Plumbing involves a lot more than fixtures. There’s a whole network of pipes and fittings inside walls and under floors. And that means there are plenty of opportunities for defects to creep up. Fortunately, home inspectors are skilled in defect detection. If there’s a plumbing issue such as one of these, expect to find it in your report.
#1: Missing or Damaged Vent Stack
If you’ve looked at a hundred roofs, you still might never have noticed a plumbing vent stack. It’s a nondescript pipe that penetrates the roof and singles and stands several inches above the roof line. Pro Plumbing says the pipe should be 3 inches diameter and project 6 inches from the roof line.
Vent stacks keep sewer gasses from entering the home and enable proper flushing and wastewater removal. Most homes have at least one. Larger homes might have several.
#2: Water Heater Installation Issues
Most people think very little about the water heater until there’s a leak or no hot water. A plumbing inspection can reveal issues that impair performance and indicate that repairs or replacement are needed.
The age and location of the water heater affect performance, as do water supply pipe materials. If it’s a gas model, your inspector will also look for gas leaks and proper ventilation to route carbon monoxide from combustion outdoors.
#3: Natural Gas Pipe Defects (They’re Plumbing, Too)
Natural gas lines throughout a home are part of a plumbing inspection. They may supply space heaters, wall-mounted “warm morning” heaters, water heaters, the dryer, kitchen range and the heating system.
An inspection can spot small leaks and larger ones, most of which require minor repair. It can detect corrosion, which impairs pipe and fitting integrity, as well as ventilation issues that need attention.
#4: The Presence and Scope of Leaks
For such an innocuous material, water can do a lot of damage. In most cases, a new leak is easy to clean up and requires a straightforward repair. Inspector Bob Price says even brand new homes aren’t immune. Longstanding leaks are another story.
Hidden leaks can warp and rot framing members and subfloors. They soak insulation, crumble particleboard and cause drywall to disintegrate. The sooner a leak is caught, the better.
#5: Whether or Not Toilets are Caulked
This might be a tricky issue because there are two distinct camps. Some plumbers swear that toilets always need a bead of caulk around the base. Others swear that caulk creates a seal that hides a leak, if one should happen, giving it the freedom and time to wreak serious structural havoc.
Regardless of where you stand, your home inspection will determine whether or not caulk is present. If not, you can always add it later.
#6: Damaged Plumbing Fixtures
Leaky faucets, cracked toilets, and corroded washing machine water supply handles give off a less-than-appealing vibe. Home inspectors test fixtures and look for evidence of damage so you’ll know what you need to replace.
In many cases, a simple repair restores leaky fixtures to good working order. Replacement is a better choice for cracked porcelain tubs, toilets, and sinks.
#7: Poor Waste Pipe Installation
Waste removal from the home depends on numerous factors working in concert. It needs the right pipe material in the right diameter installed in the proper location with the appropriate angles and the correct fall.
If there’s a 90-degree turn on a horizontal waste line just past the toilet, chances are your future will involve a plunger. It might be smart to hire a plumber who can start over from scratch.
#8: Evidence of Tree Root Damage
Slow-running drains might mean there’s a clog, but there’s another common culprit: tree roots. Although roots branch out as delicate fibers, they can work their way into fittings where they continue to grow. The next thing you know, there’s a broken main sewer line in your side yard.
Tree roots naturally grow toward a water source. If there’s a hint of a leak buried underground, a nearby tree will probably find it. If your inspector suspects root damage, you’ll need excavation and replacement.
Plumbing is one of those systems that you rarely consider until there’s a problem. Unfortunately, defects can interfere with everyday life, from laundry to cooking dinner to taking a nice, hot shower.
It’s better to find out now instead of an inopportune moment that your dream home’s water supply and waste removal need an intervention. Your home inspector helps you plan for the future. When you’re ready, Let us find a qualified home inspector near you.