The ink would have barely dried on your Deed before you find out there is a plumbing nightmare brewing in the home of your dreams. Buying a new home is fraught with a dozen or more concerns, but they should be paint colors and swatches, not bubbling sewage and rotting main lines. Do not assume your inspector will catch everything.
Plumbing is a great deceiver when someone is not an expert in the minutia.
Here are 5 plumbing check must do’s for the potential homeowner:
1- TOILETS. Toilets seem like a small-fry worry. This is true, they can be purchased and installed for a very reasonable price. What really makes the toilet a watch-for trouble item is the slow and nearly invisible leak into the sub-floor underneath. Warping, discoloration, and a soft floor with the step of a foot, (this means a floor that gives with body weight,) are all signs there could be damage from leaking seals.
2- PIPES. Make sure you ask the inspector to identify the type of pipes you have in your dream home. Galvanized pipes are as old as time. These are not great to have in any home. From age, lead, and rust, they are certain to fail at some point. This would be
fairly soon as Murphy’s Law has a close relationship with plumbing and home buyers.
Use the pipes in a negotiation to get the price dropped as you will most certainly have to re-pipe if it is galvanized.
3- PIPES PART DEUX. After your inspector assesses the type of pipes you have, make sure the inspector checks with as much certainty as humanly possible to find any connections to other types of metal pipes. Metal to metal connections need special connections to prevent corrosion if they are of dissimilar elements. Dielectric connections are necessary.
4- WATER HEATERS. Water heaters last 10-11 years. When they go, they can go big. An area in a home that mysteriously has a water all over the floor is not an infrequent occurrence. It often takes people a minute to figure out it is from the water heater, the unseen and unheard; until that dog has seen it’s last day. Check the date of manufacture and installation. If it is too old for comfort, use that as a negotiating tactic. If the pipes running to it are not copper, and even more importantly, if it is not properly earthquake
strapped according to California code, use that in negotiation, as well.
5- SEWER LINES. The granddaddy of plumbing nightmares, the glorious sewer lines! The idea of the sewage from one’s own family is fairly repulsive, but the idea that the sewage from down the line belonging to the previous owner coming back into your new home or permeating your yard is so disgusting it can keep you at night. Make absolutely sure that you hire your own plumber to send a camera down that line so you know the facts will be true and thoroughly researched. A sewer main is the main artery to the home’s plumbing and this is costly repair, usually coming AFTER you move in and after something gross has happened.
Follow these suggestions for home buying plumbing checks and balances. You will go in with your eyes wide open, and with all the information you need to negotiate. This is especially critical if major repairs need to be done on the plumbing.