Tips: Check plumbing carefully before purchasing a home
While most home buyers cite
location, price and school system as their primary considerations, prospective
purchasers should be aware of potentially costly plumbing problems, which
often surface after a family has settled into a new home. A recent study found
that as many as 44 percent of consumers call a plumber within a year of
purchasing a home.
The average home plumbing system represents approximately 8 percent of a home's
value, so the plumbing in a $200,000 home is valued at $16,000. To help avoid
costly problems, the experts at Roto-Rooter, North America's largest provider
of plumbing and drain cleaning services, recommend watching for telltale clues
when shopping for a home:
- Straddle toilets and rock back and forth on each foot. If the floor
feels spongy, it probably has water damage.
- Slow flushing toilets may indicate water pressure problems or partially
- Press on the walls where tiles meet the tub. If they're soft or loose,
water damage has occurred behind the tiles.
- Turn on the water in the bathtub then the kitchen sink. If there is a
noticeable reduction in volume, pipes may be partially clogged by
- Check pipes in basements and crawl spaces for rot, mildew or signs of
leaks and recent repairs.
- Make sure the house has an accessible main sewer "cleanout" port.
- Water heaters over 15 years old should be replaced. The first four
digits of the heater's serial number represent the month and year of
- Make sure the gas water heater vent is a "class B chimney" or at least
6 inches away from wood.
- Make sure water appliance hoses have a good seal and aren't cracked or
- Check for water damage inside cabinets beneath sinks. Turn water supply
valves on and off to test for leaks.
- Marshy spots or areas of especially green grass in the front yard
indicate possible breaks in water or sewer pipes.
- A 1000-gallon septic tank for a household of four should be pumped at
least every five years.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.