Plumbing Inspection Checklist for Older Homes in Durango

What to Do About Outdated PlumbingOlder Durango homes in the Colorado area can be wonderful. They have a charm and character all their own and an individuality that is different from the newer builds. But those unique design features—hardwood floors, natural wood or stone siding, and many other outstanding features—could be hiding problems the untrained eye doesn't see.

Of all the home inspection items to check off the list, one such problem could be outdated plumbing. The material used for plumbing may not meet the standard we enjoy today, or it may be aging to the point of needing replacement. So, a plumbing inspection is necessary to ensure the property is in shipshape because you want to avoid needing to pay more than you bargained for in repairs. 

We have compiled a handy plumbing inspection checklist to make the process less stressful and to help you identify any potential issues with plumbing in older homes in Durango.

Conduct Water Piping Pressure Test

This test is conducted to check for any leaks in the pipes. It also assesses the water pressure and flow throughout the home. Early plumbing systems typically used cast iron for sewer or galvanized steel for water systems, but they have since been replaced with more modern copper or PVC pipes. 

Galvanized pipes tend to rust and corrode, leading to low water pressure and even burst pipes. Finding low water pressure in the kitchen sink, for example, can indicate a problem with the pipes, either due to corrosion or clogs. 

Inspect the Water Heater

Older homes may have outdated or undersized water heaters that cannot meet the demands of modern living. This can lead to issues such as inconsistent hot water supply or even complete failure. 

The location matters a lot. Find out where the water heater is and see if its placement is up to code. A plumber can determine its capabilities, age, condition, and whether it needs to be replaced by inspecting:

  • The age of the tank and its overall condition
  • The temperature and pressure relief valve
  • Proper venting, gas supply lines, and combustion air supply
  • Signs of leaks or corrosion
  • Sediment buildup in the tank (which can reduce efficiency)
  • Adequate insulation around the tank to prevent heat loss 
  • Any potential safety hazards, such as exposed electrical wiring or gas leaks.

If there are any red flags with the water heater, and there is a need for repair, replacement, or relocation, you can knock money off the asking price or get the seller to fix the problem before you close on the sale.

Check All Faucets and Fixtures

With all the factors you're considering—number of rooms, location, and amenities—it's easy to overlook the plumbing fixtures such as faucets, showers, toilets, and tubs. We have all been guilty of it, but you won't want to be after the sale is made. Older homes often have original plumbing fixtures that may need attention. Inspect these fixtures for signs of wear and potential issues:

  • Faucets: Check for leaks and ensure that hot and cold water runs properly. Older faucets might need washer replacement or may benefit from an upgrade to more water-efficient models.
  • Toilets: Look for signs of running water or leaks around the base. Older toilets may use more water per flush, which can be less efficient.
  • Sinks and bathtubs: Inspect for any visible cracks or leaks around the drains and faucets.

Check How the Sewer System Works

Determine if the property is connected to a municipal sewer system or relies on a septic tank. A plumber can inspect the condition of the sewer system and determine its location, whether there are any existing or potential problems, all pipes, and their connection, the last time it was serviced, and if there are any blockages. They can request access to the house's schematics to better understand the septic tank and pipe layout. 

Also, look for any signs of sewage backups, such as foul odors or slow-draining sinks and toilets. These are indications of a clogged or damaged sewer system. A broken septic tank or a collapsed pipe is an expensive problem you can avoid by conducting a thorough inspection before closing the sale.

Evaluate the Drainage System 

Ensure that the drainage system is in good working order by:

  • Inspecting gutters and downspouts to verify they are clear of debris and directing water away from the foundation.
  • Check for signs of water damage in the basement or crawl spaces, which may indicate poor drainage.
  • Confirming that the sump pump (if present) is functional and well-maintained, as it plays a crucial role in preventing basement flooding.

Inspect all Supply Pipes

Take note of the type of pipes used in the home's plumbing system. As mentioned earlier, older homes may have galvanized steel or cast iron pipes prone to corrosion and clogging. That can lead to low water pressure, leaks, and even burst pipes. Lead pipes were also commonly used, which can be a health hazard if the lead leaches into the water. 

Get the estimate for replacement costs if the home has lead pipes, and consider including it in your negotiation with the seller. For optimal water pressure, pipes should have a diameter of at least three-quarters inch throughout the property. If the pipes are too small, you may experience a decrease in water pressure and flow. 

General Plumbing Questions When Buying an Older Home 

Beyond the specific items listed above, there are some general plumbing questions you should ask when considering purchasing an older home. These questions include:

  1. Where is the main water shut-off valve? 
  2. Has the plumbing system ever been updated or replaced?
  3. Are there any ongoing plumbing issues that still need to be addressed?
  4. What type of water supply pipes are used in the home?
  5. How old is the plumbing system, and what is its expected lifespan? 
  6. Is the home equipped with any water filtration or softening systems? If so, when were they last serviced?
  7. Are there any sump pumps or backwater valves installed in case of heavy rain or flooding?
  8. Have there been any previous issues with frozen pipes during the winter months?
  9. Is the plumbing system up to code, and have you obtained the necessary permits for previous work done? 
  10. Do you recommend any preventative maintenance or repairs that I should address soon? 

Take Care of Your Home’s Plumbing 

A thorough plumbing inspection is crucial when purchasing an older home. It can save you from unexpected and costly repairs down the line and give you leverage for negotiating the sale price. With this plumbing inspection checklist, you can identify potential issues and ensure your new home's plumbing system is in good working order before purchasing.

Feel free to ask for a professional plumber's assistance during the inspection. They have the expertise and tools needed to identify any potential issues with the plumbing system and provide you with an accurate estimate for any repairs or replacements that may be needed.

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