Old houses offer some amazing exhibitions of craftsmanship and character, which is why some people are drawn to older homes when they begin their search for a house to buy. However, older homes can bring problems, like sketchy renovation reports, old windows, or poor structural condition. One of the most expensive problems can be poor or incorrect plumbing. If you are set on buying an older home, you need to know what warning signs indicate expensive plumbing repairs. Here are some things to look for:
- Mold. Mold can sometimes just be the result of high humidity, but mold often grows in specific areas because pipes are not properly ventilated or because the pipes have slow leaks that are never able to fully dry, resulting in mildew and eventual rot. If mold only occurs in a few localized spots, the leaks could be a cheap and easy fix, and help you to justify a lower asking price. But, if mold is widespread or covers a large area in a bathroom or kitchen, factor in the cost of extensive plumbing repairs and mold remediation.
- A toilet that frequently backs up or drains that gurgle and run slowly. Test toilets in homes that you tour by flushing them with toilet paper, and run the sinks to see how quickly they drain. If the toilet has trouble flushing, it is a sign that the main sewer line is clogged or damaged by tree roots. Both of these things are very costly to repair, as they require excavation and sometimes complete replacement. Have an plumbing inspection determine the cause of the backed up drains before you purchase the home, as these issues may not be caught be a routine home inspection, especially if they are caused by a septic tank problem.
- Old pipes. Check the renovation reports for the home. If the plumbing has not been updated since it was first installed, you should make sure it was well-maintained. Well-maintained pipes can last up to 100 years, but with hard water and frequent use, the lifespan can decrease. You don't want to face a whole-home replacement soon after your purchase your older home, unless you were planning on extensive renovations that would require plumbing replacement anyway. If you are planning on replacement, use the age of the system to justify saving some money on the offer you put in on the home.
- Levels of toilet water that rise and fall, or air bubbling up from the drains or out of the taps. This is a sign that the pipes are not properly vented. Venting is necessary to establish good, consistent flow in the plumbing system. Water pressure also depends partially on properly vented plumbing pipes. This issue is costly to fix because it usually requires opening up the walls to examine and replace/remedy the pipes that are the issue. Venting can also be disturbed by clogs in the pipes; these can also be a struggle to fix if walls need to be opened and replaced in order to repair them.
- Visible rust or corrosion on metal pipes. Metal pipes last longer than PVC pipes when they are cared for properly, but they can also corrode and rust, leading to leaks and making them difficult to replace as the pipe threads begin to dissolve. Look underneath the sinks for signs of corrosion on older copper piping, and check the water heater for visible rust.
Your home inspection should bring some plumbing issues to the surface, but be sure to keep both eyes open as you look for a home to buy, because some "minor" problems could means some major financial losses for you. For more tips, contact a company like A Absolute Plumbing & Heating.