What Happens During a Plumbing Inspection?
Your home plumbing system is continually exposed to corrosive elements and other substances that can cause blockages. It’s prudent to get a routine plumbing inspection to ensure that all is functioning properly.
Inspections allow you to fix small issues as they arise. Keeping your pipes well maintained will protect the appliances that are connected to your water system and prevent major problems from cropping up. Routine maintenance is the best course of action to minimize future problems and avoid the expenses of emergency repairs.
At Bill Howe we recommend that you inspect your plumbing every year, especially if you have an older home or there are large trees in your yard. Old plumbing systems are more susceptible to cracks and deterioration, while large trees can force their roots into underground pipes. Both need to be monitored closely.
When do you need a plumbing inspection?
The most important time to get a top-to-bottom plumbing inspection is when you are purchasing a new home. There are many things that require your attention as a new homeowner. The last thing you need is to stress over old plumbing issues left by the previous owner. For the purposes of buying/selling real estate, a home inspector performs only three checks when it comes to plumbing: they check if water runs from the taps, they check if the drains empty, and they check if the toilets flush. More often than not, home inspectors do not have the technical training to give homeowners a thorough analysis. Important notes such as if the plumbing in the house is up to code or if the sewer gas is leaking back into the home can go overlooked. For current homeowners, an annual inspection is sufficient. If you cannot remember the last time your home’s plumbing was inspected, we recommend you schedule an appointment right away.
Benefits of Routine Plumbing Inspections
There are many benefits to having your plumbing routinely inspected. These include:
- Identifying where pipes are cracked or broken. This minimizes mold and water damage.
- Knowing the age and expected lifespan of your pipes so you can schedule restoration when needed.
- Understanding the corrosion levels of your pipes to know whether to replace them. This helps prevent future leaks and harmful chemicals from leaching into your drinking water.
- You can use a copy of your inspection report to make future repairs easier.
- Maintaining your home’s value. The condition of your plumbing system plays a huge role when appraising a home. Proof that your pipes are well-maintained allows you to negotiate a better price when selling.
- Extending the lifespan of your plumbing system. Faults put strain on the pipes, shortening their lifespan. Routine inspection will prevent these faults from forming, keeping them free from leaks and clogs.
- Lowering the risk of plumbing emergencies. Hidden issues can be spotted before they turn into major emergencies. Avoiding catastrophe will keep you, your home, and your family safer.
- Saving money and water by repairing minor leaks before they become serious problems. And who couldn’t use more money and water?
What is Checked During a Plumbing Inspection?
There are quite a few items checked during an inspection. Here is your own personal checklist:
- Moisture and Leaks
Moisture and leaks are by far the most common plumbing issue an inspector could find during home inspections. Leaks can pop up in plenty of places around the home, causing costly problems, not to mention health risks.
Hidden leaks increase your water bill and can eventually damage your home. Unfortunately, leaks are not usually spotted until the damage is done. Even the smallest leak can lead to serious water damage. A constant leak in your walls can slowly create more and more damage over time, destroying the drywall or flooring, and eventually create mildew. If the leak is above the ground floor the damage and cost can rise exponentially.
Look for clues to spot a potential leak. Discoloration of pipes, rust or general corrosion, especially at the base of behind toilets, and stains on the wall or ceiling can all be signs of leaks.
Keep an eye out for old leaks or water damage. Old watermarks are a sign of previous problems. Even if the leak was fixed, symptoms such as rotting floorboards may still linger. Check the floor around the toilet. Is it soft or warped? Does the toilet move if you attempt to rock it? The bowl should feel stable and steady with no movement.
If you find signs of water damage but can’t tell if it is cause for concern, call Bill Howe. Using specialized moisture-detecting tools our highly-trained technicians can measure exactly how much moisture is in the air, walls, or ceiling of your home. When it comes to water damage it is better to air on the side of caution.
- How’s the Hot Water Heater
Though the average water heater lasts about 8-12 years, it’s a good idea to have it inspected. The lifespan depends on the water quality, how the heater is being used, maintenance, and installation. Faulty water heaters might include bad thermostats, sediment buildups, internal rust, high water pressure, and even the wrong size unit.
Ask a Bill Howe technician to check the water pressure as well as the temperature gauges. You need to make sure that these different parts are working correctly so you can avoid permanent damage to your water heater or burning out your system altogether.
It’s not unusual to find water heaters placed in areas where they’re out of sight but not out of danger. A water heater in a precarious location could cause a lot of damage if they leak. Typical hiding places are utility closets or a garage adjacent to a finished living space. When a water heater is installed where it’s likely to cause property damage due to a leak, you might want to consider a replacement as a preventative measure before it’s too late.
Additionally, make sure the heater will provide hot water for your whole family, so size is a priority. A family of four should have at least a 40-gallon tank.
Important to note is if the water heater appears old, chances are high that it will soon fail. Start shopping for a new unit. Rebates are usually available for energy-efficient models. Ask the pros at Bill Howe.
Do You Know What Type of Piping is in Your Home?
Galvanized pipes: If your home was built before the 1960’s it might have galvanized pipes, which are lead pipes covered with a protective layer of zinc. However, zinc erodes over time. Galvanized pipes that have lead service lines run the risk of releasing lead into your water supply. According to the EPA, consuming excessive amount of lead places adults at higher risk of cardiovascular issues, decreased kidney function, and reproductive problems.
PE and PB pipes: Some pipes are meant to be strictly utilized for specific purposes while others are illegal for home use altogether. For example, polyethylene (PE) pipes are only allowed for home use pertaining to water pressure tanks and main water turn-off valves. Polybutylene (PB) pipes are banned for household use throughout the U.S. as of August 2010. The plumbing industry concluded that PB pipes deteriorate with exposure to chlorine in the drinking water. You read that correctly; someone developed a water supply pipe that can be destroyed by chlorine.
Out of Sight but Not Out of Mind
Not every issue in your home is sitting in plain sight. Sometimes the enemy is hiding just below. Sewer lines can be damaged due to cracking, pipe shifting, and tree roots invading the pipe, to name the most common issues. Repairing a damaged sewer line could become one of the pricier repairs you will ever make to your property. The world is filled with horror stories of people who did not perform an inspection of the sewer line on their property. It’s important to know what your risks are within the home.
New sewer replacements are not cheap; they can cost as much as a new roof! On top of the cost of replacing pipes there is the cost to pour back the concrete slab after trenching through your house, to replace tile, to repair drywall, and to make repairs to your yard and the city owned street/sidewalk. It all adds up to one big headache and an even bigger bill.
Typical home inspections do not include video but a sewer pipe line scope can save you thousands of dollars in major repairs that go unseen during the routine visual inspection. Plumbing camera inspections will cost some money up front but it is well worth the price to give you piece of mind.
After the Inspection
Once the inspection is complete, your licensed Bill Howe technician will discuss the results with you and give their recommendations. You will understand how your pipes are aging and which parts you need to repair. You will receive a calculated estimate of the repair costs, so you can plan the best way forward.
Give your San Diego home the security of a well-maintained plumbing system by scheduling a routine inspection with Bill Howe. We Know Howe!