If you’ve ever watched the movie “The Money Pit,” then you may well know the dangers of not fully vetting a new home before making a purchase. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s a classic Tom Hanks comedy about a couple that finds a deal on a home that’s too good to be true, but buy it anyways—much to their later regret.
In one famous scene, Tom Hanks’ character is pouring water into the upstairs bathtub (from a bucket because the plumbing’s busted) and the added weight of that water causes the tub to fall through the floor, creating a gigantic hole.
While most homes won’t have plumbing problems as severe as the mansion from the movie, it does highlight an important lesson: ALWAYS check the plumbing BEFORE you buy your dream home.
Although we here at Express Sewer & Drain strongly recommend having a full professional inspection done prior to signing the mortgage/lease, there are three plumbing features that you can check yourself.
The Water Faucets, Toilets, and Other Water-Dispensing Fixtures Throughout the House
Every faucet, shower head, and toilet should be tested before you go and buy a home. If these fixtures don’t work, then there may be a severe problem.
Of course, this assumes that the water to the building is on. Some real estate agencies may shut off the water to the building until an offer is made. However, this can cause other complications later.
If the water is off, see if you can get the real estate agent to turn it back on so you can test the home’s fixtures.
When checking these fixtures, be sure to watch for:
- Low/sporadic water pressure
- Discolored water
- Slow drains
- Foul odors
If the water was off and just turned back on, there may be some low water pressure and sediment at first. Run each fixture for several minutes and see if the problem persists.
The Water Heater
Another critical fixture to check is the home’s water heater. There are many different kinds of water heater on the market, such as tankless water heaters, natural gas heaters, electric, etc. This can complicate the process of inspecting the water heater.
Some common elements to check are the water connections going from the main to the heater, and the heater to the home. If the pipes are worn, corroded, or leaking, they may need replacement.
Also, check the area around the water heater. Is it clear of obstructions? Or, are there potential hazards resting against the heater? How easy is it to access the heater?
Model-specific features, such as the pilot light of a gas heater or the hot water tank, may be best inspected by a professional.
The Water Shutoff Valves
Some home plumbing problems in the future may require you to turn off the flow of water to a specific room for a while so you can remove and replace a pipe. When this happens, it’s absolutely vital to have shutoff valves that work.
Most homes will have shutoff valves for each major water-using room in the building, and a shutoff valve between the water meter/street main and the home itself. Check each of these valves by turning them off and checking the corresponding water fixtures they serve. If water still flows through a fixture that’s been cut off, then you may have a problem with your valve.
Also, if you shut off the water to the house and the meter still moves, then there may be a major leak in the water lines outside the house which needs to be fixed.
Taking the time to run these basic checks and having the seller fix them before you sign the lease or mortgage can help keep your dream home from becoming a living nightmare.
Don’t let your new home purchase become an echo of “The Money Pit,” get a full sewer inspection done by a professional before you buy!