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Plumbing in Pre-Owned Homes: What Buyers Need to Know
While shopping for a home, most buyers can easily point out peeling paint, outdated appliances or a dirty carpet. What most buyers won’t notice are plumbing issues. Though a standard home inspection will cover the basics, like water damage and water heater safety, other common issues often go unreported. Buying a home with a history, in particular, can present sewer-related challenges for potential new owners.
If you’re in the market for a pre-owned home, keep in mind these four factors when evaluating the home’s plumbing.
1. If it happened once, it will happen again.
Homes with past plumbing issues have a high probability of failure in the future. “The roots from the same problem tree will continue to grow back,” says Larry Rothman, director of Plumbing Services for Roto-Rooter, citing a common example. Re-occurring problems should be resolved before completing the sale of the home.
2. Sump pump problems can go unnoticed.
Despite being a standard requirement for new construction, not all pre-owned basement homes have sump pumps to prevent flooding. If it hasn’t rained recently, any sump pump issues may remain hidden. A thorough inspection of the sump system, water heater and sewer line can save a prospective buyer thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement.
3. Sewer line inspections are not generally included in standard home inspections.
Homebuyers regularly waive this extra inspection in the purchasing process because it requires an additional cost of anywhere from $250 to $550. Additionally, many buyers do not know that responsibility for the condition of the lateral sewer line leading from the street to the home lies with the homeowner, not a municipality. Whatever the reason for skipping a sewer line inspection, buyers should reevaluate foregoing this important step when making a deal.
4. Sellers do not have to disclose information about plumbing problems.
Ask questions! Learn when the home was built; if it is 25 years or older, it is more likely to have non-plastic pipes that may be deteriorated. Take note of mature trees, visible root growth and cracked concrete and ask if they are related to any persistent pipe problems.