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Congratulations on buying a new home! A house is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your life and the place where you can raise a family and make a lifetime of wonderful memories.
However, if you don’t have a proper home inspection, including having a plumber do a complete inspection of your house, from the water main to the kitchen sink, you may end up with a lifetime of unpleasant memories, and ongoing repair bills, flooded basements, and clogged drains. At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, our techs have seen it all – and then some. Here are 5 of the most common things that come up for new homeowners, and 5 things a great plumber will look for as they complete your home inspection.
Let’s start at where your home meets the outside water main and work our way forward.
Sewer and Water Lines
The sewer and water lines for your home split off from the water main that your municipality manages, and sewer lines that drain wastewater and transport it to the treatment plant. These sewer and water pipes run underground, through your yard and into your basement, typically where your water heater is or near a ground floor bathroom.
Your plumber will examine the condition of the pipes using a small camera in a filament that travels through the water and sewer lines, looking for worn spots, clogs, or places where the seams seem weak. It’s critical that your sewer lines are inspected, as a leak or backed up pipes can bring toxic wastewater into your home. Leaks outdoors are noticeable; they’ll create soft spots or sinkholes in the lawn.
Crawl Space and Basements
Many sewers and water line leaks are noticeable first in the crawl space and basement. You may notice a smell of wet newspapers in these spaces, which indicates mildew and mold forming. A plumber will check for signs of excess moisture in the walls and mildew formation. If the walls are damp or there’s water seeping from the floor drains, you may have blockages or leaking pipes.
Many newer homes have tankless water heaters, which are less likely to leak and damage your house. If you are purchasing a home with a tankless heater, you’ll still need to have it inspected, both to check the water lines leading from it and the heating elements within the unit.
Both tankless and traditional water heaters need to have the thermostat inspected for functionality, too.
For traditional, or “tanked” water heaters, there are more chances for leaks. The interior of the tank can wear down and form small pinholes, where water can seep out. Often, homeowners don’t even notice the leaks, because the surface of the tank is hot enough to evaporate the water droplets. By the time there are noticeable leaks on the tank of the water heater, it’s a big enough repair that you may even need emergency plumbing service.
Other things your plumber may check on the water heater is whether the unit is large enough for your family’s use. A household of 2 will use much less hot water than a household of 4-6, and if the home you’re buying has a smaller unit, about 23-25 gallons, you may wish to upgrade to a larger unit in order to ensure that you don’t run out of hot water.
Supply Pipes and Drains in Each Room
From the water heater, pipes begin to split off into the different rooms of the home. Your plumber will follow each pipe, usually using their camera and a monitor, to examine the condition of each pipe. For older homes, they will also check the material of the pipes, looking for lead pipes that may cause health issues.
They will also look for clogs in each pipe. If there are multiple clogs, ask for the seller to hire an expert to professionally clean them before closing, as clogs can cause backed up drains and ruin your plumbing fixtures.
Your plumber will also check the condition of each water line and may check the water lines leading to each appliance, too, to ensure that back-ups or leaks won’t damage an expensive piece of equipment.
Toilet, Sinks, and Showers
Finally, it’s time to check the condition of your porcelain fixtures and sinks.
In the kitchen, it’s important to look for clogs at the P-Trap part of the sink. This is the U-shaped bend of the drainpipe right underneath the sink, and a place where food and cooking grease clogs often form. Once again, the camera comes out, as things like coffee grounds, large food chunks, and cooled fat from browning meat cause clogs.
Ask your plumber to check the water pressure in the shower, too, even if you’re planning to replace the showerhead. While they may be able to adjust the pressure in some homes, in other areas, you may be unhappy with a weak trickle when you’re used to a tsunami in the mornings. Next comes a check of the shower drain, too, for hair clogs, and make recommendations to prevent these in the future.
The faucets on each sink are inspected, too, with the plumber checking for drips or loose handles.
In the toilet, they should check that it has enough water force to flush properly and check the sewer pipes leading form it for clogs caused by “unflushable” items like feminine care products, baby wipes, or condoms. They’ll also check the condition of the flapper, to ensure that you won’t have a toilet that “runs” and wastes water.
Hire a Professional Plumber Before Buying a House
At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, we train all our plumbing technicians to thoroughly inspect each home before completing a plumbing repair. They’re also trained to determine where leaks come from and when a plumbing fixture needs to be replaced and when it can simply be repaired. We’re uniquely qualified to inspect your home before closing. Give your local bluefrog Plumbing + Drains a call or visit us online to book your plumbing inspection today!