(Updated Sept. 9, 2022)

Buying a new home is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first home or your forever home, you want to make sure you know exactly what you’re walking into. A home plumbing inspection checklist is a great way to get an overall look at the condition of your next home.

Certified home inspectors look at the entire home, but they aren’t necessarily going to find everything. They can check the water pressure, make sure the hot and cold water supply lines are properly hooked into fixtures, and flush the toilets. But they have no way of knowing the condition of the entire plumbing system.

Overlooked plumbing problems may manifest themselves later as low water pressure, poor drainage, and leaks. These issues can potentially cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. That can really put a crimp on the finances as you try to manage a new mortgage, insurance, and other costs.

Use the following home plumbing inspection checklist to determine for yourself the state of your future plumbing. You won’t have the expertise of a professional like Meticulous Plumbing, but you can visually inspect the home. Try to look beyond the cosmetic – fixtures are easier to switch out than a whole-home repipe.

Home Plumbing Inspection Checklist

Here are the things you should look for when looking for a home to buy. These issues don’t necessarily mean you shouldn;t buy the house, but they will need to be taken care of:

  • Do the pipes contain lead? Lead is an environmental hazard and Portland has recently had problems with lead-in-water levels in some of its schools. You can read more about how to test for lead in water. Older homes may have lead or galvanized plumbing, so keep this in mind when considering home prospects.
  • Where is the water meter? Locate the water meter and determine whether the main shut-off valve to the home’s water supply is in working condition. In an emergency, it’s vital to know where to shut off the water lines (including fixtures). You can learn more about locating shutoff valves in our earlier blog post.
  • Is the water heater in good shape? This piece of equipment provides hot water for your whole family, so size is a priority – make sure it holds an appropriate amount of water. Location is important – a water heater hidden in a crawl space is hard to inspect and maintain. A water heater should last for about ten years–You can request that the owners install a new heater as part of the purchase agreement if the existing unit is on its last legs.
  • Does the home connect to a municipal sewer line or a septic system? Find out whether the wastewater goes to Portland’s municipal sewer system or to a septic tank. If your home is equipped with a septic tank, find out where it’s located and when it was last emptied and serviced. Leakage or odor surrounding the septic tank is evidence of a septic problem and should be addressed and resolved before signing any contracts.
  • Are the pipes insulated? Freezing pipes can cause many issues for Portland-area homeowners, including pipe breakage, leaks, and stopped water. To prevent this, look for a home in which the vents throughout the residence can be closed off during times of intense cold. Having pipes wrapped will also keep them from freezing–make sure that you require this service prior to purchase.
  • Have leaks caused water damage? Make sure that your kitchen and bathroom faucets, toilet, and shower are in good working condition and that there’s no water leaking. Look at the floors around fixtures, cabinets under the sinks/garbage disposal, and toilets. Does it feel soft or warped or does the toilet move if you attempt to rock it?

More Plumbing Questions When Buying A Home

More general questions can give you additional information about the home you’re looking at. These questions shouldn’t be an issue for the homeowner or realtor to answer. Deal-breakers? Could be depending on the answers, but there are always repairs that can be made (for a price).

  • How old is the plumbing: Old pipes aren’t necessarily bad pipes, but the older they are, the closer they are to the end of their operational lifespan. Make sure you have a home inspector or a plumber check for rusty and/or corroded pipes, especially with galvanized pipes. Older homes are likely to have older water pipes, which can affect water pressure. You can also check the age of the fixtures.
  • May I check the water meter: This can help determine if the home has a leak. By checking to see if the meter has changed during a time when you’re certain that no water fixtures are running in the home. If the meter is turning when there’s no water running, then your potential new home may have a leak somewhere.
  • Related Questions: Are there eco-friendly, water-saving appliances and faucets installed? Have the toilets been fitted with low-flow options? Is there any mold or water damage, do the pipes freeze in the winter, and have they been winterized? These are all valid plumbing questions to ask a homeowner.
  • Are there any backflow or cross-connection issues: Backflow is what happens when we leave a hose or other water source in the pool, laundry, or sink water. This can cause dirty water to back-up into your clean water supply. The related cross-connection “is a link or structural arrangement where potable water in a distribution system can be exposed to unwanted contaminants.”
  • Has the main water line been inspected: Once again, a professional plumbing inspection can determine how stable and sturdy the main water line to the home is. A faulty main water or sewer line can lead to clogged drains, backups, and expensive fixes. Finding out about tree roots now can save headaches later.

Work with a local home plumbing inspection expert

If the home inspection is less than perfect, or you have deeper questions about the condition of the plumbing in an older home, it doesn’t hurt to call a plumber and have a pro look it over. Identifying and addressing plumbing problems before your home purchase is essential to avoid expensive repairs later.

By requesting necessary repairs prior to closing the deal, you ensure that you and your family move into a home that is safe, secure, and ready for you. Although you should always have a contingency fund for a new home, repiping an entire home is not something you typically think about.

Getting ready to buy a home and want to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into? Contact Meticulous Plumbing for an in-depth look at the plumbing. We have the experience, the resources, and the tools to give the pipes, wastewater lines, and water mains a thorough examination. Let’s make sure the home of your dreams doesn’t end up being a nightmare.

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