Gray pipes running alongside wooden beams.

How to Check the Plumbing before Buying a House

The search for a new home is stressful enough, even without having to worry about not purchasing a house that is in good condition. Nevertheless, we do: buying a home is always a huge deal for both us and our bank accounts. And nobody wants to end up shelling out more than they planned. That’s why many necessary checks must be made to ensure the place is in shipshape before closing the deal, and plumbing is one of those checks. Home inspections are an excellent way to determine whether or not a home is in good shape, but if you personally want to make sure everything is in order, we will show you how to check the plumbing before buying a house.

However, before you begin, it is best to consult with professionals about the best approach to inspecting the plumbing of a house you intend to purchase. If at all possible, have a professional inspect the plumbing for you.

Examine the Water and Drain Lines

The first thing you need to do when checking the plumbing is to look for cracked or broken drains. Many older houses still have original pipes composed of glazed earthenware or vitrified clay. These materials are not ideal because they deteriorate over time and become brittle. As a result, they are prone to cracking, tree root invasion, and even total collapse. 

A pink bathroom with a running faucet.
The first step when you check the plumbing is to ensure that all of the faucets and drains are operational.

There are, however, two very easy tests that may tell a lot about plumbing. First, inspect the drain for evidence of corrosion, which, although uncommon, might create issues. Second, inspect the exposed water lines, such as those under the kitchen sink, to ensure there are no leaks or discoloration. It’s also worth checking the drainage; just turn on the taps and see whether the drainage speed is appropriate.

Assess the Property for Signs of Water Damage

When you look around the property, keep an eye out for water damage in every room. There are pipes in all the walls and floors, and it would be easy to miss water damage if you don’t pay close attention. There are several clear signs of water damage that may be present. You may detect dark stains on the ceiling if water leaks from a pipe. Similarly, there may be signs of water damage in or around the basement, so keep an eye out for stains, evident leaks, and any defective repair work. You should also examine the toilet for leaks or warping, especially at the base, and make sure it flushes correctly.

Water damage and mold on a green wall.
Water damage on a house’s walls can be difficult to detect at times, so look carefully.

Inspect the Pipes

Examine the pipes. Not only should you look for evidence of corrosion or other types of damage, such as worn connections or residue, but also find out what materials the pipes are composed of and what their sizes are. If the house is older, it may have lead pipes. Lead is a recognized poison that may contaminate the home’s water supply.

If the home contains lead pipes, get an estimate for the replacement cost and see if you can subtract the appraisal value from the selling price. In terms of pipe measurements, ensure that the pipes closest to the water source are at least three-quarters of an inch to one inch in diameter. The rest of the pipes throughout the residence should be at least half an inch in diameter. If the pipes are substantially smaller, they will cause reduced water flow and subsequent difficulties.

Grey pipes on a wall.
Inspect all accessible pipes to ensure they are free of corrosion or other obvious problems.

Inspect the House Water Heater and Pipe Isolation

Examine the home’s water heater. You’ll want to know whether it’s large enough to meet your requirements. There is nothing worse than overlooking this detail, yet it happens all the time. Next, you should check to see if there is a build-up in the water heater tank itself. Any kind of build-up in the heater can reduce the amount of space available for water. If there is less space in the heater tank, the tank won’t be able to heat as much water as it could if it had enough space. Corrosion of the tank’s elements may also shorten the tank’s lifespan.

This year’s winter may be behind us, but regardless of that, you should make sure that the plumbing throughout the house is ready for freezing temperatures. You can do this with good pipe isolation. The vents throughout the house should be the sort that can be turned off during wintertime.

Checks How the Sewage Is Handled

Another vital thing to do when you want to check the plumbing is to determine if the residence has a sewage system. More precisely, whether the waste is sent to a municipal sewer system or the house has a septic tank. Find out where the septic tank is situated on the property and how much sewage the tank contains. After this, you should also check where the pipes to the septic tank are located. If at all possible, you should ask to have a look at the schematics of the house. This will give you a better idea of the layout of the house’s septic tank and pipes. Inquire with the owner or seller about the last time they emptied or serviced it.

Look for evidence of seepage in the area where the tank is. In addition to that, look for standing water and foul odors. These signs are indicators of a septic issue. Septic tanks may be pretty costly to replace or repair, so if there is a problem, it must be rectified before finalizing the sale.

Don’t neglect the importance of a pre-move inspection

Move-in home inspections are a wide-ranging and delicate procedure. They are necessary because they let the buyer know about any defects and safety issues, predict their future expenses, and provide protection. And besides the plumbing, the house must have adequate insulation, a sound roof, foundation, up-to-code wiring, etc. No buyer wants to settle for less than what they’re paying for. So, if you do this before the relocation, you can rest assured that you are not getting a bad deal. Alternatively, learning whether there are any “deal-breakers” provides you with a powerful negotiating tool or an “out”.

A wrap-up

We hope that you will be able to complete at least one of these home inspection tasks. Now that you know how to check the plumbing before buying a house, you don’t have to rely solely on someone else to inspect these essential aspects of the property. This will bring you one step closer to moving into your new home with peace of mind.