Common Plumbing Issues Found By Home Inspectors

Common Plumbing Issues Found By Home Inspectors

In this article I point out some of the common plumbing issues found during a home inspection.

Before I go into the details, I’ll briefly explain why we need plumbing in our homes. Simply put, the plumbing system is designed to bring you clean water for domestic use and heat in several locations throughout the building. It is also designed to dispose of all waste, dirty water, and vent gasses left behind from your wastewater.

In order to find these problems, we look at a number of components within the plumbing system. They include supply piping, the water heater and water storage tank, sinks, tubs, showers, drains, vents, washbasins, toilets, fixtures and faucets. We also look at boilers, even though this topic tends to overlap into the heating inspection.

Older copper pipes can develop pinhole leaks within the home. They are tiny holes that develop in the pipes, causing them to drip wherever they occur. We find them anywhere the pipes are exposed, such as under sinks, crawlspaces, mechanical rooms, etc.  It is time to replace the section of pipe once this issue has been discovered.

The older a home is, the greater the possibility for plumbing issues. The reason for this is due to the age of the installed plumbing materials within and around the property. Like all things, old pipes and drainage assemblies tend to wear out and need replacement. Even in brand new homes, it is common to identify plumbing defects.

It is not uncommon to discover leaky faucets over sinks, in bathtubs, showers and below sinks. These issues can be repaired easily and will not cost too much.

Other problem areas include waste lines (large pipes that remove sewage and greywater from a building, followed by venting the gases produced by the waste). These issues may require easy repairs, such as replacing a drain trap or costly endeavors, such as replacing the plumbing itself.

Many sellers focus much of their effort on making the home look beautiful for resale. Although this is important, more attention to must be dedicated to maintaining their mechanical appliances, such as boilers and water heaters. We take a good look at the condition of these units because they are so important to the overall reliability of the plumbing system. Old and poorly maintained water heaters & boilers can be costly to replace.

Home inspectors also look for problematic, outdated plumbing materials, such as Polybutylene. It is light grey in colour. Polybutylene was common in the late 1980’s until the middle of the 1990’s. It is no longer used in modern plumbing as a result of its unpredictability for failing, most commonly at the fittings (connection points). When it fails, it can cause a flood and be expensive to repair.

Other plumbing issues commonly found during a home inspection include dripping faucets, leaking fixtures and slow drains. If you are planning to put your home on the market, I recommend that you take a look to see if there is any of these listed items and have them repaired. This is just one step to make your home selling experience a little bit easier. Let me know if you have any questions or on this topic or past articles.