Looking at Plumbing When Preparing to Purchase a Home
When it works like it should, plumbing is something that you hardly notice. Considering that pipes and tubes run through walls and between floors throughout much of the home, the fact that they are so seldom thought of is somewhat remarkable. And, while it lasts, this is a blissful state. But then something happens: you notice a dark crack forming along the ceiling, or you’re standing in a closet when a drop of water lands on your bare arm. These are troubling signs indeed and may indicate that the plumbing which you counted on remaining quiet and out of sight is now emerging into the daylight.
For prospective homebuyers, the process of walking through a home gives you a nice early glimpse into what sorts of issues you might find yourself encountering. If the home has been well-maintained, you might not see much of anything. Still, you walk through the rooms, the basement, the hallways and you look for trouble spots. Plumbing, because it remains hidden between walls and floorboards, is not easy to address during this walkthrough period. Still, there are a few things worth looking for that might give you a clue as to whether or not the home has a major plumbing issue waiting to rear its moist head.
Ceiling cracks could just be the result of plaster shifting as the house settles, but they might also be the product of water dripping through pipes and pooling up in the ceiling. The problems with this are many, but include a steady weakening of the ceiling as well as the increased likelihood that mold will begin to take hold. Notice whether or not the crack is surrounded by any darker patches that could indicate the presence of water.
Streaky Walls & Warped Floors
While some homes with poorer ventilation have naturally weeping walls (something else to be on the lookout for), it is also possible that water streaks are the result of water pooling up in ceilings and running down walls. If you’re finding that a specific area has more water streaks than others, consider investigating the ceiling for the presence of pipes.
Another warning sign is warped floors or cabinets. Warping is a sign that the wood has gotten significantly wet and then dried out. Again, looking around for the presence of pipes is a great place to begin.
The Obvious Clue – Leaking Pipes
Not all of the plumbing is hidden beneath other features of your home. Don’t discount the possibility that a leak might be occurring at the base of a faucet, where you can easily see it. Be sure to look at all the spots where pipes are easily accessible to quickly confirm that no serious leaks are immediately apparent.
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