When you’re buying a house, there are a lot of things to consider. You have to get the inspection done, make sure everything is up to code, figure out which repairs the current owners will need to make before the sale, and negotiate the mortgage process. In all this chaos, it can be easy to forget to ask about the plumbing.
But knowing the right plumbing questions and answers you need can save you a lot of money in repairs. Read on to learn more about what questions you should be asking before you sign any mortgage papers.
1. Has the Sewer Line Been Replaced?
One of the first questions you should ask when buying a home is if the sewer line has been replaced. In the old days, these lines were made of clay tile or cast iron piping. But over time, these lines can wear out and become vulnerable to tree roots and leaks.
If the current homeowner says the sewer line has been replaced, ask how recently. If it hasn’t, request a camera inspection of the line. You want to look for any signs that there are tree roots or leaks in the line and that there aren’t any clogs causing problems in the line.
2. Has the Exterior Water Line Been Replaced?
Aside from the exterior sewer line, you also need to check on whether the lines that supply water to the house have been replaced since the original construction. Lead piping was common in water lines in older homes, so it’s crucial that you make sure these have been replaced. Lead poisoning can be incredibly dangerous for you and your family.
But even if the pipes aren’t made of lead, they may still need to be replaced. Galvanized pipes made of iron and coated with a layer of zinc were common in older constructions, and they tend to spring leaks after a few decades. You might also have polybutylene, a material popular in construction from the 1980s and 1990s that was the subject of a class-action lawsuit that proved the pipes were defective.
3. Have the Interior Water Lines Been Replaced?
Making sure your exterior water lines have been replaced is important, but making sure the interior water lines are intact is crucial. Not only could you risk the personal dangers from lead pipes, you could also risk damage to your house if these pipes have sprung a leak. If the current owners haven’t recently replaced the interior pipes, there are a few things you can look for that can indicate leaks or water damage.
Look for soft spots in the floor around sinks, toilets, and other water sources in the house. On the pipes you can see, check for discoloration, rust, and corrosion. Water stains on the walls or ceilings can also be an indicator that the interior pipes have begun to break down somewhere.
4. Do the Pipes Freeze in Winter?
Depending on where you live, one of the things you need to be aware of is if the pipes tend to freeze in the winter. Frozen pipes can burst, which sends water geysering out into your house, an experience no one wants to have. And running the hot and cold water lines all winter is not a good option, since it makes for cold showers and dishwasher cycles.
If the homeowners say they have had problems with pipes freezing in the winter, ask how they’ve thawed them in the past. You can buy heating tape to wrap your pipes in beneath the insulation to keep them from freezing. But you should be aware that this will drive your electricity bills up in the winter.
5. How Old Is the Water Heater?
When you’re considering the plumbing of an older house, don’t forget about the water heaters. Most tank-style water heaters will last about a decade, give or take a couple of years. And you don’t want to exhaust your savings buying a house only to discover six months later that you have to replace the water heater.
If the current homeowners have a tankless water heater, it will have a bit longer lifespan. If that has been installed within the last twenty years, you should be fine. But if either of those appliances is pushing their lifespan, it may be worth seeing about having them replaced before you move in.
6. Does the Basement Flood?
If the house has a basement, it’s a very good idea to check if the basement floods. Even if the basement isn’t finished, a flooded basement is not something you want under your home. It can become a breeding ground for insects and pests and could indicate foundation problems.
If the current owners tell you the basement doesn’t leak, you should ask if they have a sump pump. If they do, ask how long ago it was installed or replaced. Sump pumps have an average life expectancy of about a decade, so, like the water heater, you don’t want them to go out ten minutes after you sign the mortgage papers.
7. Does the Home Have a Water Softener?
If you live somewhere with a high mineral content in the water, you may want to check if your future home has a water softener. These filters can help to remove minerals and other hard water materials from water before it enters your home. This can help prevent hard water stains on your fixtures and increase the lifespan of your clothes and dishes.
If having soft water is important to you, make sure the home has a water softener and check on when it was last replaced. These systems can last about fifteen years before they’ll need replacing.
Discover More Plumbing Questions and Answers
When you’re buying a house, knowing the right plumbing questions and answers can save you a lot of money. You don’t want to get two weeks into buying the house and discover that the basement toilet is constantly overflowing because the sewer line is full of tree roots. Make sure to check on when all plumbing systems were last replaced and look for signs that they may have damage.
If you’d like to make sure your plumbing systems are up to scratch, check out the rest of our site at Beehive Plumbing. We provide residential and commercial service done right every time. Book an appointment now and get your home’s systems in good working order.