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Plumbing and Heating System Checks for the Home Buyer

Is Buying a Home on Your Summer Agenda?

The weather is warm, houses are selling and people are moving. Even with a good home inspector on board be prepared and know what to watch out for as you shop! Minimize the surprise with some simple steps and reminders for your plumbing and heating system.

Waste: Septic or Sewer?

If sewer - try to get a history of water and sewer use to be able to plan for those expenses (remember, if you are not on a budget now, you will be once you buy that house)... 

If septic - where is the tank, how big is it, how old is it - and where is the drain field?

Water and Heat!

Be sure to ask the seller about the plumbing and heating history of the home and if any of the work is still under warranty.  Try to get all paperwork for any recently installed water heaters, furnaces or boilers. That goes for appliances as well.

  • Water heater—know the capacity, manufacturer, location, and age. Typical life expectancy for a water heater in New England? 8-10 years. There should be a plate on the outside of the water heater that has its serial number, which includes its year of manufacture.
  • Inspect above and below the tank for evidence of previous leaks or drips.
  • Look for signs of corrosion, coupled with age, to determine if you should request it be replaced before signing time. 
  • A 40 gallon tank will manage the water needs for an average family of four.  

Tip: If you are buying a larger home consider installing a tankless or insta-hot water heater in farther area baths/laundry closets or kitchens. These save water and reduce the time it takes to get hot water.  Check out our high efficiency water heaters and give us a call!

  • Heating system – know the manufacturer, location, age, serial number, warranty information and ask about servicing. 
  • Has the system been cleaned, tuned and checked in the last two years?  If not, you will want to schedule a maintenance check as soon as you can after purchase.
Check for leaks!
  • Kitchen and bathroom faucets, toilets and showers should be in good working condition and free of noticeable leaks.
  • Look for hard water stains – hard water causes many plumbing problems. Know your water. We can help.
  • Toilets – go around and flush them! Make sure they empty and fill correctly. See how long it takes for the tank to fill and listen for sounds of leaking once it is filled! 
  • Inspect the base of each toilet for evidence of current or prior leaks.
  • Make sure toilets are solidly placed and not loose or “rocking”.
Check for possible frozen pipe issues:
  • Does the home have crawl spaces? Do plumbing lines run on outside walls? 
  • Are pipes and vents wrapped?  This will help protect your pipes during the harsh winter months.  If not, give us a call!
  • If the home uses well water the well should be protected from freezing weather as well.
If the home has a sump pump:
  • Look to see if a backup system has been installed. When the lights go out you want your sump pump on!  
  • Plan to put in a backup system if you don’t have one. Give us a call!
Check for lead pipes:

Homes that were built prior to 1986 often have lead or galvanized plumbing. Lead is an environmental hazard, so you may want to avoid a home that contains lead pipes, or plan to completely replace all compromised pipes!

A post-purchase tip:  Be sure you know where your water shut off valves are and which breaker shuts off what - ask us out to inspect your plumbing and label your shutoffs….

Happy Home Hunting!

Jun 2014