5 Plumbing Tips When Buying a House

So you’ve worked hard and saved you money, and now it’s time to buy the house you’ve been dreaming of. You love the house, but aren’t sure if the mechanical systems are up to date and in good working order. The last thing you want is to buy your dream house only to find out later down the road that you now need to dump thousands of dollars into the plumbing system. If your home inspector does their job well, they should be able to tell you prior to your final offer if there are any major plumbing concerns you should be aware of. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a basic knowledge yourself. Below are 5 important things that you can look out for when you walk through your potential new house.

1. Type of Water Pipe Currently Installed

There are many different typed of piping material that can be used today. More so, over the last 50 years some brands and types have come and gone. With the big box stores offering a wide variety of products today, you will want to make sure that the plumbing system is A) up to current code, and B), that the material used is CSA approved and installed correctly.

Be sure to do your due diligence as some brands are no longer legal and there are class action lawsuits out there against brands such as Kitec (read up on it here http://www.kitecsettlement.com).
Like Dekorte Plumbing Inc, most plumbing companies will do a visual inspection complete with a report and cost to bring the water delivery system up to current standards. If this is you, Please give us a call.

2. Water and Sewer Lines

All homes have a sewer line leaving the house and a water line entering the house. Some homes may have a third storm water drain as well. You want to make sure that these are in good shape and won’t be the source of problems in the near future.

The water line is relatively easy to find. It is the line that your main shut off valve for the entire dwelling is on. You’ll want to see a copper or plastic line no smaller in diameter than ¾”. Older homes may have ½” or 5/8” water lines and that is ok, it just means your water pressure may not be as good as it can be. One thing to watch for is lead. Older homes, specifically in Hamilton may have a lead water line feeding the home plumbing system. This is something you will want to discuss with your real estate agent about having corrected prior to buying.

To properly inspect the sewer and storm lines, an in pipe camera is recommended. We can run the camera up to 100’ to get a clear picture of the condition of the pipe. We can also tell you the depth and location it runs. This is a good information to know prior to purchasing as a new sewer or water line can cost thousands.

3. Hard Water Damage

Water hardness varies geographically, but it is almost always present to some degree. Homes in the Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge areas have particularly hard water. Regardless of where your potential new home is, you will want to make sure you know the hardness prior to purchasing.

If the area has hard water, make sure a water softener in installed. If it’s not, plan on getting one ASAP after moving in as it will drastically increase the life span and health of your entire plumbing system. An easy way to tell if the home has suffered hard water damage is to look at the aerators on the faucets ( where the water comes out). If hard water is present you will see a green/white residue of build up, indicating that hard water damage may already be present.

4. What condition are the Fixtures In?

Maybe you’ll be planning on renovating right away, in which case the plumbing fixtures may not be a concern for you. But if you hope to move in and enjoy the home right away, you’ll want to make sure that the toilets, faucets, tubs, and showers are in good working order.

Obvious signs of concerns will be visible such as chipped or cracked china, faucets with handles or other parts missing, toilets that are running, taps that are dripping, and so on. Most fixtures can be repaired, however it is sometimes more cost effective to replace if the fixture is quite old.

New toilets can use up to 77% less water than old toilets & new faucets can use up to 50% less water. Perhaps the pink bathroom fixtures aren’t exactly “your style”. Regardless of the reason, if you feel the plumbing fixtures look a little battered, a plumber can easily tell you the current condition and recommend solutions along with a budget. You’ll want to know this information prior to making your purchase.

5. What is the Age & Condition of the Water Heater

Your water heater is an essential part of your plumbing system. We all need hot water. A lot of people rent there water heaters and are in an agreement you’ll likely be offered to take over. This means you’ll pay your monthly fee and in return have free repairs and replacements in lieu of the rental fee. But this does not include the plumbing leading into and from the water heater.

You’ll want to make sure there is a mixing valve installed for the whole house (the dishwasher does not need to run through this) to prevent injury from hot water. You’ll also want to make sure the shut off valve feeding the hot water heater works in case of emergency.

We recommend determining the age of the hot water and discuss with you real estate agent if you need to be concerned with it’s age or not. If the home has a new tankless water heater, do your best to find out if it has been cleaned and flushed on a regular basis. Also do some research on the brand name as some don’t meet the quality standards of other.

We hope this blog has helped you with some questions and if you have any further questions or plumbing needs please give us a call.

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