Buying a House: How to Check the Plumbing

There’s nothing a plumber hates more than being the bearer of bad news. We would love to come into your brand new home and tell you that the plumbing has never been in better shape! Unfortunately, that rarely happens and both parties are left with a bad taste in their mouth. Finding out that your plumbing isn’t quite up to par after you’ve gone through the entire process of purchasing and moving in can be extraordinarily frustrating, but fortunately there are a few simple ways to make sure you don’t deal with it. We’re here to teach you how to check the plumbing when you’re in the process of buying a house!

If your realtor is awkwardly standing in front of the kitchen sink and doesn’t want to move, you might have a problem. You don’t have to start getting under the sink on the first walk through, but if you’ve decided that you’re genuinely interested in a home, schedule a time to check out the plumbing. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting a little gross in, and head over to take a peek.

You’ll want to start your inspection on the easier things, such as if a faucet is leaking. Look over all of the faucets and shower heads in the home. If they’re leaking, it is an easy repair… But it could have been leaking long enough to have caused extensive water damage. Leaks also tend to show that the homeowner isn’t putting serious work into the house and focused solely on cosmetic repairs – something that you want to avoid.

If all faucets look good and aren’t leaking, take a look underneath. Under all the cabinets should be clean, undamaged pipes. If you see any water drips underneath the sink, that’s a sign there’s a problem. Check out the fitting of the different connections. Everything should be tightly screwed in and ideally held in place by some plumbing tape. Cracked pipes are obviously a big no-no, so if anything is duct taped together, you’re in for a world of trouble.

No leaky faucets and no damaged pipes? Things are looking good. Your next step in checking the plumbing of a potential home would be to check that you could turn things off if needed. Water shut off valves are a surprisingly big thorn in every plumber’s side, as things can get really hairy really quick if they don’t work properly. Locate the water shut off valve (typically outside or under the sink) and turn it off. If the meter is still reading that water is circulating, there could be a leak somewhere you can’t see (such as under the home). If the meter isn’t reading that water is circulating, and your faucets aren’t pumping any water through, you’re good to go.

The last thing we recommend you check yourself before buying a house is the water heater. Unfortunately, water heaters aren’t bought it for life objects. They typically have a lifespan of about 10 years, and are prone to damage. Check out where the water heater is located first. Is it in a crowded storage room or its own utility closet? To reduce the risk of fire or undetected leaks, your water heater should be in an open space with nothing surrounding it. Take a look at the base of the tank and the pilot light. Is the light on? Good. Is the tank corroded in any way? Bad.

Of course, there’s no substitute for a professional inspection when it comes to purchasing your home. A house is a huge investment, and we always recommend being 100% certain that you won’t have any plumbing issues before you put your money down. A simple inspection by your self is fine to diagnose surface level problems, but there are plenty of things going on underneath or inside the walls that an expert will be able to detect and assess.

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