What should be included in your home plumbing inspection checklist? Having a plumbing inspection done is one of the preventative measures every homeowner should take to help ensure the safety of their families as well as to head off any potential plumbing problems.
This is especially true if you live in a much older home. We all love older homes because of the character that they possess but with that often comes some unwelcomed surprises. Here are the minimum things we recommend you include in your plumbing inspection checklist.
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Hot Water Heater
One of the first things you should have inspected is the hot water heater. It should be big enough to accommodate the needs of your entire family. A 40-gallon tank will work for the average family of four.
If possible, check for any buildup of minerals inside the machine itself. You should also check for any existing leaks.
Gas and fire water heaters are required to be on an 18-inch noncombustible stand. It can be in a metal pan or it could be sitting on 5/8 inch fire retardant drywall.
As of July 2003, if you live in California, all water heaters are required to be seismic strapped. It must have a strap across the top and bottom third of the water heater.
The seismic straps (earthquake straps) are designed to keep the water heater in place in the event of an earthquake as it will provide the homeowners with sustainable water for 5 days.
Finally, inspect the water heater for any signs of corrosion. Most water heater problems can be solved very easily but corrosion shouldn’t be overlooked since it can cause major damage. Also, keep in mind that water heaters only last from 8 -10 years depending on use, quality of water and maintenance.
Lead or Polybutylene Pipes
Pipes don’t last forever, they rust, decay and become corroded over time. If you doing a home plumbing inspection pipes are one thing you want to add to your checklist. You may have a leak somewhere that ends up spewing water or raw sewage into your home causing very expensive water repair damage.
If your existing plumbing includes either lead or polybutylene pipes you want to consider having them replaced right away even if they aren’t leaking.
Although lead pipes used at the turn of the century have a life expectancy exceeding 100 years they can leak harmful lead into your tap water causing serious health hazards.
Polybutylene pipes were extremely popular in the 80’s and 90’s. “Polyb”,as it’s often called, was supposed to be the next big thing because there was no soldering involved and it’s flexible.
Polyb is prone to leakage and no longer being manufactured.
Faucets, Sinks and Toilets
All faucets, sinks, and toilets need to be inspected to make sure there are no leaks or drips. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a leaky faucet that drips only at a rate of one drop per second will waste upwards of 3,000 gallons of water per year.
To put this into perspective, that’s the equivalent of you being about to take 180 showers with the same amount of water being wasted.
You’ll also want to test the water’s flow because this may also be an indicator that there’s a problem with your plumbing system. Does the water drain down the sink without any delay?
Checking the water meter is an easy way to see if you might have a slab leak. Make sure all water is turned off. Now look at the meter, if there’s a leak somewhere the water meter’s dial will be turning. Be sure to check every valve in the house to be certain that everything is working properly.
If you include the above areas in your home plumbing inspection checklist you will have covered 90% of where most plumbing problems might occur.
For a very thorough plumbing inspection you might also add these to your list:
- Inspection of basement drainage and crawl space for any signs of plumbing leaks.
- If your property uses a septic system then you’ll want to have the septic tank inspected.
- Inspect all outdoor taps, faucets and sprinkler systems.
- A sewer camera inspection of your storm and sanitary systems
As you may have realized by now, performing a thorough plumbing inspection is a very involved process. Hiring a professional plumber is strongly advised so that you can make sure everything is handled properly.