It is essential to have a first class operational plumbing system in your home. This premium plumbing system is crucial for the health, safety, and cleanliness of you and your family. Determining the condition of the plumbing system before handing over your hard-earned money and signing on the dotted line should be paramount in your thinking. As you perform your own inspection of the plumbing system, you will make notes of the various tasks you may have to perform if you purchase the home. Some of these tasks could be major causing it to be a deal breaker for you.
Of course, these items could be a negotiating tool for you to arrive at a reduced price for the home, leaving you responsible for the repair, or having the owner make the repair before closing. This inspection will help you decide whether the plumbing is too old and needs to be replaced, if there is a simple repair, or the plumbing is fine.
As a future homeowner, you realize sometime in the future you will have to repair a leaky faucet, clogs that back up the main drain, fix a toilet that’s not working, replace a water heater, etc. All of these things are normal being a homeowner. You will have to fix it yourself or hire a professional plumber.
WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM
Toxic Material of Pipes
The water supply system is provided by either a municipal water company, or a private underground well. No matter what type of system, check if there are any lead or galvanized pipes. Homes built before 1986 may have lead pipes with lead solder. The Drinking Water Act of 1986 prohibits use of lead material because of the many hazards that lead presents to the human body. Current plumbing systems are lead free.
If you are looking to buy a home built before 1930, have the water tested by a certified laboratory. Lead is an environmental toxin and if you have children, you may not want to live in a home with lead pipes.
Most plumbers use copper for hot and cold water pipes. But, in the last 10 years, more and more plumbers are using PEX, which stands for cross-linked polyethylene. Check if the local codes permit use of PEX piping.
If you have to change water piping in your house, talk to a licensed plumber to get the pros and cons of both products.
Water Supplied by Municipal Water Company
If the water comes from a municipal water company, a pipe enters the home from the water main usually in the street and passes through a meter, which tells the water company how much to bill you for the amount of water you use. This water main to the home should be 3/4” to 1” depending on how many fixtures are in the home. A branch line is taken from the water main to the hot water heater. The pipe leaves the hot water heater and parallels with the cold water pipe to the many fixtures and appliances in the home. Of course, some pieces of equipment only require a cold water pipe such as a toilet, ice maker, or hose bib.
The water pressure in the home is maintained by the municipal water company. The outlet pressure at each sink will vary if the aerators on the faucets become clogged. This is easily fixed by unscrewing and flushing the aerator. This usually solves the problem.
Water Supplied by Own Well
If the home you are looking to buy has a well, the water must be pumped up from the well into the home. There are many different types of pumps and setups for getting well water from the ground to the home. No matter what type of system, most well systems work similar.
The well pump removes water from the well and into a storage tank that has an internal bladder that compresses, enabling pressure to build up in the tank. At a predetermined setting, the pump turns off. This setting is usually 40-60 psi. As water is removed from the tank, through the use of faucets, toilets, washing machines, etc., the pressure drops to a preset level turning on the pump to raise the pressure once more.
A well must be frequently tested for bacteria, chemicals, mineral content, and lead. The local health department monitors well water and has certain criteria for water to be potable. Also, check with the local health department to determine how close a well can be to a septic system or chemical storage tank.
With a well system, the water pressure inside the home may vary the same as with a municipal water system. This could be caused by a high iron content causing parts inside faucets, valves, and pipes to become clogged.
Of course, the water pressure outside the home could drop because of a bad pressure switch, a bad bladder, or a problem with the well pumps.