The year 2020 proved to be unprecedented in a variety of ways. Among historical presidential elections and a worldwide pandemic, another interesting occurrence was the boom of the housing industry. Record-low interest rates and an increase in the number of buyers caused the market to surge. We are now headed into the spring 2021 homebuying season. Experts predict the market will continue to remain strong. More people work virtually now and need additional space and those who delayed purchasing last year are now committed to buying. With the limited supply of available homes and an increase in buyers, potential homeowners are often waiving appraisals or inspections to secure contracts while among several other bids. This aggressive tactic may prove successful, but it comes with risk. Major house systems and structures, such as the plumbing system, roof, and HVAC, should be looked at carefully before any purchase decision (waived inspection or not). Issues with these items can result in major disasters down the road.
Especially with plumbing, some issues may not occur in plain sight. However, there are several things to note as your shop for homes this spring to save you future headaches.
Some of the easiest items to check before offering on a home are the age, size, and condition of the existing water heater. Water heaters don’t last forever. Depending on the type, you’re likely to get 10-20 years out of them. Once in your inspection period, it’s best to have a professional plumber come to assess the condition of the water heater in addition to the rest of the plumbing system. But, if you are still trying to decide whether or not to make an offer, there are some things you can note by simply viewing the water heater yourself.
Serial numbers on water heaters should give you the approximate age, which is one of the most telling indicators of how many years you have left with it. Listen for any unusual sounds coming from the heater when it kicks and assess the tank, checking for any existing leaks. Additionally, inspect the area around the water heater. You want to ensure that if the tank does eventually leak, the damage will be limited. Lastly, check out the size of the tank. Correct sizing of the water heater in your home means you will have hot water when needed and that the heater will be as energy-efficient as possible. If the existing heater doesn’t meet your needs, it likely needs to be replaced before moving in.
If the water heater needs replacing within the first year or two of homeownership, that needs to be considered when making your offer.
Faucets/Sinks and Toilets
The condition of faucets and toilets should also be properly inspected by a professional once under contract. However, before offering on a home, there are a few things you can do to assess the general condition yourself.
As you view a potential home, turn on the faucets to check the water pressure and how well water drains into the system. Look for any rust in the water, which potentially signifies corrosion in the pipes. Additionally, flush each toilet in the home to ensure they function normally. Issues with water draining may signify problems in the main sewer line, which would need to be investigated via a pipe camera inspection by a plumber.
When performing each of these checks, look for any leaks under or around each fixture. While possibly minor, neglected leaks existing for some time may have also caused damage to the flooring and/or subfloor.
Water Meter and Main Shutoff Valve
Inspecting the water meter may be difficult during an open house. But, if you have a private viewing, take the opportunity to do so. By looking at the water meter, you can identify potential leaks in the system. Water meters should actively turn when you switch on faucets or showers. However, check what happens once you switch all of these off. If you notice the water meter continues to turn, there may be a leak.
Lastly, you want to be sure and check the main shut-off valve for the home’s water supply. When you close this valve, there should be no water dripping or flowing from the fixtures in the home. If this isn’t the case, the main valve has a fault and likely needs replacing.
Professional Plumbing Inspections from Flotechs
Whether this is your first home or your tenth, only a plumbing professional can perform a true assessment of the condition of the plumbing system. Performing the checks above may save you from offering on a house with major plumbing issues. However, bringing in a professional once under contract is equally as important. Some problems don’t present themselves to the untrained eye until it is too late. Additionally, a professional can identify any building violations committed by the previous owners which need addressing.
At Flotechs Plumbing and Heating, our professionals come equipped with top-notch training and tools. With these, we can properly assess the condition of your plumbing system. We can then develop a plan for remediating any present issues. If you need a prompt, professional plumbing inspection for your new home this spring, contact us today!