t have an experienced residential plumber perform a full inspection before you finalize a home purchase.
The Dangers of Skipping a Plumbing Inspection During a Home Purchase
As many components of home plumbing as there are, there is an equal number of home plumbing problems that can crop up. Some are subtle and hard to detect, such as drains that will need to be unclogged after major rainfall. Others are easier to spot, like when a tree root is causing damage that may result in your yard flooding. I bring this all up to emphasize that the only way to guarantee that your plumbing system is in good working order is to get an inspection before your home purchase.
An inspection is just a small fraction of the cost of serious plumbing problems. Even simple jobs like fixing leaky faucets average out to as much as $150 an hour according to Home Adviser—and that can really add up if a job demands more time.
It’s really a practical matter. An inspection is just a small fraction of the cost of serious plumbing problems. Even simple jobs like fixing leaky faucets average out to as much as $150 an hour to fix according to Home Adviser—and that can really add up if a job demands a bit of time. Professional plumbers can point issues out before you commit, though, so you can work things out with a seller, avoiding big-time problems later.
Basically, an inspection is an investment you want to make. Most home buyers spend so much time examining surface qualities, like floorboards and paint and fixtures, but there can be a whole world of problems under the surface. A professional plumber will be able to get a good look at these hard to identify spaces, though.
Basically, an inspection is an investment you want to make. Most home buyers spend so much time examining surface qualities, like floorboards and paint and fixtures, but there can be a whole world of problems under the surface.
So, yes, I know when you’re buying a new house in Northern California you have a million things to consider, like whether you’re going to end up somewhere where you can enjoy our wonderful Delta breeze. Your hot water heater shutting down soon after you move probably isn’t on your mind. But, trust me, if you have to take even one painfully cold shower you’ll be wishing that you’d invested the time and money to have a trained professional do a full plumbing inspection. You wouldn’t buy a house without going inside, would you? So why would you buy one where the hidden interior plumbing is a mystery?
If you’ve recently purchased a home, but didn’t get a plumbing inspection before signing the papers, don’t wait for a plumbing problem to bubble up. Contact the plumbing experts at Bell Brothers to get a full inspection—regardless of how long you’ve owned your home. And, while we’re visiting, let us give you a whole house assessment for energy efficiency and offer recommendations and upgrades that are sure to increase your year-round comfort—and decrease your power bills.
Wondering how to finance an HVAC system, windows, or plumbing in a new (or well-loved) home? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.
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