house for saleWhen you’re considering buying a new home, the plumbing is one of the most essential features to check out. After all, the quality of the plumbing will significantly effect the quality of life you have in the home, and it’s maintenance costs. So, what should you look for when you’re touring a potential new home?

Check for Function

Having beautiful or efficient fixtures is great, but your first concern should be whether the plumbing works or not. You can run a few tests while in the home to make sure it does:

  • Run all of the taps, ensure the drain moves the water quickly
  • Turn on the hot water, to be sure the water heater is working
  • Flush every toilet and watch to ensure it drains quickly and doesn’t overflow
  • Run the utility sink, if there is one, in the basement or laundry room
  • Start the washing machine and ensure it fills (you can stop it before you leave)
  • Run the shower and feel the pressure
  • Start the dishwasher, if there is one (you can turn it off before you leave)
  • Run the garbage disposal

Talk to the Homeowners

You can also ask the current owners a few questions to help determine the quality of the home’s plumbing:

  • When was the last time they repaired the plumbing?
  • Do they do any plumbing themselves? If so, what? If it’s more than minor repairs, avoid this home as they may have made a mistake with the plumbing.
  • What is their typical water bill like?
  • Are any of the fixtures low-flow?
  • Are any of the appliances energy-efficient?

Don’t take the homeowner’s word for it, and don’t skip the home inspection! An inspector can tell you what kind of pipes the home has, and whether any appliance looks like it’s about to breakdown, or if they see any other problems with the home’s plumbing.

Signs of Water Damagesigns of water damage

While you’re inspecting the plumbing, it’s wise to check the whole home for signs that there has been a plumbing leak or water damage. Look for:

  • Discolored drywall near fixtures
  • Condensation on the ceiling or walls
  • Rust on the appliances, especially the water heater
  • Water beneath the sinks, especially in a cupboard
  • Moisture on the floor in the basement
  • Mould growth anywhere in the home
  • Cracking caulking in the tub or shower
  • Moisture or discoloration near the base of the toilet

Should Plumbing Problems Disqualify a Home?

If you find a plumbing problem, you shouldn’t necessarily abandon the home. Many plumbing problems are simple to fix, and by pointing them out you can even negotiate a lower price on the home.

However, other plumbing problems, like a backed-up sewer line or a corroded bathtub could be large problems that you may not necessarily have the money to fix after you’ve purchased the home. It’s wise to get the advice of your home inspector and your plumber to discover what the repairs would cost were you to buy the home.

Whatever you decide, it’s better to have knowledge of the plumbing problem before you buy the home.