Your home represents one of the biggest investments you will ever make. You need to carefully consider each potential purchase in New Westminster BC. Plumbing represents one of the most important items to consider, so let’s look at six essential items to consider when house hunting. These include checking for leaks on the faucets, shower heads, and toilets; checking for basement flooding or foundation dampness; the water heater condition; the water meter and supply; condition of the pipes; and water pressure in each plumbed room.
Check for Leaks in Faucets and Appliances
You probably notice if the kitchen or bathroom faucet leaks just by looking at it when you enter the room. You need to check under each sink, too, though to see if the pipe or drain leaks. Carefully check around the dishwasher and inside it for leaks or pooling water. Also, look at each of the toilets. Examine the base for leaks. If you see leak-evidence, also check the floor around it because a persistent leak could result in sub-floor damage. If the toilet rocks back and forth when you sit on it or touch it, it signals a leak at the base. In the laundry room, you need to check for leaks in the water line to the washing machine and any handwash sink. Check all of the outdoor spigots as well. Many people forget these and a leak can cause unwelcome foundation damage plus high water bills.
Basement and Foundation Dampness
In the basement and/or crawl space, check the ceiling for leaky pipes in the inside water lines. Also, closely examine this area for water damage or indicators of poor repair jobs. Look at the base of every wall. If there are boxes or other items against the walls, ask that they are moved so you can see the wall base. If you observe discoloration on the walls that look like a shadow or an area where the paint is darker, this signals water damage. Other signs include peeling paint, rotting wood, a chalky dusting on the walls. In the attic, look for dampness, mildew or moldy wood.
Water Heater Condition
The realtors or homeowners should be able to tell you the age of the water heater. The typical water heater lasts about ten years. Anything older than that needs replacing. Check it for leaks and check the lines running to it for leaks. Examine the flooring surrounding it to determine if a previous problem with a leak existed. Multiple leaks of corrosion or rust may signal a need for water heater replacement.
Water Meter and Supply
You probably have to wait until you plop down the earnest money for this step, but you need to check the water meter and its supply line for leaks. To do that, you have to conduct a four-step process.
1. Shut off the water supply.
2. Read the water meter.
3. Wait for one hour.
4. Read the water meter.
If the reading changed while the water supply was turned off, you have a leak. You need to have that fixed before moving into the home. If you cannot test this until you move into the home, you need to call a plumber immediately.
Condition and Materials of the Pipes
After the leak check, the two most important aspects of the pipe condition are their age and material. These water supply pipes cost a great deal to replace and would cost more than earnest money would cover. If the pipes are lead, they must get replaced. You could easily develop lead poisoning from drinking the water from them. If you find plastic or copper pipes, the house either just got built or the current owner already replaced them. Older homes may have galvanized steel pipes or cast iron pipes that you will need to replace. Consider it a red flag if you see a mixture of various pipe materials. That signals minimal repairs. Rarely, you will find polybutylene pipes. Made of flexible gray plastic, they were only installed from the 1970s to the 1990s since they were later found to erode when exposed to chlorine.
Test the water pressure by turning on all the faucets at one time. Low pressure might indicate pipe diameters that are too small. From the water source to your home 3/4” pipes should deliver the water while the lines to the faucets should be 1/2” or greater. Check the showers for water pressure, too. If you notice low pressure in the shower, but not in the sinks, check the showerhead for a low flow device. You can easily remove these to get a normal shower. Also, observe the faucets and showers for signs of rust in the water.
Considerations in Home Buying
A plumbing leak does not have to mean you won’t buy the house, but considering the home sales climate, it should make you pause and take a closer look at the home. Most home sellers go the extra mile to ensure their home’s condition improves before selling it. They do that before the home appraisal occurs in the buying process. They typically do it before listing the property with a realtor.
When you find leaks or water damage that indicates the home’s seller did not care for the property properly. This provides clues that you should look carefully at the rest of the house for other problems such as the furnace.
You may be able to obtain an estimate on the repairs before taking any further steps in the purchase. If they exceed the amount of the earnest payment, think twice or negotiate. You may be able to negotiate with the seller to lower the price of the home the amount of the repairs. That way, although you experience a little inconvenience when you first move into the home, you still do not have to spend anything more than the original planned cost of the home. Contact your realtor for help with this process.