Plumbing Features to Check Before Buying a Home


Most home buyers these days wouldn’t think twice about getting a general home inspection before closing on their purchase.  These inspections are prospective home buyers’ insurance for discovering existing and potential problems with a property. But, most home inspectors fail to inspect one key feature that can turn into a critical and costly mistake, and that’s a home’s sewer line.  

In general, home inspections include reports on the overall framing or structure of a home, roofing, building envelope, electrical systems, mechanical and, yes, plumbing systems.  The goal is to identify issues that require repair or replacement price adjustments during negotiations. But, while an inspection report may note a dripping faucet, they rarely go beyond that to seek out any underlying causes of the problem.

Sometimes, plumbers are called in to do a more thorough follow up inspection, however, this usually happens after buyers close on a home.  And, if you’re ordering this follow up inspection after purchasing, it may be too late. That’s why it’s always important to inspect all of a home’s plumbing features before you buy.  Too often, new homeowners have to hear the bad news that their seemingly perfect new dream home actually comes with potentially disastrous and costly plumbing issues.

Sure, each home’s plumbing system can have its own issues.  But, the single most important plumbing feature that you should have checked before you close on a new home is the main sewer line.  

The Main Sewer Line

After you’ve spent weeks, months, even years searching for your perfect home, let’s say you find one you’re ready to close on.  So, you go through a basic home inspection, receive mostly good news except for those leaky pipes, and you move in. But, you only conducted a general inspection and didn’t call a plumber in for a follow-up inspection on those leaky pipes until after you got all settled in.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, imagine you start to notice a funny smell coming from your basement.  Then you start to notice that your toilets are running slower and are making strange gurgling noises.  Eventually, you can’t even flush the toilets, and brackish water begins to backflow onto your basement floor.  So, you call in your trusty plumber who has to tell you that your new home has a stopped sewer line. Now, they just have to find out where the blockage is coming from.  

As our scenario continues, let’s say that your plumber has discovered that the blockage in your sewer line is due to a massive root intrusion from a tree in your yard.  Worse, the root is discovered to have strangled the pipe, causing it to burst wide open. Because of this burst line, you’re now seeing sand and sludge seeping in and out of your home’s sewer lines.  Now what?

Unfortunately, if a blockage occurs on your side of a property line, it’s your responsibility to fix the problem, not the city’s.  This is your worst-case scenario and why you should always have a plumbing inspection done before you close on a property!  Once you sign those papers, you are officially responsible for all of this mess including all of the costs associated with digging up and replacing the entire sewer line (if necessary).  And, sewer issues can cost homeowners upwards of $20,000 to fix!

Conduct a Plumbing Inspection

While to some a follow up plumbing inspection may seem like just another check they have to write before they’ve even decided to purchase a home, the truth is that it’s absolutely necessary and will save you in the long-run.  Remember, if the general home inspection report shows signs of pipe clogging, they’re clogging for a reason. And, that reason won’t always be obvious.

That’s why you really need to call in a professional plumber to perform a camera inspection on the main sewer line of a home you’re interested in purchasing.  Just imagine how much money and grief you could save yourself in our above-mentioned scenario had you known about these issues before you closed and took responsibility for the home and all of its systems.  You just can’t always be certain of a home’s history or underlying issues, as often the original homeowners may not even know themselves. But, a simple camera inspection could make you aware of any hidden and costly problems before you make your final decision.  

If problems are found during a plumbing inspection, you can actually use them to negotiate the sale of a home.  We also recommend being present for the plumbing inspection so that you can ask your plumber any questions that may be on your mind, and get some advice on whether or not a home is worth buying at all based on their findings.  Buying a home is a big investment. So, know exactly what you’re working with.


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