It’s Moving Season! Did you know that around 43 million people move every year? Almost half of them make that move between May and September! The weather is better. Kids are out of school so there is less upheaval. And it’s also easier to inspect homes during the spring and summer months when there is no snow on roofs, and water has been restored to outside faucets and sprinkler systems.
Are You Planning a Move?
Are you one of the many who are planning to move and purchase a new home this summer? If so, you might be wondering what you should be looking for in terms of problems, repairs, or even deal-breaker issues. Have no fear, the PROs are here! We have some advice on what to look for starting with the very first walk-through.
But My New Home is Brand New!
You might be surprised to learn that newly built homes can have just as many issues as those that have been around for years. We’ve seen everything from improperly installed p-traps on sinks, to brand new sewer lines that have already separated! New doesn’t always mean better, especially in areas that have many new homes going up in short amounts of time. Too often, builders cut corners in order to make deadlines.
It’s always exciting to look at a new home. It’s easy to get wrapped up in visions of granite countertops and walk-in closets. Plumbing problems may be the last thing on your mind when you are preparing to move. That’s why we are including a quick checklist that is easy to print and take with you whenever you head out to look at a new home.
Turn Everything On
As you are touring the house and checking out all the rooms, start turning things on. And by that, we mean anything to do with the plumbing. Turn on faucets, run showers, and tubs, flush toilets, run exhaust fans, run the garbage disposer. You can even ask your realtor if you can run an empty test load in the dishwasher and washing machine. If it has water running to it, or through it, you want to test it. Now let’s talk about just what you are looking for.
Sinks, Faucets, and Garbage Disposers
You want to check every faucet to see if water pools around the base of the faucet while it is on. You should also check under the sink to make sure there are no leaks coming from the drain line. Listen to the drain. Does it gurgle? Is it draining slowly? When you turn the water off, does the water still trickle or drip? You also want to turn on the garbage disposer and check the unit for signs of leaking or loud noises even if there is nothing in it. These are signs that the fixture or its drain line needs a little TLC.
Shower and Tub
You’re going to be looking for many of the same things with the shower and tub that you did when you were turning on faucets. Checking for leaks, making sure the drain clears quickly and easily, and that the faucets turn off all the way. But there are a few other things to check for as well. If the shower is tiled, check the grout for cracks or pitting. This can spell trouble down the road. Many shower leak calls we receive actually turn out to be grout issues! If there is a tub, make sure to stopper it and fill it all the way up. There are two things you’re looking for here. One, you want to make sure the water doesn’t drain out of the tub while the drain is stopped. Two, you want to make sure that if water enters the overflow it isn’t going to leak.
When you first enter the bathroom, pause and listen. Do you hear the toilet running even if it hasn’t been flushed recently? Look for signs of leaking around the base. Flush the toilet (with a bit of toilet paper) and make sure it clears quickly and easily. Have a seat and see if the toilet wiggles. Check the shut-off valve to make sure it isn’t corroded. All these issues spell toilet trouble!
Dishwashers, Washing Machines, and Exhaust Fans
Exhaust fans are a simple thing to check. Turn it on! If it isn’t running at all, or if it makes a rattling noise, it should be checked out. With the dishwasher and washing machine, we suggest running a test wash mostly so you can check the drain lines. You want to make sure that these appliances drain easily and don’t leak at their connections.
Bigger Issues You Might Run Into
All of the issues we’ve talked about so far are fairly simple fixes and shouldn’t run into much money to repair. However, there are some bigger items that you also want to look at to make sure you know exactly what you are getting.
Hot and Cold
Let’s talk about heat. Specifically, hot water and the climate of your new home. The water heater, furnace, and air conditioner are three of the most expensive and important appliances in any home. While you may not be able to turn on the heat or the air conditioner, depending on the time of year, it is important to have a professional do an inspection of those units before you close on a home and move in. These inspections are usually inexpensive and can save you a lot of time and money in the long-run if problems are found. However, you can usually take a look at a water heater yourself to get an idea of how well it is working.
Run hot water in a few places in the home to see how quickly hot water gets to each fixture. You may not be able to keep running it to see how long the hot water lasts, but you can do a quick visual inspection. Look for signs of corrosion both on the top and at the bottom of the unit. If it is in a pan, is there any water in it? These are clues that it may have issues.
Ask the following questions about the water heater, furnace and air conditioner in the home: How old is the unit? When was the last time it was serviced? Also, get the name and number of any company that has done service on the units to give you a better picture of how well it has been maintained and any history of repairs.
Let’s Talk Drains
There is one system that ties a whole house together. It’s something you forget all about until something goes wrong. And when something goes wrong, it usually goes very wrong. The drain system in a home is THE most important system. It carries waste away, keeping your home clean and healthy. The biggest problem, however, is that issues can be difficult to detect until they have become costly to repair. While you can check for gurgling pipes and slow running drains, it can be difficult to detect a break in the main sewer line or roots that are coming through the pipe and causing clogs. That is why we suggest having a professional run a camera through the main drain of any home you are planning to purchase. Just like with an HVAC or water heater inspection, this relatively inexpensive service can save you from spending thousands to replace a sewer line a month or two after you’ve moved in.
Know Before You Buy…or Sell!
As you can see, it is very important to check out the plumbing system in any home you plan to purchase from the very first time you step inside. What may seem like a small issue on the first walk-through can quickly become a headache when they keep adding up after you move. But what if you are not confident in finding these issues yourself or you aren’t sure what to look for? Many plumbing service companies offer whole home plumbing inspections that can detect all the issues we’ve covered. This service can also be valuable if you are planning to sell your home! Calling a professional to check over your home and systems can alert you to issues before you start showing it to potential buyers.