Shopping For An Older Home? Watch For These 3 Signs Of Serious Plumbing Problems

20 February 2018
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Viewing homes to purchase is serious work, especially for buyers who are looking at homes built several decades ago. Often less expensive than newer ones, older homes can be an excellent way for buyers to get more for their money, but caution is necessary to ensure that any older home being purchased is in good condition and safe for occupancy.

While new or recently constructed homes are likely to have been built under some level of health and safety codes, homes built several decades ago probably were not. Older homes are also much more likely to have undergone extensive remodeling projects, with few or no inspections or permits to ensure that the work was completed correctly. Since many older homes have undergone remodeling to modernize their kitchens, add bathrooms, or laundry rooms, plumbing systems were often rerouted, extended, or updated and recognizing faulty or unsafe pipes and fittings is an important part of viewing these homes. 

Plumbing mazeg problems 

Older homes that have had multiple instances of plumbing renovations and repairs may have developed somewhat of a maze of plumbing pipes with dozens of fittings. Even worse is the fact that these plumbing mazes often have several different types and sizes of pipes in the mix. This means that instead of having the potential to develop leaks at just a few connections in the system, there may be dozens of connections with pipe reducers doubling the potential for leaks to develop. 

While some plumbing mazes may be hidden away behind bathroom or kitchen walls, they are often visible in older homes with unfinished basement spaces or accessible, heated crawl spaces under the house. When viewing homes, buyers should watch for plumbing mazes and if present, consider factoring the cost of a new plumbing system into any purchase offer they decide to make. 

Low water pressure issues 

Older homes often have plumbing pipes made from galvanized metal that corrodes over years of exposure to water. If the water pressure at faucets and toilets in an older home seems very low, corroded galvanized pipes may be at fault.

If previous owners have attempted solve a low water pressure problem by switching out some of the galvanized pipes for copper ones, it is important to make sure that dielectric couplings were used. If they were not, these connections could have even more corrosion clogging them up, due to the reaction of the copper to the galvanized metal. 

Since permanently solving this type of problem often means replacing most of the plumbing pipes and fittings in the home, prospective buyers who suspect this type of problem will want to make their offer contingent upon the results of a complete plumbing inspection by a qualified contractor. 

Sewer pipe problems 

Sewer issues have been a problem for many older home owners in the past. In many instances, this is caused by old-style drain pipes made from brittle materials, like clay. Heavy foot or vehicle traffic can cause these pipes to collapse or crack, creating clogs and sewer back up issues. 

In addition, mature trees and landscaping plants that are often found in the yards of older homes may have breached the interior of the pipes as their root systems expanded, causing cracks and clogs to form. 

Since most sewer pipes are underground, prospective buyers should begin by asking the sellers for information about the sewer lines, and any repairs or problems that have been noted during their ownership. 

It is also wise for buyers to discuss suspected plumbing issues with a reputable plumbing contractor in their area. This type of expert will be able to inspect the home's plumbing, determine what will need to be updated or repaired, and provide a bid amount that buyers can use when negotiating price with the seller. Click here, or on similar sites, for more info.