There are a ton of things you need to look at when buying a new home and it is easy to overlook some problem areas.  One thing you DEFINITELY do not want to pass over is your plumbing!  By hiring an inspector you can identify problems to address before they cost you thousands of dollars down the road.

  1. Check the water meter and the main shut-off valve

If you are looking at a vacant home, check the water meter reading and make sure all of the water is turned off before you leave — including the icemaker. Then, make arrangements to come back the next day check the meter again. If the number has not changed, that’s a good sign that there are no leaks in your system. If it does change, that could mean a problem.

This is also a great time to familiarize yourself with the main shut off valve. If you ever experience any sort of plumbing emergency such as a burst pipe you’ll need to use that valve to make sure any damage you suffer will be minimized.  It is better to be overprepared than scrambling in case of an emergency.  

  1. Take a closer look at the water heater

Your water heater makes sure you can take hot showers and properly clean your clothes and dishes.  If it fails, you are looking at a messy and expensive fix.  To combat that make sure your plumbing inspection includes a close look at this appliance.

Most water heaters last about 8-12 years so check the stickers on the tank.  They should note the age of the appliance as well as any maintenance that has been performed.  Now look at the overall condition of the tank.  Is there any corrosion? Have mineral deposits accumulated at the bottom of the tank? Do you see any water sitting around the tank or staining that suggests leakage? If so you may want to insist on a new water heater or a discount and put in a new water heater yourself once you take possession of the property.

  1. Check the toilets

Flush each toilet in the home to make sure each one empties properly and fills correctly.  You don’t want toilets that run or take an hour to refill. Listen for any trickling noises or other indications there may be a leak.Check the base of each to see if there are signs of leaks.

If you are purchasing a home that has a septic system, check the tank of the toilet for any odors or leakage, which could be indicators that a major problem is imminent. Also, find out when the tank was serviced last and emptied last.  It is always a good idea to get a septic inspection since a new system will cost in the thousands, and it is better safe than sorry.   

  1. Double check for leaks

This is critically important, because even a relatively minor leak could turn into a major headache that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. Check all faucets as well as the shower to look for any signs that a leak is occurring. Feel under your sink to make sure it is dry and that the ground is solid. If it is squishy that could indicate a long leak and a large problem.  Your plumber should also check the supply lines to the refrigerator icemaker to see if there are any bulges or signs of wear. If there is an issue, have the line replaced with a copper line for increased durability.

  1. Look up!

If you have a second story or a basement, look up at where your kitchen and bathrooms are.  Check for signs of earlier repair like patched drywall or mismatched paint. Look  for staining and warping that would indicate a current leak and have those areas investigated.

These are just a few steps you can take to help make sure your new home’s plumbing system will provide you with years of hassle-free operation. If there have been any major recent repairs, ask if they are still covered by a warranty and who performed the work. Of course, it is always best to have a professional check, but hopefully this checkpoint can help you navigate inspecting your home and save you from costly repairs down the road.