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Uncovering Hidden Plumbing Problems

Buying a home is a big step in anyone’s life. There are lots of items that need to be independently checked and accounted for. Checking for potential plumbing problems in advance should be at the top of any new homeowners list. We’ve put together a list of things that you should be on the lookout for while you are shopping for a house.

Look for Water Stains

Water leaks leave clues. When you’re checking out a new home to purchase, be sure to check for water stains. You’ll find evidence of water leaks under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. It is also a good idea to take a thoroughly good look around the shower, tub, and toilet.

Look for water stains and soft spots on the bottom shelf of vanities, kitchen cabinets and the floor around toilets. Blistering paint on the bathroom walls and where the pipes enter the tub and shower enclosure can also be a telltale sign of water damage.

Look for stains on the ceilings under upper floor bathrooms. Always check out the floorboards in the basement under kitchens and bathrooms for staining.

Be on the lookout for mold and mildew. You can definitely smell it. Sometimes a homeowner will try to spruce up the place by covering over any imperfections with paint and new flooring. However, mold and mildew will grow under cabinets and floorboards in the dark areas where it has gotten wet.

Check the Water Pressure

Checking the water pressure in all the faucets and fixtures can give you a good idea how old the plumbing is in a home. Homes built before the 1960′s commonly were built with galvanized steel and cast iron pipes, and these will eventually start to build up scale and corrosion on the inside. If you do find copper pipes, be sure they continue throughout the home.
Often times homeowners will only replace pipes that have given them troubles, but will not go to the expense of replacing all the plumbing in the home at once. Connections to the old pipe with new copper lines need a special dielectric coupling. However, if the homeowner did the repairs themselves, they likely didn’t know this or install one. This will eventually cause a breakdown of the connection later on possibly causing other water damage in the process.

Check Water Drainage
Be sure to check how the water drains in the kitchen and bathrooms. Slow water drainage can be signs of more than just one clogged pipe. Old water drainage pipes can be very expensive to replace because they’re mainly located inside walls and floors without convenient access.

Often times replacing drainage pipes will require a carpenter, flooring professionals, new drywall and painters to make the repair complete. These additional materials and tradespeople can drive up the costs of the repair significantly, perhaps even doubling or tripling the initial estimated cost.

A Few More Tricks of the Trade

Like we said earlier, there’s a lot to consider when buying a home. Here are a few more easy checks you can do to avoid problems in the future.

a) Ask to see an old water bill. If the water bill seems unusually high, this could indicate a water leak somewhere in the system. If the leak isn’t detected inside the home, it could be in the water line between the house and the street. This kind of leak would require even more extensive and expensive repairs to correct. A professional plumber such as JMS Express Plumbing will be able to do a simple pressure test to help narrow down the culprit.

b) Check the age of the hot water heater. Water heaters have to be replaced periodically because they build up the scale from mineral deposits on the inside. Furthermore, if it's an older unit, it will likely be costing more in utilities to operate than a new energy-efficient model. Having JMS Express Plumbing install a new water heater is less expensive than you may think, and could save you far more than the cost of living with an old one.

It’s always wise to have a plumbing pro inspect your home before you buy. An inexpensive investment in an inspection could potentially save you thousands of dollars and millions of headaches.