February means a deep freeze across most of North America, and that typically leads to plumbing-related problems that may get red-flagged by a home inspector. There may be outdated pipe, inadequate water pressure, clogging, or a water heater without enough capacity. Or the issue mentioned in the report could be as minor as a leaking faucet or a toilet that needs a new flushing mechanism installed.
Keep in mind that the inspector’s job is to observe what could potentially be problems, and then convey those professional observations to the client through the written inspection report. When an inspection report discloses an issue it will usually be accompanied by a recommendation to have it further evaluated by a qualified plumber. Only after this kind of more intensive investigation will you know the extent of the problem, if indeed there is one, so don’t worry or jump to conclusions until you’ve had an opportunity to consult a plumber.
Common Plumbing Issues
The particular issues are noted in your report will depend on unique circumstances, but some of the most common plumbing symptoms that show up on inspection reports are related to pipe materials, the integrity of the plumbing, and equipment that works with plumbing to provide services to your household.
• This time of year, a pipe may have burst or sprung a leak that is relatively minor but could lead to bigger problems down the road. Sometimes that is a minor repair and you will want to also wrap insulation around the pipe to prevent freezing and cracking in the future. In other cases the damage could be extensive and require replacement of a section of plumbing plus repair from any water damage that resulted from the leak.
• Oftentimes inspectors find that home, especially ones that are older and have had additions and improvements that expand their size or increase demand for water, have outdated capacity. You may need to update the plumbing to restore water pressure, for instance, or replace a small water heater with a larger one or augment that appliance with an additional water heater.
• Homes that are heated with water – such as boilers that produce steam released through radiators – may be in need of repairs or updates to the boiler system, which has some plumbing components.
• Toilets that don’t stop running may need simple DIY repairs, and the same goes for dripping faucets. If drains are not working as intended, they may simply need a good cleaning. Then again, poor drainage may be a symptom that roots or other obstacles are blocking main plumbing arteries – and that is more substantial issue to solve.
• Oftentimes the materials that plumbing pipes are made out of are out of date, and that could require minor or major replacement of pipes. When iron pipes in older homes begin to corrode, for instance, they can rust and fall apart. Similarly, copper pipes and connectors popular in the 1960s sometimes corrode and need to be replaced.
What to Do Next
The next thing to do is to ask any questions you may have of the inspector, and then contact any plumbers other experts that your inspector may have recommended who should have a closer look. They can do a deeper investigation and diagnosis the source of whatever symptoms the inspector noticed. Study bids from at least three qualified professionals, pick the one that seems the most reasonable for the value delivered, and then schedule the repairs – unless you are in the process of selling your home and the buyer wants to handle any necessary repairs themselves. Have the Realtor negotiate with the other party to decide who will pay for the repairs and when they will be completed.
Sometimes the seller will not do the repair, for instance, but will offer a sales price discount or give cash at closing to the buyer to cover the repair cost. In other situations the buyer may want the repair done before closing, and the buyer and seller will need to reach a fair agreement regarding how soon they will be finished. Traditionally the seller pays for the repairs in that case, but that is also a point that can be negotiated. In the case of an “as-is” sale, for example, the buyer agrees to buy the home in its present condition, without any modifications or repairs.
Following Up Afterward
If you do order repairs done, it is always a good idea to have your inspector return for a follow-up visit after the plumbing contractors have finished their work. Your inspector can then recheck the plumbing system and ensure that the repair work that was properly executed.